Ted Bauer, VirtuosoBy Ted Bauer
Digital Content Manager
Virtuoso

You know the scene. You’re at the airport, and you have to check a bag or print a boarding pass. Somewhere in the check-in area, there will be – there seemingly always is – a family with about 19 massive bags and all kinds of different rolling devices and ways to transport them from A to B. The father and mother typically look annoyed at the pace of service. The kids are using the bags as some kind of base for a game or fort. You just have that one roller for a domestic trip. You wonder how a family can generate so much luggage.

There has to be a more effective system, right?

If you’ve ever wondered this, you’re not alone. A Google search for “how to pack better” yields roughly 316 million results, including this Virtuoso Life article (focused on packing carry-ons).

In those 316 million results, is there a consensus? Can this mysterious art truly be mastered? Let’s take a deeper dive with these travel packing tips.

Travel packing tips: Two business travelers rolling small suitcases
Pick the right suitcase for the trip, such as a small roller bag for a short business trip

Picking the Right Bag

This is where it all begins. What type of trip is this, and what’s the duration? If it’s more outdoor-focused, then duffel bags and backpacks make perfect sense. If it’s a three-day business trip to Chicago, an elegant roller and one other bag for dress clothes is a better bet.

Carry-on size limits vary by airline. So research those beforehand if you plan on just using a carry-on. (One of the only things more exasperating than the family with 19 bags is the traveler trying to shove a massive bag into the overhead in a crowded aisle on a flight that’s already delayed.)

If you’re unsure of what type of bag to take on a specific type of trip, ask your travel advisor. Don’t have one? Virtuoso can help. Also crowd-source your friends who either (a) travel a good deal or (b) have been to a specific location. They’ll have smart travel packing tips for you.

The Planning Process

Make a day-by-day plan. You may not stick to it, but you need a baseline. To do this:

  • Check the weather of where you’re traveling each day
  • Consult your itinerary, ideally co-created with an advisor
  • What days are you doing fancier activities vs. more casual activities?
  • When will you need to ‘dress to impress’ at a dinner vs. eating alongside a beach?
  • Are there several days where the range of activities would necessitate a few attire changes?
  • What’s the total duration of the trip? (That’s generally a good base number to use for “underwear” and “socks,” FYI.)
Travel packing tips: overflowing messy suitcase on bed
Planning what you need for each day of your trip will help you avoid a cluttered, overflowing suitcase

Now Compile a List

Once you have your plan, make a list of every item you need to bring. The list ensures you never forget to bring something important and reduces that panic of last-minute packing. Include even those ‘duh’ items, like a toothbrush and comb.

Lay It All Out

Lay out all the items from your list where you can get an overview. A bed works well. You can easily see if you’re forgetting anything. And you can also see what you might be able to leave at home for a lighter bag.

Determine Your In-Transit Outfit

With a strategic travel ensemble, you’ll have less to pack. This varies by gender. For females, it typically involves walkable shoes, a large travel tote and multiple layers. For males? Channel Steve McQueen.

Compartmentalize

Some people swear by packing with compression sacs. They condense your clothes into a tight bundle and save suitcase space.

Others love packing cubes. Each type of garment gets its own cube. They help you organize your clothing, configure everything in your suitcase and easily unpack at your destination.

Then there are stuff sacks. One of the more popular packing articles on Google is from Matador Network. (An aside: its CEO spoke to Virtuoso advisors and suppliers about digital marketing at our annual Virtuoso Travel Week event.) The article recommends using stuff sacks to organize your clothes. You can put t-shirts in one, pants in another, shoes in a series of two or three. You can also buy compression sacks that reduce the size of the items in the bag.

Or go simple and use clear plastic zip lock bags. They organize your clothing, help you see what you want inside your suitcase, prevent leaks from liquids and keep stuff dry. They also come in handy in a multitude of other ways. Pack bags in different sizes:

  • Big ones are great for organizing items like underwear or t-shirts in a single bag.
  • Small ones are handy for packing little items that might get lost in the suitcase.

