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The Different Ways to Pack Clothes in a Suitcase & How to Pick the Best Method for Your Travel Style!

Posted by Bea Manzano on
Packing cubes best way to pack clothes in a suitcase

For some, the excitement level when traveling can go from 100 to zero real quick when packing enters the picture. Of course not all travelers feel the same way but ultimately, packing won't seem like a chore for anyone if they know the best way to pack clothes in a suitcase. It’s basically knowing how to organize all your clothes in your luggage without getting too many wrinkles or creases on them.

Don’t worry, weary traveler. This will serve as your guide for organizing your clothes in a suitcase to help you pack like a pro. So that perhaps the next time you travel, you will actually look forward to the packing process rather than the traveling itself, because that’s how much of a pro packer you’ll be!

Simple Hacks for Packing Clothes into a Suitcase Conveniently

Organized suitcase using clear packing cubes

**Thanks to Simply Organized for this photo!

Before we get right into packing, we’d like to show you a trick or two for packing your clothes in your suitcase. Just remember these things whether you’re going on an overnight trip or a month-long trip overseas, and these will save your life when packing.

Choose the right clothing items to pack

✔️ Pack wrinkle-resistant clothes. If you’re very particular about the slightest crease or wrinkle, bring clothes that are made from knits, wool, cotton and other versatile material rather than those flimsy, easily-wrinkled ones.

✔️ Bring only what you’ll actually wear. We get it, it’s very easy to overpack especially if you’ve got a very cute closet. . But remember, the key to having a more enjoyable trip is to pack light. Meaning, you can bring a few extras but that’s it.

Packing women's clothes in a turquoise medium cube

✔️ Bring mix-n-match clothing items. Make sure to pack versatile clothes for your trip. That black blouse you know goes with everything is a must.  Choose a jacket or sweater that can be worn with almost every outfit. Don’t bring four jackets for every outfit, that’s just a no-no. 

✔️ Bring EXTRA undies. These are one of the items you wish you brought more of, especially when you run out of clean ones and want to cry. Make sure you bring enough undies for every day of the trip, then add three extra. Although you can wash your undies easily, bringing a few extras won't really take up any space in your luggage. They can be easily rolled into tiny little nothings and tucked away in your luggage, making you feel prepared and ready for anything.

Undergarments rolled beside small packing cube

✔️ Check in with the weather girl. The clothes that you are going to pack will primarily depend on the weather, especially if you're traveling to a different climate. Don’t assume it will be 80 degrees in Hawaii or 30 degrees in Connecticut. Always check the weather for highs and lows for the time you’ll be traveling. You might be surprised and need that extra layer you didn’t think you needed! 

Pro Tip: Dressing in layers is always a good idea no matter what the weather app tells you. 

✔️ Plan special occasion outfits in advance. Are you traveling for a wedding, a family reunion, or a trip with friends? Don’t just wing it. Whatever it is, you better plot ahead and know exactly how many events you need outfits for. Lay them out on your bed (including undergarments, shoes and jewelry) before packing the outfit away.

packing swimsuit, shorts, and other travel essentials in packing cubes

The Perfect Suitcase for Your Travel Essentials

✔️ Decide on either a carry on or checked suitcase.  Deciding this in advance will help you limit your items when packing! We recommend investing in a quality suitcase; one that won't easily get broken or ruined after one trip.

lady with her purse on a hard shell carryon suitcase

✔️ Pack in layers. One great way of saving space and organizing at the same time is to pack your clothes in layers. Make sure  bulky items like jeans and sweaters are packed as the bottom layer. Then pack (or roll) your lighter items, like thin shirts on top of the bottom layer. This way of packing will prevent the rolled clothes from unraveling in transit.

✔️ Fold easily-creased items neatly. Strategize the way you pack by placing delicate or formal items as the top layer of clothes.  This will make it easier to access them when you arrive at your hotel so you can hang them to avoid  wrinkles. To be safe, you can use a dry cleaner bag to help reduce the amount of wrinkles for your formal clothes.

