There’s a reason most people leave packing for a big trip to the last minute. It’s the one part of traveling nobody enjoys. You want to pack for every contingency but you don’t want to lug around a giant suitcase.
Multiple bags are even worse. It increases the chance that one of them will be lost and the cost of every additional checked bag when flying can really put a damper on your travel budget.
7 Essential Packing Methods for Small Suitcases
1. Roll, Don’t Fold
Forget what your mom always said about folding your clothes.
Folded clothes take up a large amount of valuable surface area in your suitcase. That space may be good for stacking folded clothes on top of each other, but very little else.
You’ve essentially assigned 50 to 75 percent of your suitcases’ space to clothes. by rolling your clothes, you’re more flexible. Rolled clothes can fit in those odd nooks and crannies created by the other nick nacks you have packed.
For shirts and other tops, fold the clothes in half vertically first, then fold in the sleeves, and then roll. For pants and jeans, simply fold them in half and then roll them up.
Be sure to roll the clothes as tightly as you can. If you don’t care about the lines they will leave in your clothes, rubber bands are a usual way to accomplish this.
If you do, the next method we will talk about is a perfect alternative.
2. Invest In Compression
Reusable compression sacks are one of the most useful tools for all packing methods.
Essentially, compression sacks are bags for your clothing that will compress all the air out of the bag in order to truly maximize the space. You’d be surprised how much room empty air takes up when you’re trying to squeeze as many articles of clothing as possible into one bag.
If you’re going to pack bulky outerwear clothes like jackets or sweatshirts, compression sacks are a must. They can save you up to 75 percent of the room in your bags that would have otherwise gone to those bulky clothes.
If you want to be especially thrifty, a large enough zip lock bag can function as a compression sack easily enough.
3. Pack Ahead Of Time
While we know it’s always a pain to pack ahead of schedule, you might not know some of the secret benefits.
By letting your clothes sit in the bag overnight, you can harness the power of gravity and physics to force that extra 5 to 10 percent of air out of them.
If you’re using your compression bag on your heavier outerwear clothes, keep them on the bottom of the suitcase and place your tightly rolled clothes on top.
After a night’s sleep, you’ll be surprised at how much more room there seems to be in the suitcase when you wake up in the morning. It might not be enough room to add anything else incredibly large. But it could be enough to finally squeeze in that extra pair of socks or your favorite pair of gloves.
Every bit of space counts when you’re packing.
4. Multipurpose Items
Get rid of anything that can only be used for a singular purpose. Unless that function is incredibly vital or can’t be replicated with something that can do other things, it’s not necessary.
Here are a few items that will help you cut down on what to bring:
- Shampoo can be used for much more than just your hair. The right bottle can function as a conditioner, body wash, dish detergent, and face wash. Don’t overload your toiletries bag with five bottles. Invest in a multi purpose shampoo.
- Vaseline is another toiletries space saver. You’d be amazed how much you can do with a tub of vaseline, from lip balm to cuticle cream to alternative WD-40.
- The right scarf can serve as a towel, cap, sheet, strap for a bag, or hair tie. Scarves are one of the most multifunctional pieces of clothing and they won’t take up much space to begin with.
Be sure to also pack clothes and shoes that you can wear many times in many different circumstances. Nothing is as fashionable as practicality when you’re packing.
5. Use Your Shoes
Good packing methods are all about maximizing the whatever space you have. The holes in shoes are one such space.
Shove whatever you can fit in them, from socks to belts to whatever extra small toiletry bottles you want to bring.
Shoes are one the most annoying items to make space for in your suitcase. Make sure you get everything you can out of their presence.
6. Pack By Outfit
You don’t want to have packed anything that you didn’t use at least once, or even twice depending on the length of your trip.
When you’re packing your clothes, make sure you’re thinking about how you will wear them and with what. That way, you won’t pack an extra blouse or pair of jeans that might take up valuable room.
You don’t have to exactly stick to these specific outfits. It’s more about visualizing exactly what you will need.
7. Maximize Your Carry-On
If you are using your carry-on in addition to a checked bag, make use of that space. You might think of a carry-on as something to carry the things that will help you get through the flight.
But you need to be thinking long-term. Anything oddly shaped or overly large that would disrupt the packing methods you used on for your suitcase should go on the carry-on.
If you are using your carry-on as your main suitcase, maximize yourself. Wear that bulky jacket that was taking up so much room on the flight. Fill the jacket pockets with whatever will fit in them and can make it through airport security.
Remember that each trip is a learning experience. Every time you travel and realize you didn’t use something you packed, remember that for next time. Squeeze in a universal travel adapter as well.
With these packing methods, you will be able to truly maximize your small suitcase and get all your travel gear for Europe safely packed away. Don’t forget some luggage locks and luggage tags. Now that you’re all packed, all you need is a destination.