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Travel packing tips: how to pack a small suitcase

Read this article to discover the best way to pack a suitcase to fit in as much as possible. We've also put together a travel essentials list to make life on the go easier.


By Cleanipedia Team

In the middle of packing a suitcase with it lying open

Key Steps

  • Use all available space, including putting rolled-up socks in your shoes and filling gaps with your phone and laptop chargers.
  • Try out packing tips like rolling clothes instead of folding them.
  • Zip your suitcase to compress the contents and free up space.
  • Use travel space saver or zip lock bags to remove excess air and free up space.
  • If you travel regularly, work out which items you always use and put together a travel essentials carry-on kit.

Whether you're packing light due to hand luggage size restrictions or you're limiting your backpacking supplies to one rucksack, it’s always handy to know how to pack a small suitcase efficiently. This article will share the best way to pack a suitcase, as well as tips on packing light and cleverly and which international travel essentials are essential enough to merit space in your carry-on.

When packing light it’s best to use a material suitcase or rucksack instead of a hard one. This will allow you to get more in to the small space available.

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Top seven packing tips for suitcase and rucksack packing

The best way to pack a suitcase is to make the most of every bit of space available to you. Here are our top seven packing tips for packing a suitcase efficiently.

  1. Plan ahead. Before packing, draw up two lists. One of everything that you need, including medications and sun cream. The second is a plan of outfits. When you’re packing light choose one core piece, such as a pair of black trousers, which you can adapt for both casual and smart occasions with other items.
  2. Roll, don’t fold. Rolling your clothing is the best way to pack a suitcase to make sure that you fit in as much as possible. This will also help to keep your clothing wrinkle-free.
  3. Use your shoes. You’ll probably want more than one pair of shoes on your holiday. Wear the bulkiest pair and use the inside of others to store socks and underwear inside your suitcase.
  4. Zip up to pack more. Even if you think you’ve packed everything you can, you may still be able to get more in. Zipping up your suitcase compresses the contents, meaning you may find some extra space in the corners or between large items.
  5. Bag it up. Travel space saver bags or standard zip lock bags are great ways to compress clothing and other items when packing a suitcase. They remove the air and allowing each piece to take up less space.
  6. Use the bundle packing method. You may have seen YouTube videos of this fun and efficient technique for packing bags. Start with the smallest items such as socks and underwear, wrapping each item around the other to create a bundle.
  7. Fill small spaces. If there are spots in between your clothes, shoes and more, fill them in with phone chargers and other small, more awkward items. This is where your mini travel essentials come into play if you're just jetting off on holiday — stuff them wherever they fit. If you're travelling for work on a more regular basis, you may want to get your suitcase tetris down a bit more solidly.

Travel essentials for frequent flyers

If you travel for work regularly, it's probably worth putting together a kit of the best air travel accessories to keep going in style. There are lots of mini travel essentials — clothing and styling-related as well as the well-known personal hygiene minis.

What to pack for a 3-day trip

  • Travel-size styling equipment if essential to your hairstyle, incl. brush or comb (but skip the hairdryer, assuming you're staying at a hotel)
  • Hygiene pack consisting of travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Make-up minis and remover if you wear make-up
  • Rescue pack with mini clothes roller, shoe buffer, and very basic sewing kit
  • Freshen up clothes with something like Day 2 rather than packing lots of changes of clothing

With these world travel essentials and top travel packing tips for suitcases with limited space, packing bags for cabin size restrictions and easy travelling will be a breeze. Bon voyage!

Originally published