Packing may seem simple, but it is a science with rules that travelers often learn the hard way over thousands of miles on the road. Doing it strategically can be the difference between vacation with countless detours to local drugstores and a streamlined one with everything you need at your fingertips. Here’s our shortcut to packing the right way: how to find the best suitcase, minimize your load, pack what you need on a beach trip or a business trip and cut down on wrinkles.
A general rule of thumb for how much of what to bring follows, though you’ll want to adapt it depending on how formally you’ll need to dress:
- Unmentionables: Pack a clean pair of socks, undershirts, and underwear for everyday.
- Shirts or dresses: two fewer than the total number of days in the trip—wear the same outfit on the flight back as you did on the flight out, save two days worth of clothing.
- Pants: a pair of jeans for every other day, slacks as needed.
- Shoes: two pairs of casual shoes (ie a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers) and a pair of formal kicks.
Predict the Weather
This should go without saying, but take a moment to check the weather forecast for your destination before you start shoving stuff into a suitcase. There is a nominal but bone-chilling difference between 40 degrees with clear skies and 40 degrees and raining, so make sure you are adequately prepared.
Rolling vs Folding
Once you’ve picked out what you’re going to wear, the real challenge begins: cramming it all into your luggage. There are two schools of thought when it comes to putting clothes into bags: folding and rolling. Folded clothes are less likely to wrinkle but take up more space. Conversely, rolled clothes will wrinkle if stored improperly but take up a fraction of the space as when folded. Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t use both methods—which, actually, you should.
Soft, wrinkle-resistant materials like knits, wool, and cotton can all be rolled without much worry—just make sure you keep the roll tight, since loose rolling will result in wrinkles, regardless of the material. Starched garments like collared shirts and dressier items should always be folded. The combination should be enough to let you cram everything in without looking like a mess at your destination.