How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

How To Pack A Suitcase To Maximize Space-14 Personal Tips!

Looking for how to pack a suitcase to maximize space? Let me make it easy for you! 

I’m Sarah and I love nothing more than adventuring, helping, and finding ways to make life easier.

We all know packing can be the least exciting part of setting off on an adventure (besides unpacking, of course)! There’s the challenge of fitting everything, the stress of forgetting things, trying to find what you need, and the list goes on.

So let’s dive in. Here are my top tips for packing your suitcase to maximize space and minimize wrinkles – for your clothes and for you! 🙂 

How To Pack A Suitcase To Maximize Space

1. Start With A List

2. Lay Out All Your Items And Edit Ruthlessly

3. Genius Space Saving Tools

4. How To Pack Clothes In A Suitcase To Save Space

5. Choose The Right Luggage

6. Utilize And Maximize Space – Like Tetris

7. Pack Multi-Purpose Travel Sized Items

8. Choose Practical Multi-Benefit Clothing

9. Reduce Shoes In Your Suitcase

10. Wear Bulky Items On The Plane

11. Utilize Carry On Luggage To Maximize Space In Your Suitcase

12. Use A Separate Toiletry Bag

13. Do The Clothing Countdown

14. Organize Your Jewellery And Accessories

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1. Start With A List 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space?

If you’re wondering how to maximize suitcase space, the answer is to maximize your planning! Write a list of everything you need.

 This reduces overwhelm, overpacking, and ensures you don’t forget anything. Write your own, or use a pre-made travel checklist.

2. Lay Out All Your Items And Edit Ruthlessly

Before packing, lay out all of your items and then reduce as many as possible. 

Aim to remove at least one third of what you have. Be ruthless! This can be tough, but if you really want to know how to maximize space in a suitcase – this is a game of elimination.

To make it easier, pack only what you need, only what you love (another KonMari concept), and only what is comfortable. You’ll always reach for the comfy stuff!

3. Genius Space Saving Tools 

When I was experimenting with how to maximise suitcase space, I learned that one thing I will never do without is packing cubes! 

Packing cubes are your best friend for keeping things organized and compact. 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

There are many types available. I like the Shacke Pak 5 set packing cubes as they have a mesh top so you can see what’s inside, and they are sturdy yet compact, allowing a lot of items to be packed into a small space. 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Another option is the set of Gox Ultra Light 5 piece packing cubes. 

These are lightweight and durable, and also have a mesh section so you can see what’s inside.

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

And finally, when looking at how to maximize space in suitcases, for bulky items like coats and blankets, you may find these vacuum space saver bags helpful. They come in 5 different sizes and can flatten even the puffiest of clothes.

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4. How To Pack Clothes In A Suitcase To Save Space

So, what is the best way to pack a suitcase to save room?

 Well, the main consensus among seasoned travellers tends to be to use a mix of both folding AND rolling your clothes. Here is what I’ve found to be the most effective way: 

Roll clothing into mini burritos 

This can be done using the Army Roll (A.K.A. the Ranger Roll). The Army Roll method takes a bit longer than folding, but the effort is worth it as it keeps clothes super compact, secure and organized. Here’s how to use the Army Roll method: 

Step 1:

Lay clothing on a flat surface and smooth away wrinkles with your hands. 

Step 2:

Fold the bottom of the clothing up. This will make a pouch to keep your clothing roll secure. 

Step 3:

Fold the left side over to the middle, and fold the sleeves back so they don’t cross over the middle line.

Step 4:

Fold the right side over the left.

Step 5:

Roll from the non-folded end all the way to the folded section. Be sure to roll as tightly and as compact as possible. 

Step 6:

Use the folded flap at the end to tuck over the clothing roll. As you can see, this not only makes the clothing roll small, but also keeps it securely in place during travel or when you’re moving things around in your suitcase. The end product:

Pack larger, bulky items in the middle 

Packing larger, bulky items like coats in the middle of the suitcase is another way of how to maximize luggage space while creating an even weight distribution, making it easier to move and transport.

KonMari folding method by Marie Kondo

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space? Marie Kondo’s method for folding is similar to the Army Roll method. 

The little burritos (now I’m getting hungry) are slightly less secure than the Army Roll, however, this way is quicker, less tedious and holds the clothes slightly looser which prevents wrinkles. 

Here is the KonMari folding method in action:

Step 1:

Lay the clothing item flat and spread it out smooth with your hands.