Bring spares for various uses during your travels: dirty laundry, new acquisitions, wet swimsuits, snacks on the go.

Travel packing tips: businessman folding pants to pack in suitcase
Learning what can be rolled and what should be folded will help you pack better

Roll Softer Garments, Fold Stiffer Ones

There’s some disagreement on the Internet about how best to pack stiffer garments (think clothes that would need to be dry-cleaned). But the general consensus is that underwear, t-shirts, jeans, and other knit clothing won’t wrinkle if rolled tightly. You can even roll garments in tissue paper to further combat wrinkles.

Shirts, blazers, dress pants, and the like should be folded carefully and placed above the rolled clothes in the suitcase. More delicate items, such as evening wear, should go on top.

Solving the Shoe Issue

Ah, shoes. We need them, yet they take up so much space in a bag. Pack as few pairs as you can get away with. Some experts advise no more than three, but your trip might call for more. Take the lightest pairs you can. If you can, leave the hiking boots behind. Pack shoes that do double duty for day or night. And think neutral: black or brown shoes will match more outfits than green.

To pack shoes, put them in bags to avoid getting the rest of your stuff dirty. Pack them along the bottom of the suitcase, with soles touching the suitcase’s bottom. Stuff smaller items inside them to save space and protect those items.

Get Visual Travel Packing Tips

If you’re a visual learner, YouTube is great for developing all types of skills. Packing is no different. In fact, YouTube offers some 200,000 videos on just that.

Consider these three options full of travel packing tips:

Heathrow Airport’s ‘How To Pack Like A Pro’

 

Von Malegowski’s How To Pack Clothes For Traveling

 

Army Packing Hacks

(You know the army tends to do stuff with an eye towards efficiency, no?)

The Power of Your Advisor

There are dozens of reasons why travelers turn to a Virtuoso advisor. Some of the biggest are value, personalized planning, and global connections.

There are dozens more little reasons that you wouldn’t think of initially. Travel packing tips fall squarely into that category. Hundreds of Virtuoso advisors have visited a triple-digit number of countries, and hundreds more have visited 70+. That’s a lot of flights, and a lot of packing. Ask them for their best travel packing tips and tricks.

What are your sure-fire travel packing tips? Please share one or more with us.

5 comments

  1. I am going on a business trip tomorrow and have yet to pack my luggage just yet. I already have everything planned out and know exactly what I’ll need. However, I just haven’t put it all in the luggage case. I like the idea of using compression sacs to compartmentalize my space better and to reduce the size of the items in the bag. But I do have several shirts that I am going to need to keep nice and not get wrinkled. What is the best way to keep clothes from getting wrinkled while being packed away?

  2. Thanks for your interest, Faylinn. You can try folding the shirts carefully and putting them on top of everything else before you close the suitcase. You can also roll shirts in tissue paper to further combat wrinkles. If the shirts are made from a knit material, rolling instead of folding them may help.

  3. I think my best tips is to lay out what you want to pack on your bed or the floor (if it’s not too long ago since you last vaccumed!), and then make yourself discard one third of it. You’ll be amazed to realise that you will do very nicely with what is left.

    Also, make sure that everything you pack can be used together with every other item. Then pick accessories for variation and dressing up, like scarves, jewellery, ties. That way you will manage with much less clothes than if you bring set outfits.

    And I do not recommend bringing more than two pairs of shoes, one dressier pair and one for walking. You’ll manage just fine with that.

    Safe journey 🙂

  4. Fantastic experience after reading your outstanding and unique blog. You have provided very helpful and useful information about how to pack our bag in a smart way. I always pack my stuff in one suitcase with my husband so that space can be saved.

  5. Thank you for this information about suitcase success. It is good to know that bags with rolling devices make it easier to transport them from point A to point B. This would be beneficial when traveling long distances. Something to consider would be to find a rolling bag within my budget.

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