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Tips for Packing a Suitcase

Updated on September 17, 2014
Luggage | Source

Packing a Suitcase

Packing tips for anyone that is traveling by car, bus, train, plane or sailing away on a ship or boat.

Make a list of essential items you cannot live without.

The day before you are to leave make sure everything you want to take on the trip with you is laundered and ready to go. Lay everything out on your bed and check off all items on your list as you pack.

Packing Breakable Bottles in Your Suitcase

  • When possible purchase small plastic bottles and transfer the contents into them.
  • Put breakable bottles into plastic zip lock bags.
  • If worried about bottles leaking seal them with candle wax.
  • Wrap the bottles in aluminum foil tightly and press to the contours of the jar or glass container.

Space Saving Tips for Suitcases

Utilize all possible space. Items that are small such as gloves, socks, shampoo bottles or hand cream will easily go into a shoe. If you are worried about stinky shoes pack the items in a plastic bag first.

If there are gaps in the suitcase stuff the gaps with socks or rolled up items to keep contents of the suitcase intact preventing items from rolling around or shifting.

Pack accordingly

  • How long will you be away for? If it is only a three day weekend it is unnecessary to bring enough clothing for two weeks.
  • What is the weather going to be like?
  • If you're going to a place with a pool don't forget to bring a bathing suit.
  • Will you be attending a formal social event or are only casual clothes needed?
  • Bring footwear that is only necessary as shoes or boots are heavy and take up space in that suitcase.
  • Ladies only bring makeup essentials, you don't really need the entire makeup collection do you?
  • If going to a hotel or motel check ahead and see if they provide a blow dryer.
  • How big is your suitcase or luggage set?
  • If travelling by plane be sure to check with the airline to see how many pounds of baggage and what size is allowed.
  • If planning to shop while you're away make sure your suitcase will have space to bring the items home in.


Packing Prescription Medications

When travelling to another country it is always best to keep all prescription medications together and in original bottles. It is better to be safe and be able to prove that these are prescribed drugs rather than being held at the border or at customs for drug smuggling.

How to fold and pack with only a carry on bag

Packing your Suitcase

Shoes are usually the heaviest item and should be placed on the bottom or in the corners of the suitcase.

If there is a zippered lid in your bag this makes a great place to pack underwear, socks, lingerie and PJ's.

Rolling shirts will cut down on wrinkles when arriving at your destination.

If you are taking along a suit or dress these items should be packed on top of everything else and folded so as not to crease as much as possible.

Here is something to consider

Items That Are Not Permitted in Carry On Bags

When flying you are not allowed to have the following items in your carry on bag, in your purse or on your person. Remember to put these items in your suitcase or luggage that is being checked.

  • Knives or any type of cutting instruments
  • Firearms/firearm parts/ammunition
  • Paintball guns
  • Power tools
  • Sports items such as hockey sticks, skis, ski poles, baseball bats
  • Liquids, gels and aerosols
  • Snow-globes
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, cosmetic scissors
  • Breakable glass

There are exceptions to rules and if you want to pack something in your carry on bag that is questionable it is always best to check with the airline.

When It Comes to Packing

What kind of a packer are you?

See results


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    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      cosmomed, So true, you should weigh your baggage before getting to to the airport to find out it is going to cost you a fortune.

    • cosmomed profile image

      cosmomed 4 years ago from Sarawak. Malaysia

      Rolling shirts will reduce wrinkles on them. I never thought of putting small items into a shoe to save space! Thanks for the tip! A good weighing machine is essential to prevent charges on extra baggage.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Melovy, I've never seen the point in bringing stuff with you that you're never going to need on a trip or use. My husband used to want to bring practically his entire wardrobe on a trip with him.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Susan, you can come and pack my family's suitcases any time! I use the fill-shoes-with-socks technique and the fill spaces technique, whereas my husband's method is to throw what he wants into the suitcase, fasten the tension straps and that's it. And he always wants to take a suitcase that is about a quarter of the size we need, so there's no room for my stuff or the kids'. I then take everything out again, and repack using the space saving method you've described.

