TOP 10 TIPS FOR PACKING A SUITCASE | Published January 9th, 2021 | Last Updated January 9th, 2021

Packed suitcases and handbag sitting in a courtyard

Believe it or not, there's an art to packing. It’s about making the best use of space, quickly finding the items you need when on the road, and trying to make your luggage as light as possible. It’s a balancing act that you can get a handle on by following the ten tips below.

Packing Cubes

1 - AVID TRAVELLERS WHO USE PACKING CUBES SWEAR BY THEM - They are an immense help in taming unorganized suitcases by making it easier to find items on the bottom without dishevelling everything on top. When using packing cubes, you can either pack by outfit or by article. For example, you can fill one cube with all t-shirts and shorts, another with all undergarments, or you can pack three or four full outfits together in one cube and a few outfits in another. Use this link to find the set of packing cubes pictured here.

Grey packing cube set with laundry and shoe bags

Packing Cubes are a Necessity for Organized Travel

Don’t pack valuables

2 - NEVER PUT ANYTHING OF GREAT VALUE IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE - This means cash, essential documents, jewelry, electronic equipment, camera equipment etc. Checked baggage may either get lost, or as unfortunate as it is, items may be taken from them.

You're permitted to put locks on checked luggage, however, different countries have different rules on how they proceed if a bag must be opened. In Canada, officers are not allowed to break locks but they can open and re-secure a lock, meaning that someone may still have the opportunity to go through the contents of your bag. Better to be safe than sorry and not pack items of value in checked luggage to begin with.

Packing Toiletries

3 - PUT YOUR TOILETRIES IN A BAG THAT CAN BE SEALED OR ZIPPED SHUT - It's so beneficial if the bag has a plastic interior lining so if spills occur it's less likely they'll leak. If you have items in travel-sized bottles, they are often not as secure as the original packages they were purchased in; it's a good idea to put these in a ziplock, and then put them in your larger toiletry bag.

Navy and gold toiletry bag with 100ml travel sized bottles

Opt for a Toiletry Bag with a Plastic Liner to Prevent Leaks in your Luggage

Laundry Bags

4 - HAVE A SEPARATE SPOT FOR YOUR DIRTY CLOTHES - While no one wants to think about the end of a vacation, it comes eventually. Having a laundry bag already filled with the clothes you’ve worn makes your washing task more manageable when you may be jet-lagged. Having clothes sorted during a trip is also helpful; put your dirty clothes in the bag at the end of the day, and you will have a much easier time getting ready with the clothes already divided.

Grey and cream travel laundry bags with drawstring

Travel Laundry Bags Are Beneficial for Sorting Clothes in your Luggage

Preventing Wrinkles

5 - ROLL YOUR CLOTHES INSTEAD OF FOLDING - While rolled clothes will still have wrinkles, they won't be as creased as they would be if they were folded. Another benefit is that it takes up less room. If clothes are folded they cannot be tucked into the tiny spaces in the outer area of the suitcase; rolled clothes can fit from corner to corner.

If you're in a hotel with hangers be sure to take advantage of it. Hang your favourite items when you arrive to let the wrinkles fall out. It’s even better if you can put them on hangers in the bathroom while you have a shower and let the steam do the work.

How Much to Pack

6 - LAY OUT ALL THE ITEMS YOU WANT TO TAKE, THEN EDIT AND EDIT AGAIN - This is the cardinal rule for packing. The more you travel, the more you realize that you often pack too many items and are stuck lugging more than necessary. This will never be more apparent than when you reach a train platform and realize there are no escalators or elevators. Lugging those heavy bags up and down stairs when travelling solo makes you pack smarter and lighter for future destinations.

Woman packing clothes for travel

Lay Out the Clothes You Want to Take, then Edit and Edit Again


7 - IF YOU LIKE BRINGING SOUVENIRS HOME, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOM FOR THEM - This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. If you overpack, but like to bring treasures home with you, you'll either have to buy a small piece of luggage and pay for a second checked bag or fit them in the luggage you already have. I prefer the latter.

Hotel Amenities

8 - CHECK IF YOUR ACCOMMODATION PROVIDES TOILETRIES AND A HAIRDRYER - If so, there are fewer items to pack. In my early days of travelling, I brought my hairdryer to every destination I visited. Once I realized that all the accommodations I stayed at had a blowdryer, it was one less item to pack; it also meant that I didn’t need to bring along a voltage converter, which is a double bonus! Personally, I like my own toiletries, but some people can make great use of the ones provided if they aren’t particular.

Hotel toiletries including loofahs, towels, sponges, and soaps

Check Hotel Toiletries and Amenities Before Packing; It May Mean Less Items to Take with You

​Packing List

9 - USE A PACKING LIST - creating one in an app or on a printable piece of paper like the Ultimate Travel Packing List here ensures that you won't miss any essentials. It’s also a great idea to have a few variations of that list for hot and cold climates. Note: Packing lists for different seasons will be available on the website a later date.


10 - CHOOSE CLOTHING THAT WORKS WELL TOGETHER - For example, chose a few base pieces in neutral tones - whites, creams, blacks, and greys then add a few pieces of colour to change the look. You can get more use out of fewer articles of clothing if you have base pieces then mix them up to create more outfits.

Boots, pants, shirt and belt in neutral tones

Choose Neutral Clothing as a Base for Your Outfits That Can be Worn More than Once

Now that all the packing is done, it’s a good idea to take that suitcase for a stroll. If you're going up and down stairs, on and off trains, and down cobblestone streets, you’ll need to see how it feels to lug that weight with you. If you find the bags are too cumbersome, it’s time to edit again...and again.

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