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What’s Your Packing Strategy?

I’m in the process of moving, and this past week, every ounce of my free time has been poured into packing. But now, sitting on a throne of taped-up boxes and disassembled furniture, I’m wondering how effective my packing methods really are. I’ve got that organizational madness that makes it hard for me to put so much as a spoon in the wrong box, which is great when you’re finally unpacking. On the other hand, I’ve seen friends move entire apartments in garbage bags and fare just as well.

So, in tribute to a week of box-stuffing, laundry-folding, and glassware-wrapping, I’m handing down three different ways to stuff a suitcase:

I’ll call the first method the Laundry Bag Method, although I could just as easily call it the “every single college student ever” moving method. All this “strategy” requires is that you open your battle-bruised suitcase, dig through a laundry pile, and chuck in whatever catches your fancy. There’s no “Oh, maybe I’ll put the socks on the left” or even, “Perhaps I should pack an iron to smooth out this tangled horror.” Nope. It’s the packing strategy that says, “If it smells clean, I’ll take it.” And hey–smelling clean is a pretty good priority, if you ask me.

Wool rolls. (cc) gpwarlow

Taking it a step up is the Swiss Roll Method. I’ve heard it lauded primarily as a space-saving method, although it’s also supposed to prevent your clothes from wrinkling. This method involves rolling every article of clothing into a tight little tube, and then stuffing those cigar-style bundles in rows across the width of the suitcase. With all those cotton dolmas in hand, you may feel a little like a baker lining a tray. But if the method’s claim is true, you’ll be able to stuff more clothing in per square inch. A great idea if you don’t want to vacation at the laundromat.

The Card Deck Method has to be the most common of all. You know–the one where you fold your blouses and your slacks into dull little squares, stack them up like a linen Dagwood, and have your kid sit on the top of the suitcase while you fumble with the zipper. It works, it’s easy, and it’s familiar, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. For instance, grouping like items together (socks with underwear, warm-weather clothes on one side, cool-weather gear on the other) will save you a bunch of muddling around in your suitcase, and it’s always a good idea to bag loose items like nail clippers and q-tips.

I’ve employed all of these methods at least once in the past, and they all have their charms. But I’ll admit–given the time and the energy, I go for surgical suitcase precision every time.

Got your own suitcase packing strategy? Post it in the comments!


Vintage suitcase image (cc) mymollypop. Wool rolls image (cc) gpwarlow.


My name: Kate Beall

How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.

Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.

First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.

View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.

Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.

Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.



With an 8 day business trip followed by an 8 day vacation, in two different foreign countries thousands of miles apart, packing has been on my brain for days.

I’m lucky that I’ll (Airline Gods willing) fly into my home airport and then back out again 6 hours later, I don’t want to leave packing for the vacation until the last minute. 11 days until my departure, I have both suitcases packed, except for makeup.

But for some reason, I still think I could do better. I’ve done the card deck method for the most part, but I also group items together. Underwear and socks always go together in the mesh pocket on the lid of the suitcase, no matter what size. I also always pack some extra ziploc bags, including for longer trips, some of the giant ones. Not only are they great for separating dirty laundry from clean, if you happen to need to do laundry while you’re away, they double as a laundry basket to haul back and forth. And they can be used as a poor man’s space-saver bag too.

I also pack my toiletries in ziplocs, because I’m absolutely paranoid about a mid-flight body wash implosion. With a 6 hour layover between England and the Caribbean, I don’t have time for a mid-flight implosion.


I’m a horrible packer. If my luggage had room for the kitchen sink, I’d toss it in bag.

My best packing strategy for a business trip is bring a bunch of dresses (even for gal like me who hates wearing dresses); it’s a full outfit that takes up less space.

For leisure vacations, I swiss roll and tuck..


Packing in a Swiss Roll Method is a great idea. It is easy to do and easy to find. I am influenced by Card Deck Method. Whenever a go far a vacation i prefer only the necessity things. Comfortable and clothes according to the weather of the place you are visiting. Even i to some thing like tag listing. I put a tag on bag with the things i kept in that, so it is to find what you want.

Green Travel Hub

My wife is a master at packing. She doesn’t even let me touch the suitcase, because my method is to just stuff everything in there and hope it fits. I think she uses a combination of the swiss roll and card deck methods.

Sleep Insomnia

I go for a combination of Card Deck method and practical sense. If I am only staying for a night or two, I just take the bare essentials and dump them all in the bag; plastic bags come in handy.

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