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VIDEO: Tips for Packing Like a Pro

No matter where you’re traveling, you could probably use a little more space in your carry-on. Erica Duecy, deputy editor here at Fodor’s, recently appeared on WLNY New York’s Live From the Couch to share essential packing tips for your next trip. Check out our tips below, then click on the video to see the techniques demonstrated.

1. Before you pack, prep with a quick list.

First, jot down what you’ll be doing on the trip, and pair the activities with the clothing items you want to wear. Select items that can do double-duty in a pinch, like skirts that can be dressed up or down. Then review the list, and if there’s anything that can’t be worn more than once, cross it off. The goal is to prevent overpacking, which happens all too often when you start tossing clothes into your suitcase.

2. Fold using the interlock method for fewer wrinkles.

There are many ways to maximize space, even in small carry-ons (the one we use in the video is Muji’s Bellow Pocket 4-Wheel Carry). We recommend layering your clothes using the interlock method; this actually keeps your clothes more wrinkle-free than rolling. Layer "like" items together, laid out flat first in a neat pile, then fold the ends (sleeves, pant legs) neatly around the core. Instead of tight folds, you’ve created cushioning that prevents wrinkles.

3. Layer your garments with dry cleaning bags.

For extra protection against wrinkles, save your dry cleaning bags and place one in between the layers of clothing as you pack. The slipperiness of the plastic allows a little movement in the bag, which prevents wrinkles from setting.  If you don’t have dry cleaning bags, you can also use tissue paper.

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4. Shower caps find new life as shoe covers.

No one wants dirt from their shoes to stain their clothing. Save shower caps from the hotels you stay at (who uses them anyway?) and just slip them over your flats or sandals for an easy shoe cover. Also, always fill larger shoes, like running shoes or boots, with small items like socks so that space isn’t wasted. You can even fit sandals into your running shoes.

5. Organize accessories in mesh bags.

Save yourself from hunting around in the bottom of your suitcase for smaller accessories like belts, scarves, and purses by packing them in see-through divider bags (like these ones from Muji). Organizing them in one place is a space saver, as well.

6. Pack toiletries and chargers in clear bags.

By this point, most travelers know that you can carry on a quart-size plastic bag filled with liquids that are 3.4 oz. or less. If you want a slightly hipper look, go for a toiletry bag like this from Flight 001. Zip-top plastic bags are also great for keeping cords and chargers easily accessible and untangled.

7. Repurpose a pill organizer—and a drinking straw.

Store small items like earrings and rings in a 7-day pill organizer, or a contact lens case, to protect them from getting bent, chipped, or broken. For tangle-free necklaces, you can also thread the chains through a drinking straw and store them in your toiletries bag. Your necklaces will emerge from your suitcase untangled and ready to wear!

8. If you do have to check your bag, weigh it first.

Before leaving the house, make sure your bag is not overweight for the airline you’re flying with (most allow 50 lbs, but some are lower). A portable luggage scale (like this one in the video from Flight 001) costs $30 and pays for itself if it saves you from just one overweight charge, which run $50 and up.

Photo Credit: courtesy of WLNY and Muji

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