A packed suitcase is only as good as its packer. A lightweight suitcase is an essential travel item to have in your arsenal, but good luggage alone isn’t enough – you have to know how to pack properly.
But what’s the best way to pack your travel bag? Packing for maximum efficiency means easier – and cheaper – travel.
Know Your Fabrics
Whether you should fold or roll depends on what you’re bringing, and what it’s made of.
There’s always been discussion between which method keeps clothes in the best conditions, and the truth is, it depends what items you’re bringing.
Some fabrics work better when you roll them because they are less likely to wrinkle. Synthetic textiles, such as nylon, work best when rolled. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, work best when folded flat.
As an easy, general guide, rolling works best on casual clothes (usually more casual fabrics), and folding works best on more formal outfits.
Evaluate Each Item
After addressing the fabric of your clothes, it’s best to determine your method of packing by assessing how they normally hang or store.
We know that dress pants and blazers typically have some sort of pleat or crease. To keep these from warping, items such as these would work best when folded.
Gym shorts that are usually thrown in the bottom of your drawer can be neatly rolled while stored in your luggage. Bulky items, like thick sweatshirts, usually work best when rolled.
Now the moment of truth: which method allows you to pack more clothes? While the answer may seem like rolling, a real-life experiment by Conde Nast suggests folding will fit more clothes into your luggage.
Again, while it depends what type of clothing items you’re bringing, folding clothes flat may allow for more compression overall.
Choose Your Luggage Wisely
Yet another decision to make when packing is what type of luggage allows you to pack the most efficiently.
If you know you will have to roll most of your clothes based on the contents, packing cubes work great. Roll each item separately and slide them into a cube of its own. Each day of your travel can have its own packing cube, keeping your clothes clean and organized.
For times when folding is the best option, a packable duffle bag stores folded clothes the best. Laying the clothes flat on the bottom of a sturdy, durable bag will allow you to make the most of your space, even leaving room for shoes, toiletry bags, and other items.
Utilize Extra Space
Since you obviously can’t fold or roll shoes, make the most of the extra space they take up and create, and utilize it for packing items you can’t fit in your cubes or bag.
Roll ties and socks together to stuff into shoes. Hats and belts can be tucked around the sides of shoes to keep them separate from clothing items while using wasted space.
In short, it’s all about evaluating what your true needs are. When in doubt, follow this guide:
Rolling works best on: gym clothes, synthetic T-shirts and shorts, tank tops, underwear, skirts, pajamas, sweatpants and sweatshirts.
Use packing cubes when rolling, storing the cubes in a large bag afterwards.
Folding works best on: jeans, dress pants, blouses, dresses, and button down shirts.
Use a large, sturdy duffle or suitcase when folding, keeping clothes flat and wrinkle-free.
Next time you’re wondering where to start, remember to look at what you’ve got. Assessing your items can help you decide how to pack, and what to use. By picking the right method and choosing the perfect luggage, you’ll travel at no extra charge and with ease.