wikiHow to Pack Without Overpacking

Many people fall victim to lugging large, heavy bags throughout the airport or train station when they go on a vacation. This "How-To" is the answer to their prayers.


  1. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 1
    Research the average climate and weather for your vacation spot during the month you are visiting.With the weather information you just found in mind, pull the clothes from your closet that are climate appropriate to your destination. Be sure, however, that even if the weather is warm, you still pack a light waterproof jacket in case of rain. Pack layers just in case, but don't stuff your suitcase with coats and mittens if you're going to Florida in August.
  2. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 2
    Get the smallest suitcase possible that will hold the clothes you have set aside and a few other small items. The best would be to use a small roller board or backpack. Hard suitcases, while being protective, are harder to pack well and tend to be much heavier. You can fit more at less weight in a soft shell bag. Make sure it has lots of little pockets for extra space and further organizing.
  3. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 3
    Try to match up just enough outfits for number of days you are going on vacation, if less than a couple of weeks. For a longer trip, be sure to have clothes that mix and match well. Reusing articles of clothing to make new outfits gives you a large variety with a smaller amount of clothing. One way to do this is to have the majority be staple colors such as whites, beige, browns and black. Throw in a few colored or patterned pieces to add variety.
  4. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 4
    The easiest way to have a lot of options is to pack accessories. Shoes are too bulky to carry a lot of, but be sure to have a casual pair and a slightly dressier pair. Remember, you can buy cheap flip flops just about anywhere, and you can throw them out at the airport before coming back home. Women especially can pack things like scarves, belts, and inexpensive jewelry, which will make any outfit unique.
  5. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 5
    Pack the clothes into the suitcase by rolling them. For shirts fold lengthwise before rolling, for pants fold in half lengthwise and then half horizontally. This allows you to fit more into a small suitcase. Be sure to keep clothes that wrinkle easily on the top.
  6. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 6
    Get together your toiletries and tuck them into the corners of the suitcase, or inside shoes. Be sure to wrap all of them in a plastic bag to make sure nothing gets ruined if they spill. Also keep in mind that that most hotels supply shampoo, conditioner and soap, and also most places sell travel size bottles, which help to keep the weight down.
  7. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 7
    Try not to over stuff, but if you find that you cannot fit everything you wanted, close the suitcase and stand it up overnight. The contents will settle and you will be able to fit more into the top by the next morning.
  8. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 8
    If all else fails, just pack as usual, then take half away. You probably will not need most of it, and unless you are trekking into rural or uncivilized areas of the world, you will be able to pick up anything you couldn't pack.
  9. Image titled Pack Without Overpacking Step 9
    If you are really finding it all to hard a relatively cheap vacuum packer might be helpful just put it in the bag and it sucks out all the air leaving it crease free. Alternatively if you don't want to splurge on all that you could just use a vacuum cleaner to suck out the air from your clothes.


  • Try to pack shoes that are neutral colors such as black, brown and white. These shoes will match with more outfits, so you will not have to pack as many shoes which will lighten up the load of the suitcase. If possible, pack shoes that can cross between dressy and casual, such as strappy sandals or leather loafers.
  • Be realistic. You might want to bring along, say, 5 different books, but what are the chances you're going to read them all? Plus, unless you are going somewhere special, the fancy clothes and fully matching outfits will not be needed. They will end up being a burden.
  • Squeeze all the air out of your pack, you'll get a lot more room. Remember, if you stand the bag up for a few hours, or even just close and shake down, you will end up with at least 3-5 extra inches of space in the top. This is a great place for bulky things like make-up cases or shaving kits.
  • Be sure to roll the clothes instead of folding them. The only clothes that may be better folded are collared shirts or stiff pants, which have ironed creases. However, usually those types of clothes are not necessary on a trip, and if they are, it would be much wiser to put them into a garment bag which flight attendants will usually allow you to keep in the cabin closet.
  • Wear your heaviest clothing such as jeans, running shoes/tennis shoes, sweatshirt to save on space. Consider replacing your jeans with light-weight travel pants which take less space and dry quickly.
  • has clothing that is reversible and can be washed out in the bathroom sink and will dry overnight. You may also want to invest in a roller backpack. They are the most efficient for trips where you will be going to many locations, you can wheel them or wear them as a backpack.
  • Fit your stuff to the space, not vice versa. Pick a bag and stick with it, don't change it out for something larger.
  • Usually suitcases/luggage have a zipper right? Well you can also buy some with another zipper next to the opening zipper, and that zipper will make the suitcase/luggage a bit bigger.
  • Make sure to fold or roll up your clothes neatly.


  • If you are packing as a couple or as a family, be sure to keep the amounts as even as possible, so that one person will not have more or less changes of clothing than another. Also if you can share items such as t-shirts, keep that in mind while packing, it will help lessen the load.
  • Be sure to check all zippers before you start packing to make sure that they zip easily, otherwise you will have to unpack everything later and change bags. This also goes for the wheels (if any) or straps.
  • While packing for a vacation to a cold climate, it may be hard to pack all in one small suitcase because the clothes are bulkier. A larger suitcase may be necessary.
  • Remember to make sure that anything liquid or even anything that could melt is wrapped in plastic so that spills will not ruin everything else in your bag.

Article Info

Categories: Travel Packing