Clothes packed in packing cubes inside suitcase

✔️ Roll clothes that are flimsy. Flimsy clothes, such as t-shirts, undergarments, and leggings, must be rolled tightly to avoid unraveling. Roll each item individually or roll all items together, your choice!  Rolling all your items tightly will make everything more compact and easier to pack, saving you loads of space for other travel goodies!

rolled clothes in a rose cube

✔️ Tuck small items in extra spaces. Loose items like belts, socks, and other smaller items can be squeezed into any available nook or cranny in your suitcase. Don’t waste any space!  Don’t forget about the inside (and outside) zippers on a suitcase which can be helpful spaces for flatter items, such as sandals or airplane documents. 

✔️ Pack according to your baggage weight limit. Before packing, make sure that you check your airline's packing limit so you can pack accordingly and make sure you won't have to pay for extra baggage fees.

Gray starter set in a carryon suitcase

Getting Organized

✔️ Pack the first thing you'll use for your trip on top. Bathing suit and sandals for the pool? Place those necessary “need first” items on the top, so you don’t make a mess of your suitcase when you arrive.  

✔️ Organize your clothes using packing cubes. There are a lot of packing cubes out there, but the best kind are clear so you can easily see what's inside. That way, you can find your favorite black tank right away.

Folded clothes and turquoise clear packing cubes on the floor

✔️ Pack by outfit, category, or individual. These are different ways to pack your clothes. Packing by outfit means you have already planned the outfits you want to wear every day of the trip and group them together. Packing by category means packing clothes according to each type; all pants go together in one cube, the same for shirts, undies, and so on. Packing by individual is common for families with a shared suitcase. It means to pack each individual’s clothes separately in their own packing cubes for a more organized luggage. Brian gets the blue cubes, Shelly gets the lilac cubes, and so on. 

✔️ Bring a travel laundry bag for your dirty clothes.  Life is good when your dirty clothes are separated from your clean ones. Coming home and dumping your ‘dirty pile’ laundry bag into the washer is now a piece of cake. Throw the laundry bag right in with others!

Folded laundry on packing cubes

**Thanks to Zina for this photo!

5 Different Ways to Pack Your Clothes in a Suitcase

Organizing your suitcase doesn’t have to be a temper tantrum every time, we promise. Choose from these five easy-to-follow steps so you can start packing like a pro. Let’s get packing.

Rolling clothes for travel

1. Rolling Technique. This is the best way to maximize space and minimize wrinkles. Roll your items super tight so they become really small and compact. You can stack your rolled items on top of one another to create a ‘pyramid of rolled clothes.’ Finding what you’re looking for is easy now, especially with a clear packing cube.

Best for: Travelers who want to save space and find their items quickly in their suitcase. They don’t  mind a few wrinkles here and there.

Folded clothes and clear packing cubes on the floor

2. Folding Technique. This way of packing is great for bulky clothing items since they're quite difficult to roll. Jeans, sweaters, and other bigger clothes, especially with thick fabric, should be folded when packed. It's quick, easy and the most basic way to pack but it's not necessarily space-efficient. Folding your clothes and packing them in cubes will make it easier for you to unpack at your destination; you can move them easily from the luggage to the drawer easily.

Best for: Travelers who want a faster and easier way of packing their clothes.

clothes, pants, packing cubes, suitcase laid out on the floor

**Thanks to Kevin for this photo!

3. Bundle Technique. This way of packing is great for those who are packing quite a lot for a longer trip. This technique is done by carefully wrapping each item of clothing around a central core. Underwear and tshirts are placed at the center, while larger items such as blazers and dresses serve as the outer layer. If you don’t mind your clothes getting creases and wrinkles, this is the best method to pack them. You can do this by layering them strategically in a bunch and fold them into one big wrinkle-free, origami-like package. 

Best for: Travelers who don't want wrinkles in their clothes and are patient enough to go through the entire process of bundle packing.