Step 2:

Fold the left side into the middle, folding the sleeves back (in the same way as the Army Roll).

Step 3:

Fold the right side into the middle, mirroring the way you folded the left to make a rectangle.

Step 4:

Fold the clothing in half from the bottom to the top

Step 5:

Divide and fold into thirds. The folded item should stand up on its own like so:

Fold by outfit or fold by item

If you’re wanting to fold and are really looking at how to maximize suitcase space while keeping organized, you can either fold clothes by item:

  •  T-shirts together, dresses together, pants together

 OR by outfit:

  •  Day 1 entire outfit, day 2 outfit, and so on.

5. Choose The Right Luggage

This is an important piece of the puzzle when looking at how to maximize packing a suitcase. Keep in mind baggage weight limits and remember that the bigger the suitcase, the more you will put into it!

There are a few factors to consider, the main being whether to go with a hard suitcase or a soft suitcase. Here are the pros and cons of both options so you can choose what will best suit your needs:

Hard Suitcase Pros:

-No fabric lining means more packing space

-Lightweight and strong, offering great protection for your belongings

-They prevent your bag from being sliced or anything being placed in the pockets

Hard Suitcase Cons:

-They can’t be half opened so they take up a lot of space in hotel rooms

-They’re bulky and more difficult to fit into cars 

-They don’t have internal compartments for organization (cue the packing cubes)

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

For a hard suitcase option, take a look at the Fochier 3 piece expandable luggage set

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Another great option is the Long Vacation luggage 3 piece set which is more lightweight. 

Soft Suitcase Pros:

-They often have expanders in them for maximum space

-They usually have built-in compartments for organization

-They fit better in cars

Soft Suitcase Cons:

-They’re more prone to wear and tear

-They offer less protection for your belongings

-They can be heavier resulting in less weight capacity for belongings and are heavier to wheel around

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

The soft Lily Bloom Luggage Expandable bags have vibrant patterns and are easy to spot when collecting your checked bags. Another great soft suitcase option is the Travelpro Maxlite Expandable luggage. 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

If you’re into travelling sustainably, there are also these 11 Eco Friendly Travel Bags.

6. Utilize And Maximize Space – Like Tetris

Working out how to maximize space in luggage is like playing a game of Tetris. To fill every space, you can pack your socks inside your shoes, and pack other hats, underwear or scarves inside your sun hats. 

For a seamless fit and maximum space, pack your flat items like notebooks in the pockets of your suitcase. 

This reduces bulk, rather than packing things like your shoes or toiletry bag in them.

7. Pack Multi-Purpose Travel Sized Items

Items that are mini-sized or multi-purpose make traveling and packing easier. When considering how to pack a suitcase to maximize space, try to swap out any items you can for their mini counterparts, or leave them out. Here are some ideas:

Travel size toiletry bottles 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Fill them with products from home so you can still use your regular favourites without sacrificing space.

Travel-size cordless hair straightener 

This invention is genius! There’s the new GHD Unplugged Styler. GHD has been a top-rated hair straighter brand forever. For a budget-friendly option, there is the GFI Turbo Flat Iron that also looks amazing.

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Mini hairbrush 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

I bought one of these for traveling and it has since become a staple, even at home!

GAN Charger

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Save space with a GAN Charger that can charge multiple devices at once, so you don’t need to pack multiple chargers for your phone, camera and laptop.

Travel Adapter

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

This Travel Adapter is an all-in-one option and has retractable prongs to make for easy packing.

Remember that a lot of hotels and accommodations will have hairdryers there, same with shampoo, conditioner and soaps. You can also buy soaps and things once you arrive at where you are staying if need be. 

8. Choose Practical Multi-Benefit Clothing

Consider the material of the clothes that you take when working out how to maximize packing luggage. 

It’s helpful to keep your items as lightweight as possible. Material like Merino is compact, comfy, moisture-wicking and antibacterial.

 Some scarves can also be used as a sarong or a lightweight blanket.

Remember to pack for the weather, you can check in advance using weather apps or local tourism pages. Packing in neutral colours can also help as you are likely to get more outfits out of each piece of clothing, reducing the number of clothes you need to bring.

9. Reduce Shoes In Your Suitcase

When considering how to maximize luggage space clothes, narrow down how many shoes you need and where possible, select shoes that can be multi-use. What shoes are the most comfy? What activities do you plan on? Are Hiking Boots Necessary? 

