Pack Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks to Make Your Suitcase Feel Like Home


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With a summer of possibility ahead of us, I thought I’d share my best packing tips for all your weekend getaways. Now you may be wondering, what makes me credible to write this post? Well, up until five years ago, I packed for all of my trips in one of those tiny Barbie children’s suitcases with just one main compartment. I would pack for two-week long trips in that tiny thing, so I have acquired quite a few tips and tricks over the years. Hopefully you can get as much use out of them as I have!

Also, I took these pictures as I packed for a trip a few weeks ago, so this is all completely authentic. 🙂 Let’s begin!

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Gather. First step: gather all the stuff you want to take, including shoes, accessories, and carry-ons such as snacks. Do this first so you don’t forget anything and so you can gage how hard it will be to fit everything into your suitcase. Lay out all of your outfits, and I recommend either writing them down or taking pictures of each one so you don’t forget what you had planned. Plus, this can be super helpful once you get to your destination and can’t decide what to wear each day or what outfit would work best for your activities. Also make sure to TRY ON your outfits before packing. I know it’s a pain, but there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to realize your clothes don’t fit, they have holes in them, or they don’t match quite like you had imagined.

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Random side note: Does anyone else think it’s weird that bloggers put their shoes just on the ground of their rooms or on their beds? Gross! Shoes are so dirty. That’s why I put a towel down, even if it’s not picture perfect. 😉

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Travel Day Attire. Decide what you’re going to wear on the day that you actually travel because this usually involves wearing the bulkiest items you have to pack. Think coats, boots, and pants. Usually packing is easier in the summer though since clothes are made of thinner materials and there is less of them. I chose to wear these black sandals because they take up a lot of space and would not do well if they were squished. When picking your outfit, also consider comfort and the chilliness on planes, of course!

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Roll, Baby, Roll. Over the years, I’ve tried many different methods of folding clothing and have decided that rolling works best. Generally I try to roll whole outfits together. This way, when I arrive at my destination, I can just grab one bundle and be set for the day instead of having to search to find a matching outfit. Things to avoid rolling: thick pants (because rolling causes them to take up more space), towels, jackets, and anything with large embellishments/sequins that could get ruined. These you can just fold normally and place on the top of everything right before you zip your suitcase.

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Start Packing! Now that you have your rolls, it’s time to start placing them. This is a strategic process. 😉 You want to place the biggest and shortest rolls first in one corner, like I did on the right. Then as you move to the left, pack the thinner, longer rolls. You can generally add 2-3 layers on the side with the tiny rolls, since they’ll take less space than the thick bundles on the right. The reason you want to do this is to maximize the rest of the space you have on the “ground level” for shoes. I’ll explain this further in a second.

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Do the Shoe Shimmy. Place your shoes in old plastic bags (or I have seen people place them in shower caps, which works as well) and start to shimmy them into the tight places! Start with your sturdier shoes, like tennis shoes or booties, since this is the bottom of the suitcase and they might get squished. Since I kept the short, thick rolls of clothing on one side of the suitcase, that made more room for shoes. I put my tennis shoes in that space and then wedged my slippers in the thinner space on the left side. It’s always a good idea to pack slippers since hotel floors are pretty dirty; plus, slippers are cozy!

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Look at how I placed my shoes in the bags. The tennis shoes are stacked on top of each other to fit in the narrow space, and the booties are placed as if they were in a shoe box to keep them flat.

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Deal with the Small Things. Rather than putting socks and underwear in the inside zipper pouch on the lid of the suitcase, stuff them into the open cracks and crevices in the main section instead. This prevents unnecessary bulk in the lid that makes it difficult to close, and it also reserves those zipper pouches on the outside of the lid for other items. Also, I recommend buying a small jewelry holder like mine. I like that it has a space for rings since those always get lost so easily!

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Layer. Add the “top layer” to your suitcase. This includes your other bag of shoes, items such as jackets that you folded normally instead of rolling, and things like flat purses, toiletries, and jewelry containers. Another thing to consider when packing: try to keep the items you’ll need sooner on top. For example, I will most certainly need my toiletries and pajamas the first night I arrive, so I keep those near the top of my suitcase. Bags of shoes, while you may not need them the moment you land, are nice on the top because they are easy to remove so you can access the rest of your suitcase.

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Loose Change. Put any loose, leftover items such as swimsuits, hats, or belts in the zippered compartments on the outside of the lid. Because these are on the outside and not the inside where the space is shared with the main compartment, this makes it much easier to close the suitcase.

Drop It Like It’s Hot. If you get to the end of your suitcase and realize you still have a ton of stuff to fit, don’t fret…yet. Close the suitcase as best you can, and drop it like it’s hot. That’s right, drop it. Let go of it a foot or two off the ground a couple of times onto carpeted floor that won’t be damaged. Why do this? It allows everything to settle into the suitcase, which generally creates a little bit more space on the top. This is my favorite tip. 🙂

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Carry On My Wayward Son. Wait to pack your carry-on last. Actually, I should clarify something. By carry-on, I just mean the smaller bag that you fill with stuff to do on the car ride/flight. I never check bags on planes, so technically both my suitcase and smaller bags are “carry-ons”, but that’s just always what I call my fun bag. So pack your smaller, fun-filled bag last. That way if anything doesn’t fit in your suitcase, you might be able to squeeze it into this bag. I honestly don’t have many tips for packing this kind of bag because I never bring enough stuff to make it difficult to fit everything.

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I usually pack my planner (1), a drawing pad or coloring book (2), my laptop (3), a reading book (4), my travel journal (5), a small bag with chargers and other electronics (6), puzzles (7), sunglasses (8), and my wallet (9). And also snacks, of course. 🙂

Also, this is kind of funny. The first few pictures have a small gold bag, which I originally was going to take as my carry-on. Then when I actually went to pack it, which of course I did last, my planner was one inch too wide to fit. So I had to switch bags to this shoulder bag that was way bigger than I needed. But at least then you know I actually took these photos while I packed! Talk about authentic. 😉

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Don’t forget to pack items such as a lint-brush, a tide stick/stain remover, and a laundry bag (mine was on the inside lid of my suitcase, if you didn’t notice) to really make your suitcase feel like a closet away from home.

Overall in my suitcase, I packed 9 tops, 2 dresses, 2 jackets, 3 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, 1 purse, 3 belts, 1 hat, 4 pairs of shoes, a swimsuit, and a toiletry bag. That’s not nearly as much as I could’ve fit in there, but I thought I’d share the numbers anyway so you get a sense.

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Wow, that was a super long post. If you are still reading, THANK YOU! I hope you will find these tips helpful. Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!


Miles of smiles,



Special thanks to my friend Christine who let me take photos in her cute bedroom!


4 comments on “Pack Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks to Make Your Suitcase Feel Like Home”

  1. I am a terrible packer but constantly working on packing less than I normally do! These tips were great and hopefully I will use them next time i find myself overpacking.

  2. I have two trips coming up in July and I am starting to think that I need to plan out my outfits soon! I have never tried the rolling method, but you’ve convinced me to try it!


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