4. Compression Packs. These are great for storing bulky items on your trip. These are also called space bags because they let you triple your storage space by sucking the air out of the bag. You’ll place your clothes inside and roll out the bag to get the air out without even using a vacuum.

Best for: Travelers who want to save space and fit more items in their suitcase.

Pink and blue starter set packing cubes

**Thanks to Claire for this photo!

5. Packing Cubes. The best way to pack and keep your travel essentials organized inside your luggage is by using packing cubes. These usually come in different colors and sizes that you can use to categorize and color-code your clothes.  For instance, a turquoise cube for pants, a pink cube for blouses, and a gray cube for socks and undies, and so on. The best thing about this is that you can actually combine the different methods of packing using packing cubes. You can roll your clothes, fold them, or bundle them up into the packing cubes. That way, you can save space, prevent wrinkles, and organize your clothes for travel on-the-go!

Best for: Travelers who want to keep their items organized throughout their trips. Great for families traveling with kids.

How to Pack Clothes in a Suitcase

Woman packing clothes into suitcase using packing cubes

**Thanks to Aimee for this photo!

Now that you’ve got some sweet tips on all the different ways to pack your clothes in a suitcase, we’ll show you how to pack them step by step with this simple guide. Get a shirt ready for you to practice on and let’s get started!


t-shirts and a small cube on the floor

**Thanks to Kevin for this photo!

Step 1 - Fold the bottom of the shirt inside out about 2.5-3 inches up.

Step 2 - Smooth out the wrinkles and fold the sleeves in.

Step 3 - Fold it a little over halfway, then fold the other side over so that it folds evenly into thirds.

Step 4 - Spin around and roll up tightly.

Step 5 - Pullover the part that was folded in the first step, so the shirt will not unravel.

Step 6 - Add elastics if you want to be sure it will not come loose.


Folded pants in a clear packing cube

Step 1 -Fold the waist of the pants inside out like the t-shirt but go an inch or two longer.

Step 2 - Fold the pant legs over each other but leave a small gap near the zipper.

Step 3 - Roll tightly up from the bottom of the legs.

Step 4 - Pull the folded bit over to prevent it from unraveling.

Step 5 - Add elastics if desired.


Rolled socks and an extra small cube

Step 1 - Roll the socks up from the toe.

Step 2 - Pullover the top part to prevent it from unraveling.


Step 1 - Take the hood off if possible and zip up.

Step 2 - Fold the sleeves across diagonally.

Step 3 - Fold the bottom of the jacket inside out a few inches up.

Step 4 - Fold the sides across into equal thirds. 

Step 5 - Spin around and roll up tightly. 

Step 6 - Pull the folded bit over to prevent it from unraveling.

Step 7 - Add elastics if desired.


Folding long sleeved shirt using travel folding board

Step 1 - Fold the sleeves across diagonally.

Step 2 - Fold the bottom of the shirt inside out a few inches up.

Step 3 - Fold the side across into equal thirds.

Step 4 - Spin around and roll up tightly.

Step 5 - Pull the folded bit over to prevent it from unraveling.

Another way to fold a dress shirt / buttoned shirt to make fewer wrinkles:

Step 1 - Flip it upside down and fold the sleeves across diagonally.

Step 2 - Fold up two times

Step 3 - Fold each side across and then flip over.

So, did you get all the steps right? Don’t worry, practice makes perfect. You have all the time and all the shirts, pants and dresses in the world to practice on. Besides, the more you go on trips, the better you’ll be at it! You can
check out this video on how to roll clothes for packing cubes to serve as your visual guide.

To sum everything up, always remember that when traveling, it's important to pack your clothes in an efficient, organized, and smart way. Rolling is for clothes that are lighter , folding is for pants and jackets that are bulky, bundling them up is for longer travels, and packing cubes is for all of the above!

Which way do you think works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

For more tips and hacks on how to pack a suitcase, check out this complete guide for newbies. Happy packing!

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