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Good Housekeeping
Kristine Ching, Contributor
March 16, 2010

How to Pack Your Suitcase Efficiently

Going on a trip? Avoid the overweight baggage charge by following these 8 tips on saving luggage space while packing. By Kristine Ching
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efficient_packing_main.jpgNothing is more annoying than a bag that refuses to cooperate, which is a euphemism for "you've crammed in way too many things, the zipper just won't budge." Well, guess what. You don't need to be Superwoman to pack efficiently. Just follow these tips and traveling will surely be a breeze.


Travel veterans cannot stress the importance of making a list enough. So be like Santa—make that list and check it twice.

Consider your destination—are you going to the Canadian wilderness or the beach? Pack clothes that are suitable for the destination's weather, which you can check by visiting the Accuweather site. This way, you don't have to bring that bulky sweater to a city where the average temperature is 33C.

To help you pack for a specific trip, check out the Universal Packing List website. Whether you're going on a shopping trip or on a glacier trek, the site can generate the list of necessary things you would need for that trip.

Avoid last-minute packing at all costs. Think about the last time you did: you most likely either over-packed or left essential things. So pack your bags at least three days before your trip.


Leave that big bottle of shampoo, and instead take a small refillable bottle. Scared you'll run out of your favorite sun block or other necessities in the middle of your trip? Try this: fill travel-sized containers with your usual products and then mark the bottles after every use that way you can gauge how long it takes to go through the bottle.

If you're traveling with friends or family, ask them if they wouldn't mind sharing a bottle of shampoo, shower gel, or a tube of toothpaste, but not the toothbrush or a bar of soap—you've got to draw the line somewhere. Toiletries can take a considerable amount of space.


Fold or roll? When it comes to packing your clothes, OneBag's Doug Dyment says neither works! Dyment has devised a method called "bundle wrapping," and if we listen to the thousands of travelers who now swear by this technique, it's the best way to save space and keep your clothes from wrinkling or creasing. Bundle wrapping simply means that you take the clothes you need and wrap it around a central object, such as a pouch. Having trouble imagining this method? Check out the diagram on OneBag.com.

If you're planning on a huge shopping spree, you can put your filled luggage into an empty one. That way you don't have to lug an empty bag around.


Think of packing like a putting a puzzle together. Stuff your shoes with socks, the cups of your bra with undies. Stuffing your bras will not only free up some space, but it also helps keep the shape of the cups. Did your purchases come in a box? Unless you're planning to give the items as gifts, leave the boxes and the paper stuffing, and you'll save enough space for a few more shirts.


Accessories take less space than clothes, so just bring the basics and change the look with funky accessories or shawls. Scarves and shawls can also turn a casual outfit from day to night. Or if you're wearing a tank top and going to conservative places such as mosques and temples, a shawl or sarong can make an instant coverup.


When you've tried you best to fill every nook and cranny of your bag and the zip still refuses to close, try some wrestling moves on your luggage. The Undertaker's pile drive works best, and Hulk Hogan's leg drop's the worst, by the way. Throwing you bag around, assuming you don't have anything fragile in there, compresses the contents and thus frees up some space.


Towels are essential, but if you'll be staying in a hotel, these will definitely be provided. Survey the contents for things you can do without—do you need all those flyers from the tour you just joined? Or that stack of free magazines from the hotel? You don't have to take everything just because it's free.


Bring a foldable bag, such as an eco bag. These bags can save you from excess baggage fees and from shelling out more money on new luggage.


(Photo source: sxc.hu)

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  • Lourdes Espanol Mar 16 2010 @ 09:13am Report Abuse
    These are nice tips. Will surely follow them.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • princess Mar 16 2010 @ 04:05pm Report Abuse
    useful tips! :)
    Last modified A long time ago
  • vitris Mar 16 2010 @ 08:24pm Report Abuse
    yup, packing takes a lot of planning to lessen the effort! ;)
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Mrs. Kolca Mar 16 2010 @ 10:01pm Report Abuse
    hey, i often do the stuffing.. it helps a lot! and i also bring extra paper and plastic bags (singit lang sa gilid ng luggage) for emergency situations..^^
    Last modified A long time ago
  • anggeh Mar 16 2010 @ 10:08pm Report Abuse
    haha! i confess that I used some wrestling moves for my luggage. so funny. well it was necessary because it contained a lot of pasalubong and my hauls from shopping, plus i don't want to pay for extra baggage. i agree that it must be planned. a checklist is a must.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Aura Mar 17 2010 @ 01:25am Report Abuse
    this is very helpful! thanks a lot for sharing this.
    Last modified Apr 07 2010 @ 03:02pm
  • Bagel Mar 17 2010 @ 04:23pm Report Abuse
    just came from an outing with friends and space was really a problem especially if you are going to commute, we were thinking that we will not be able to get a room so we brought camping stuff only to find out that there is an available room for us. sigh!!!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Francoisa Mae Mar 18 2010 @ 01:55pm Report Abuse
    nice article that you came up with! KUDOS! very timely and informative.. :D
    Last modified A long time ago
  • April Mar 19 2010 @ 08:09am Report Abuse
    Wonderful tips! I always end up over packing things even though I only stay overnight.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • mimi Mar 20 2010 @ 10:56pm Report Abuse
    really helpful. i once charge extra baggage and i hate that day
    Last modified A long time ago
  • aniela Mar 24 2010 @ 02:23am Report Abuse
    i definitely need this tips...
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Teresa Apr 08 2010 @ 05:59am Report Abuse
    pack your bags at least three days before your trip.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • january May 18 2010 @ 07:21pm Report Abuse
    well, i have talent on doing this :)
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Anne Johnstone Oct 16 2010 @ 12:55am Report Abuse
    I will definitely use tips from this site, thank you.
    Last modified A long time ago
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