      Then my older daughter comes along with 20 CDs, 100 DVDs, and 95 books that she just HAS to take with her and that won't fit into her carry-on bag. (Ok, I'm exaggerating a little, but, wow, we could do with you to do the packing!)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      barbergirl, Those snowglobes are a killer :) You may end up throwing it at someone on the plane and injuring them. Glad you liked the hub and thanks.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I almost died laughing when I saw Snowglobes on the list of things you can't put into your carry on bag. This reminds me a lot of my hub about packing lists. I think I made it because I was taking a trip and I realzied how much I relied on those packing lists. Great hub... now if only it made me not pack as much! :)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for reading and for your comments bethany.

    • bethanyclark profile image

      bethanyclark 5 years ago from USA

      Yeah it's really important to get ready everything you want to bring for the travel.. Although it would really takes time.. But anyway traveling is very fun and exciting.. so I just can't leave without packing my belongings with me..:)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      penlady, Thanks so much.

      Doc, Hope that you have a nice trip, and glad you found this useful.

      drbj, I've had stuff confiscated too, and that's the way I learned :)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      dahoglund, Thanks so much, I appreciate the shares.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Kelley, That's the way my husband packs too.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      I am convinced, Susan, that packing is a talent that some folks are born with - like you. And the rest of us just have to learn by trial and error and confiscation by the TSA.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Scribenet, The first time I went on a trip with my husband for a weekend I think he took ten sweaters with him and only wore two of them. I do his packing now :)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Ruchira, I've always been an organized packer. Not sure why but I find it a fun challenge to see how little I can take to get by.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Very useful tips and exactly what I need. I always pack way too much stuff as I worry about not having enough stuff. We are going away next week and I'll be certain to put these tips into action! Voted up/across!

    • penlady profile image

      penlady 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      These are some good packing tips. I hope to do more traveling in the future. My sister is traveling this November, so I’ll pass this hub on to her for packing advice.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sue, Is it fall yet :) I don't mind the heat it's the humidity I hate. Soon we'll be complaining about the cold. All part of being a Canadian I say. Have a great day!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Since retiring I don't travel so much and times changed at about the same time as my retirement.These are useful tips to keep in mind. sharing this on tweeter

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Austin, I was thinking of my mother in law when I was writing about prescription drugs. She never knows how long she's going to be staying when she visits so she always brings all her meds with her in a huge zip lock bag as well as the pill case. I think the meds take up half her carry on bag :)

      I agree pack light!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      RH, One time coming back from Florida, at the last minute I'd put a bottle of shoe stuff that I'd gotten when I bought a pair of Rockport's in my carry on as well as some sunscreen. When I went through customs they got to keep both bottles. They must rake in a lot of stuff there.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Ha ha Susan. I take way to much stuff with me and throw it all in the suitcase. The way I look at it is I'm on vacation so I'm not cleaning, obsessing, etc and in fact I can be very messy. Awesome hub! Kelley

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I always pack too much, so I lay everything on the bed and start taking away stuff keeping in mind if it is necessary. Usually I manage to be able to close the suitcase by the time I leave.

      When I get to my destination I end up wearing a fraction of what I packed! What I like the most are wrinkle-proof and easy wash and dry clothes. Great hints...however old habits are hard to overcome!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      well written esp taking into account the limitations of ounces that a traveller can carry.

      i usually gather all the stuff and allow my better half to put it in the suitcase. not that patient to keep stuff well organized in the "small"

      voted up as useful and informative!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Susan,

      Very useful tips. I pack very lightly. Rolling clothes is a great way to save space and prevent wrinkles.

      Hope you are surviving this heat

      Take care :)

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      When taking expensive medications, it is wiser to dole them out in a pill case. You will only need to take enough for the duration of your trip, not the whole container. To prove that you have prescriptions for these, either make a copy of the original prescription before having it filled, or have your pharmacist print out a list of your meds before you go and pack it with your pill case. Keep all medications with you personally, not inside anything that can be lost, damaged or misplaced. Some of us would have to take 10 or more full bottles of pills and vitamins!

      The number one rule of packing - Always take LESS clothes and MORE money!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I LOVE to travel - hate to pack. I get all stressed out. I should totally have a better plan like this. It would make it more seamless and I won't have to sit and think, "I know I forgot what IS it?" the night before. Ugh!

      And remember NO SNOW GLOBES! Do not put that in your suitcase! lol Also - I know a girl who had to go through a whole buch of trouble over a makeup kit...the mineral stuff...she had to fight for it! LOL They wanted to take it at the airport because - maybe she looked threatening? IDK? haha!