10 Tips to (nearly) Perfect Packing

By: Isaac Smoler Schatz

I know I’m occasionally guilty of waiting until the last minute with any number of things. Luckily, that strategy works out fine for the overwhelming majority of the time, but when it comes to packing for a trip I have learned the value of planning ahead and scrutinizing what gets zipped in and what ends up left on my bed. You can spare yourself the stress of realizing that you only have left shoes or forgot to bring your laptop when unpacking your bags on the other end of a flight. When it comes to packing there is a highly-sought-after, but rarely-found place between not forgetting any necessities and not overpacking that most travelers only dream of finding for themselves.

Although there is no set of hard and fast rules for what to bring when you travel, here are 10 piping hot tips right off the press to help you optimize your packing process for your next big adventure.

Make a list and stick to it. Think about how many days you’ll be traveling, your ability to do laundry, the weather, and the activities you’ll be doing (including carrying/wheeling your bags around). Consider if you’ll need an outlet converter to use charges for whichever devices you plan on bringing and if so what kind. You can search outlet types by country here.

Investigate all the pockets and compartments at your packing disposal. Some of the suitcases out there have pockets inside of pockets, zippers that expand the bag, and mesh netting for specific items. The humble duffle bag might appeal to those who favor an open-concept packing layout.

Roll, Roll, Roll you clothes, packing is a dream! Roll as many of your clothes as possible rather than folding them–believe me it’ll save lots of space and I swear prevents creasing too. I developed this technique that rolls sweatshirts up into their hoods that makes them look like croissants.

Stuff your socks and/or underwear into your shoes. This serves a dual purpose: (1) saves a bit of space and (2) holds the shape of your footwear. I like to pack shoes last with the soles facing out – let flat surfaces like the bottom of a sneaker hug the flat edges of a suitcase.

Wear your bulkiest clothes to travel. This is a play to avoid worry about coats and other larger items taking up more than their weight in your suitcase or duffle–pun fully and unapologetically intended. You’re also guaranteed to be warm and cozy even if the person next to you on the plane decides they need an 11 hour blast of cool air from that overhead nozzle.

Layering is your friend. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

Pack a few extra empty bags (e.g. ziplocks, tote bags, flattened backpack). These are sustainable and super handy for any purchases or shopping you might do. I’ve used them to carry things around while I was abroad and they were my backup plan for the case in which I couldn’t fit everything I had brought initially and bought while abroad back into my suitcase for the return trip home. I’m sure I could’ve gotten around this by leaving extra space in my luggage anticipating this possibility, but I had this small backpack that I emptied out and just laid on top of my clothes before zipping my suitcase.

Bring the mini versions of liquids or other toiletries. You can always buy more if needed, but the full-size shampoos and soaps add unnecessary weight and just increase the damage potential if there is a spill or leak.

Double-bag any liquids so they are separated from everything else. To quote the Great British Baking Show, “Nobody likes a soggy bottom” of their luggage.

Make sure to pack your absolute essentials and at least one change of clothes in your carry-on. This is always a good move because air travel is like a giant clothes dryer; most of the time all goes to plan, but every now and again a sock or your entire wardrobe for the next two-and-a-half months goes missing.

BONUS TIP: Become a pro Tetris player. The spatial awareness and fast decision making is a great training ground for high stakes speed packing situations like an impending hurricane or viral pandemic.