How to Pack Luggage Efficiently: 9 Tips to Travel Lighter How to Pack Luggage Efficiently: 9 Tips to Travel Lighter

How to Pack Luggage Efficiently: 9 Tips to Travel Lighter

Are you headed off on an adventurous backpacking trip, a cultured city break, or a relaxing poolside vacation? Wherever you’re going, you’ll need to pack various items for your trip. Arrive at your destination organized and ready to go by learning how to pack luggage efficiently: systemize your suitcase with packing cubes, plan your outfits ahead of time, or maximize space with sustainable toiletries. These top tips will help you lighten the load for the journey!

How to Pack Luggage

Learning how to pack luggage properly has multiple advantages. Not only will you be more organized on arrival and return, but you’ll also avoid paying overweight luggage fees and use less energy carrying heavy baggage. Whether it’s a long-term trip around the world or a short weekend break, these hacks on how to pack will help you for your vacation.

how to pack suitcase

How to Pack Checklist

Before you begin packing your suitcase, ask yourself a few questions to help you decide what you need for your trip. Consider these factors:

1. Weather

What’s the climate like in your destination? If you’re traveling somewhere hot and humid in Asia or South America, you’ll need lightweight, quick-drying fabrics to keep you cooler. On the other hand, if you’re visiting winter destinations in Europe, you’ll need to pack extra layers like coats, gloves, and hats.

how to pack south east asia

2. Religion

Is it a conservative country? In countries with a Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu population, such as Oman, Jordan, or India, it’s a good idea to be respectful and wear modest clothes that cover your legs, arms, and shoulders. A sarong or a scarf is a great lightweight option that rolls up easily in your bag and can be thrown on when necessary.

how to pack travel to muslim country

3. Budget or Luxury?

The kind of clothing you’ll need is also dependent on the type of trip you’re going on. If you’re going on a high-end vacation, like a honeymoon in the Maldives, you may want to pack dressy clothing for eating at nice restaurants. If you’re backpacking, you’ll want to pack clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and lightweight items that can easily be hand-washed if you don’t have access to a laundry room.

how to pack luxury rooftop

4. Trip Length

The duration of the trip is an excellent way to determine how much you’ll need. However, in general, there won’t be much difference between a 1-2 week trip and a 3-month trip. In fact, for a long trip, ‘less is more’ as you won’t want to carry too much luggage.

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How to Pack Luggage Efficiently: 9 Tips to Travel Lighter

5. Activities

If it’s an adventure holiday that involves hiking or sports, outdoor clothing and specialty gear might be required. Culture vultures that are planning on visiting temples will require conservative clothes that can cover their heads and/or bodies. Alternatively, a coastal road trip might mean more than one swimsuit is needed.

how to pack hike

6. Transportation

When thinking about how to pack luggage, consider the mode of transportation for your trip. If you’re flying, you may have stricter weight and size rules. If you’re traveling by train or bus, you may have a greater weight allowance, but you might want to choose a smaller suitcase/backpack that fits better in overhead luggage racks. 

how to pack train travel

Choosing your Wardrobe to pack

A fundamental way to pack lightly and efficiently is to narrow down the clothing and accessories you’ll need for your trip. Being more organized in the weeks leading up to your departure makes learning how to pack luggage that bit easier.

1. Plan Your Outfits Ahead of Time

Before your trip, sit down and decide what outfits you’ll need each day, incorporating some items that can be mixed and matched according to your mood. For example, if you’re planning to wear linen trousers and a T-shirt to sightsee in Madrid, consider carrying a smart blouse that you can change into in the evening.

Once you’ve got your list of outfits (according to your itinerary), take a look in your wardrobe to check you have everything and lay out looks on your bed to see what works the best.

how to pack light

2. Choose Clothes Based on Material and Color

From the outfits you’ve chosen, you can decide which items make the cut based on material, color, and prints. When considering how to pack luggage, think about selecting:

Lightweight Materials

Materials like cotton and linen can be rolled thinly (meaning you can fit more in your bag), and are also great for layering. This is particularly helpful if you’re going to encounter various climates on your trip. For example, during summer in France, it can be very hot during the day, but temperatures in higher areas can drop at night, meaning you might need an extra layer. These materials are also more breathable and dry quicker, making handwashing easier. 

how to pack summer in france
Mix and Match Items

Creating a capsule travel wardrobe for your trip is a great idea; you just need to choose versatile items that can be worn in multiple outfits. We recommend bringing basic pieces like a white T-shirt or a multi-use jacket, so you can still create various looks but pack less. 

how to pack morocco

3. Plan Your Plane Outfit (How to Pack for Travel Tip!)

Put aside your heaviest items to wear for the flight. For example, chunky boots, thick jumpers, or warm jackets. This will reduce the weight of your luggage and save you some room in your bag for souvenirs when you return.

how to pack spain

How to Pack your Luggage Efficiently 

Once you start packing your case, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep your luggage lighter and more organized for your journey.

1. Reduce Your Clothes by Half

Less is definitely more! Once you have your outfits planned out for your trip, consider trying to half your load. Stick with your favorite pieces that you’re most likely to wear multiple times, and eliminate any single-use items.

