Hacks to Pack a Suitcase

You’d be surprised how much you can fit in a carry-on

With travel back in full swing and flights filled to the brim, you might think about just packing a carry-on to get in and out of the airport with more ease. Don’t worry about fitting it all–there are all kinds of tips and tricks to efficiently pack a suitcase to fit everything you need. Discover some hacks from seasoned travelers that you might not have thought of to step up your packing game. 


Outfit Planning

The most important thing when you pack…is to not overpack. If you’re smart and organized, you can fit everything you need for a trip in a carry-on. Frequent business traveler Marcia swears by bringing neutrals that she can mix and match and also plans to layer. “I tend to bring only a few pairs of pants and more tops.” She also recommends dark colors because they show fewer stains and to bring shoes you can wear day to night. Speaking of, pack a stain stick and little packets of Tide to wash in the sink in case of stain emergencies. 

Eagle Creek Bags
Photo provided by Eagle Creek.

Bags in bags

Packing cubes are a traveler’s essential trick of the trade. It’s like having little bags in your bags to help you stay organized. We love Eagle Creek. To pack each cube, savvy traveler Samantha Evans says, “I fold mostly and then roll to fill in extra space. And slide flat stuff in behind.”

“I categorize the bags too,” says online strength coach Liza Rodriguez. “One compressible cube has all bras, socks, and underwear. Another cube has only workout clothes and another cube has toiletries. The last cube has jeans, dresses, and tops. That way I know where everything is and can tell if I’m missing something. I have one packing cube that has an open-air mesh on top and this is where my dirty clothes go so I don’t have to mix them with my clean clothes.”

Our Portico Founder Jacqueline Hampton likes to keep things organized using Bag-all bags, like one for dirty clothes and another to hold all her electronic cords. She also loves these quotable pouches for this and that.

Photo by Sarah Brown from Unsplash.

Vertical folding

While “fold then roll” is a popular method and good for filling in some nooks and crannies, digital nomad Molly Falco recommends borrowing a page from Marie Kondo where you fold and pack vertically to allow for more room. “I’m packing unprecedented amounts since I made the switch, and it’s doing absolutely nothing to curb my shopping habit,” says Falco. 


Bottom to top

Liza also uses a method where she “dresses” her bag from top to bottom: “I put bulky shoes on the bottom, packing cubes on top and any flats/sandals on the outer lining after I’ve packed. Jackets or bulky clothes that didn’t fit in the cubes go on top.” Speaking of shoes, Jacqueline likes stuffing socks into shoes to not only save space but also to help them keep their shape. 


Weight Down

To protect your items from getting crushed, Becca Siegel from @Halfhalftravel recommends, “Load your suitcase with items that are heaviest and seem the densest toward the wheels so that they don’t slide further down and crush valuables when your suitcase is standing up.” 


Foldable Bag

At Portico, we love bringing a foldable bag along for day trips, souvenirs, or for when it inevitably seems more challenging to pack your suitcase to go home. You can bring along an extra tote that folds easily like Bric’s X-Bag Folding Duffel or we love the New Outlander Foldable Backpack. 


Pack Up + Go

If you’re looking to make your travel as easy as possible, check out Pack Up + Go Picks where you can buy three days’ worth of curated ideas for select US cities. Look for the Pack Up + Go link in your trip. As a Portico member, you’ll receive a special discount.


Note: The Portico team helps you better organize ideas for travel. All of our picks are independently selected. If you buy something we link to, we may earn commission, including from Amazon.