Betty Says: Pack Like a Pro

Behold, a standard 22" rollaboard suitcase.

I can pack for any trip, any length of time, in a single rolling carry-on suitcase.

Don’t believe me? I recently packed for a 10-day winter trip for two adults and one child in two rollaboard suitcases. Jeans or pants were worn twice. Everything else was worn once.

How is this possible? Rolling.

I heard about this trick from a flight attendant. She swore that she could pack for any length trip in her rollaboard simply by rolling instead of folding. I was a good packer back then, and a total skeptic when she told me, but the rolling technique was an epiphany.

Let’s backtrack and discuss my trip preparation. The first thing I do, with about a week to go before my departure, is set aside any and all travel items in a laundry basket. This includes everything from clothing to umbrellas to my TSA-approved quart size bag of toiletries. Anything and everything that I can think of goes into this basket to prevent the last-minute scramble. Some items may be weeded out at the last minute, but I’ve found that it’s better to have too much set aside than too little.

Roll the clothes, stuff the socks into your shoes.

When it comes time to do the actual packing, I lay everything out on the bed in day by day outfits to make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything. Then I start to roll.

Tees, tanks and pants roll smoothly and tightly, but what do you do with dressier clothes? Roll them around smaller items, like tees, to prevent creasing. Pack and stack in every available crevice. Stuff your socks into your shoes to maximize space. By the time you’re finished, there won’t be even a millimeter of unused space.

Don't crease the fancy stuff. Roll it around another item.

Can’t fit everything into your carry-on bag? Don’t give the airlines your hard-earned money just to lose, break or otherwise mishandle your luggage. Here’s a better trick: pack everything in a box and ship to your destination via FedEx Ground. This takes up to a week in transit, so it does require some advance planning. But they pick up from your front door and deliver right to your destination. It costs about the same as a checked bag, is infinitely more convenient, and saves you the hassle and delay of waiting at baggage claim.

The finished product. Tightly packed, with little ironing needed.

Do you have any packing tips to share? Let me know in the comments.

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3 Responses

  1. Alyssa says:

    I support this method! I used rolling for the first time on a 10-day trip to Paris and India this summer. I checked my bag, but had enough room in there for clothes, shoes, and toiletries for 10 days, plus enough spare room to fit the MASSIVE amounts of clothing, jewelry, and gifts I bought.

  2. Alisa says:

    It’s startling. You think that clothes would take the same space no matter what, but no….

  3. One tip from our world travels… pack at least one bag containing a change of clothes and basic toiletries for each person in your party. This bag is always the smallest, and always a carry-on. Then if you choose or are forced to check bags, you will have at least one bag with clothes and toiletries for the entire family.

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