Remember, if you desperately need something at your destination, you can always buy it; it’s better than carrying around unnecessary heavy luggage for the duration of your trip. 

how to pack luggage efficently

2. Distribute Weight

Next, determine how best to distribute the weight according to your luggage type. This is especially important if you’re using a backpack to avoid back injuries. In this case, pack the heaviest items in the middle so the weight is distributed as close to your back as possible.

Place the lightest items (and the ones you need the most) at the top of the bag so they are easily accessible throughout your trip.

how to pack backpacker

3. Roll or Fold Your Clothes

One of the main ways to maximize space in your bag is to roll or fold your clothes. There is no evidence to suggest that either method is better, so it really depends on your personal preference. Rolling your clothes is handy for squeezing items into small spaces, whereas folding might keep clothes wrinkle-free.

how to pack luggage fold or roll clothes

4. Use Packing Cubes (How to Pack Top Tip!)

Packing cubes separate your items and make things much easier to find during your trip. They also help to reduce wrinkles and creases in clothing. We purchased our packing cubes here.

How to Use Packing Cubes
  • Label each cube. Start by designating a cube for each item. For example, you might have one cube for tops and one for bottoms.
  • Use different sizes. Depending on the type of trip, you’ll want to use various-sized cubes. For example, a 2-week trip in Albania might require several large packing cubes, whereas a weekend trip may only require one. As you learn how to use packing cubes, you’ll decipher how much you can carry within each size.
  • Buy well-designed packing cubes. Choose packing cubes with netting or a clear plastic front to easily see what’s inside.
  • Pack the biggest cubes first. When deciding how to pack, place the larger cubes in your case first and the smaller ones around it (like a game of Tetris!).
  • Dirty laundry cube. Include an empty packing cube for dirty laundry to keep your unwashed clothes separate from your clean ones. This way, you can empty it straight into the washing machine when you return. Consider dividing your dirty laundry into two cubes for lights and colors to save you time organizing.
how to pack luggage packing cubes

5. List for Packing Toiletries

Toiletries can be heavy and take up a lot of room in your bag. We purchased our toiletry bag here. When considering how to pack for travel, use this toiletry packing list to save space: 

  • Foldable toiletry bag. These bags fold up small but can be opened out and hung up in the bathroom once you arrive. This way, you can easily see your organized toiletries.
  • Plastic-free toiletries. Choose to go plastic-free by purchasing shampoo bars, deodorant bars, and toothpaste tablets. Most of these come in small tins and occupy almost no room in your bag. They are also liquid-free, making them an excellent option for hand luggage.
how to pack toiletry bag
  • Reusable/washable makeup pads. These fold up super small, and you will only need to take a few as you can re-wash them. They are also far better for the environment!
  • Safety razor. Packing one safety razor reduces the need for a big pack of disposable razors, and it helps the environment by reducing plastic waste. Put a large clip over the top of the razor to protect it from cutting other materials in your bag.
how to pack zero waste

6. Split the Essentials

If you’re traveling with other people, you can share essentials. For example, one person packs moisturizer and the other reef-safe sunscreen. You can also split bulky/heavy items like hairdryers or straighteners. 

how to pack sunscreen

How to Pack Hand Luggage

Depending on your baggage allowance, you may be able to take a small separate bag for the journey. Consider packing:

  • A refillable water bottle. You can leave this empty as you pass through security and later refill at airport water fountains. (Get your’s here)
  • Travel pillow (Check pillows here)
  • Eye mask
  • Earplugs (also helpful if you’re backpacking and sleeping in shared dorms)
  • Headphones
  • Laptop/ Camera gear (keep these close to you when you are traveling in case of theft or breakage) 
  • A toothbrush and change of clothes (stay fresh for long or overnight flights)
refillable water bottle

Hand Luggage Only

In some cases, your hand luggage might be the only bag you bring. In this case, you’ll need to be stricter with what you carry, as you’ll have space, weight, and liquid limitations.

If you’re bringing hand luggage for a week-long trip, you might want to consider bringing neutral-colored pieces you can mix and match, as well as lightweight fabrics that you can handwash easily to reuse throughout the trip.

how to pack greece

List for Packing

When thinking about how to pack luggage, first consider the type of trip, vacation length, and climate. Although your packing list may change slightly according to these answers, there are a few essentials that every traveler should bring.

Clothing and Footwear

  • T-shirts + Jumpers
  • Shorts + Trousers
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Pyjamas
  • Underwear 
  • 2 x shoes (1 for walking/1 nicer pair)  
how to pack raincoat
how to pack costa rica

Toiletries and Electricals

universal adapter

Travel Accessories (For Safety + Comfort)

  • Padlock. Locking your suitcase or backpack can give you peace of mind when traveling, especially if you leave your baggage in the hold of the bus or airplane.
  • Money belt. This can wrap up really small in your case and is great to wear under your clothes when carrying cash or valuables.
  • Small first aid kit. Pack any medications you may need, as well as band-aids and insect bite cream.
  • Waterproof backpack cover. Especially in tropical destinations, heavy downpours are likely. A cover will protect the rain from getting through to your clothes.
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