Holiday Packing: Perfect Preparation Tips For Your Next Trip

Pixabay (CC0 Licence) It’s fair to say that packing your main suitcase for a holiday is rarely a welcome task. Sure, there’s a s...

It’s fair to say that packing your main suitcase for a holiday is rarely a welcome task. Sure, there’s a sense of excitement, something that makes it feel as if your holiday is more “real” and just around the corner - but the actual packing process always tends to feel like a chore. 

However, if you are venturing away from home, packing is an undeniable necessity, so it’s worth considering how you can ensure the process is both effective and easy for you to manage. Below, we’ve separated the process of packing your main suitcase into three phases and provided tips to help you through each one; so here’s what you need to know… 

Phase One: Supplies and equipment

The first step to successful packing is supplies - but not in terms of clothes or items you need to remember to take. Instead, focus first on supplies that will make packing itself easier, such as:

  • Packing cubes are a very basic concept - they’re essentially fabric pouches that can be zipped closed - but anyone who tries them tends to find them revelationary. Not only do cubes help to organise items in your suitcase, they can also make “settling in” to your hotel or hostel incredibly simple. Rather than having to unpack each item in turn, you can just remove each cube and store it in a designated area (for example, a packing cube containing your toiletries can be placed in the bathroom) and then remove each item as needed. You can buy packing cubes anywhere online, and they are usually relatively inexpensive too.
  • Small plastic storage boxes can also be helpful for items such items that might become tangled or lost if they were stored individually, such as jewellery, or items that need a little more protection than the fabric of packing cubes can provide. You can usually buy inexpensive small boxes online or even at hardware stores.
  • Elastic bands can also be useful for a variety of purposes, such as grouping together documents or keeping items that need to be worn or used in pairs together, so it’s helpful to make sure you have a few to hand. 
  • Finally, it could be worth buying or making scented drawer liners - while not an essential, drawer liners are a great way of adding a pleasant scent to your clothes and can be transferred to your hotel room’s drawers when you arrive. 

When you have all of your supplies, you’re ready to move onto… 

Phase Two: Non-clothing items 

Many people start the packing process by focusing on their clothes, but prioritising non-clothing can actually be the better choice. Clothes can be folded and squeezed around other items as they have more “give” than, for example, a shampoo bottle or digital camera. 

You’ll first need to make a list of all the non-clothing-related items you’ll need for your trip, but that you do not expect to need to access before you arrive at your hotel: 

  • Think first about your health, such as sunscreen with a good SPF, tablets to stop you contracting malaria if you’re visiting a country where malaria is a known risk, sunglasses with a good UV rating, and so on. 
  • Next, consider your digital and electronic needs, such as your digital camera, USB cables, memory cards, and so on.
  • You can then add everyday essentials such as toiletries, makeup, hair bobbles, and similar items to your list. 

You should now have a list of all the non-clothes items you will need for your trip, so you can start gathering them together. For items that you need to buy, place the orders as soon as possible, and wait until you have absolutely everything you need before you start to pack. Doing this helps to ensure you can keep track of each item and that you will be able to make space for everything you will need, which helps to avoid needing to repack to add items you may have initially overlooked.

When you have everything you need to hand, start sorting items into your packing cubes or storage boxes and place these in your suitcase. As you do so, cross each item off your original list. When everything is in place, you should have an idea of how much space you have left available for the final phase… 

Phase Three: Clothes and shoes 

Deciding the shoes and clothes that you want to take with you on holiday is entirely subjective, influenced by factors such as the weather at your destination and your willingness to upgrade your baggage allowance if necessary. However, if you - like many people - want to cut down how many clothes you take, here’s a few techniques to consider:

  • One option is to choose your clothes and shoes as if you have no restrictions at all; just what you would pack instinctively, based on what you think you are most likely to wear… and then cut the number of items chosen by a third. 
  • Alternatively, you could create a hierarchy that allows you to trim your selection if, when it comes to actually placing items into your suitcase, you find that you’re running short on space. When you choose a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes, give the item a “likelihood” rating of between one and 10 - one meaning that you think it’s fairly unlikely you will wear it, and 10 meaning that you definitely will wear it. Any item that receives a five or below can be removed if necessary.
  • As a final option, it’s often possible to reduce the number of clothes you are taking by considering how well they will travel. Synthetic fabrics are far more likely to wrinkle than natural fabrics such as wool or cotton, so remembering this can make it easier to persuade yourself to leave an item at home. 

When you’ve narrowed down your selection, you’ll need to place these items in your suitcase:

  • Shoes, as with many non-clothing items, cannot change shape or be compressed if you find yourself short on space, so it’s best to pack your shoes first and clothes second. 
  • There are two schools of thought on how clothes should be packed. One argues that folding is the most space efficient, while others say that rolling is preferable as it helps to save creases. However, what tends to work best in practice is actually a combination of the two. For thicker items, rolling can actually increase the overall size, so folding may be preferable. For everything else, rolling does tend to help save space and will make it far easier to insert items into packing cubes. 
  • However, as useful as packing cubes can be, it’s helpful to reserve a few garments to be packed on their own. Doing this gives you the opportunity to “squeeze” an individual item in wherever there is space, which is next-to-impossible if everything is arranged in cubes. 
  • Weigh your suitcase when it is half full and then at three-quarters full just to check progress. If you are closing in on your allowance at either of these checks, then reassess the number of shoes you have chosen as a first priority. If you still need to save weight, clothes made from heavier fabrics (such as jeans) are the next best bet. 

When everything has been packed and you’re sure your suitcase is within airline limits, you’re all done! 

In conclusion

By following the above, packing your main suitcase should be relatively straightforward - so all you need to do is prepare your hand luggage, and then you can relax and anticipate all the fun your future holiday will bring. 


  1. These suggestions are so fabulous! This post has definitely inspired me to be more organized and prepared!


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