10. Wear Bulky Items On The Plane

A trick for how to save space when packing a suitcase is to wear your big bulky items like jackets, jumpers, or bulky shoes on the plane. Pro tip: there is some helpful info here if you plan on wearing steel-toe boots on the plane.

11. Utilize Carry On Luggage To Maximize Space In Your Suitcase

You may have two pairs of bulky shoes, like runners and boots. You could wear your boots and pack your runners in your carry-on luggage. This is also a great option for coats, additional handbags and books. 

There are a range of different carry on luggage options to choose from:

12. Use A Separate Toiletry Bag 

Another tip is to keep a separate toiletry bag already packed with all your mini faves that you only use for travel. This saves time and makes it easy so you don’t forget anything. Maximize space and keep organised with a hanging organizer or a lay and go option.

13. Do The Clothing Countdown

Wondering how to pack a suitcase to maximize space for 2 weeks? Using the clothing countdown (otherwise known as the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule), can be a helpful option for a 1 to 2 week long trip. Here’s how it works. You pack:

  • 5 x Sets of socks and underwear
  • 4 x Tops
  • 3 x Bottoms
  • 2 x Pairs of shoes
  • 1 x Hat

Use this as a base and adjust as needed. Also keep in mind whether you’ll be washing your clothes while you’re away, if so, you won’t need to take as much.

14. Organize Your Jewellery And Accessories 

Keeping your jewellery safe and organized while traveling is important. I like using a purse-style organizer for my jewellery, it is flat and compact and you can keep it safely with you in your handbag or carry-on. You can also thread necklaces through straws to prevent them from getting tangled. 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Bonus packing suitcase hacks:

One bonus I’ve found to be helpful is to put a GPS tracker chip like this one in your luggage for peace of mind in case it gets lost. 

How to pack a suitcase to maximize space

Another trick I found helpful was to layer dry cleaner bags or baking paper sheets between folded layers of clothes to keep clothes fresh and reduce wrinkles.

And make sure your pets don’t accidentally sneak along for the ride 🙂

Photo by Valérie Ungerer on Unsplash

FAQ’s For How To Pack A Suitcase For Maximum Space:

Is It Better To Fold Or Roll Clothes In A Suitcase?

Frequent fliers tend to agree that rolling does the best job as it helps to stop your clothes from wrinkling while also maximizing space. Clothing can get slightly damp from compression and changes in moisture, rolling can help minimize this too.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

What Packing Method Saves The Most Space?

To save space, Fold AND Roll Clothes. A combination of both is great: folding is better for bulkier items like coats as it keeps them nice and flat. Rolling makes the remaining clothes more compact to fit into the corners and small spaces of the suitcase. 

How Do You Arrange Things In A Suitcase?

1.Use Your List To Organize Your Luggage

2.Fill Out Luggage Tags With Contact Information

3.Pack Only The Shoes You Need

4.Roll Clothes To Keep Luggage Organized

5.Pack Carry-On Luggage With A Set of Clothes 

6.Place The Most Important Items On Top Of Your Luggage

7.Remember To Pack Adapters

What Should I Pack In My Suitcase First?

Your softer, rolled items should be packed first and placed at the bottom of your suitcase. You then fold your longer items like dresses, pants and skirts and layer them on top of your rolled items. 

How To Pack Luggage For International Travel?

Make sure you pack a spare set of clothes in your carry-on bag in case your luggage goes missing. Make sure your luggage has locks and labels with your contact details. Using bright coloured bags or ribbon is helpful when collecting your bags.

How Do You Roll A Shirt For Packing In A Suitcase?

1.Using a firm surface like a table or ironing board, lay the shirt button-side down

2.Fold the shirt in half so the left and right sides are laying on top of each other

3.Fold the sleeves onto the body of the shirt

4.From the bottom to the top, roll the shirt

How To Pack A Duffel Bag To Maximize Space?

1.Make a list and only pack what you need

2. Pack heavier items first so that the larger items are at the bottom

3.Duffel bags tend to compress everything, try to pack to avoid wrinkles

4.Use the space in your shoes to store lightweight clothing

5.Pack easy access items on top

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Ready To Pack A Suitcase And Explore The World?

Travelling should be fun and as stress-free as possible! I hope that this guide on how to pack a suitcase to maximize space helps to reduce the dreaded packing overwhelm and sets you off on the right foot for your travels!

I hope you have THE BEST time on your next adventure. If you have any other handy packing tips, please share them in the comments below, I would love to hear them!

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