The Best Way To Pack a Suitcase + How to Prevent Wrinkled Clothes

Nick and I are off on an adventure! As we speak, we are boarding a plane heading to…. Drum roll please… Curaçao! For those who don’t know about Curaçao, this Dutch-Caribbean island is part of the A-B-C islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) located just above Venezuela. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs and perfectly pastel buildings.

Why Curaçao ? To be honest, we selected the A-B-C islands because they are known for being hurricane free. This cluster of islands is farther south than other popular Caribbean destinations that typically reside in the hurricane belt. We knew we would be taking our main vacation in October, and didn’t want to take any tropical storm chances. Once I saw the colorful city and crystal clear waters, I was instantly sold.

I pride myself on being an avid traveler. Before I could walk, my parents had me on a plane jet setting around the country. Little did they know they were creating a travel bug! As more adventures came and went, I began mastering the skill of packing a suitcase, carry-on bag or backpack – whatever space that trip allowed – all the while still overpacking and bringing more than enough clothing options.

Everyone by now has heard the great roll vs. fold debate. Do you save more space folding or rolling your clothes, and what’s more conducive for preventing wrinkles? Personally, I think it should be a mix of both methods, depending on fabric and type of clothes. The type of bag you use also determines what method you should use. If packing a backpack or small carry-on purse, I only use the roll method. When packing for a week or longer vacation, here’s my step by step packing tips:

  1. Determine the clothes you need to pack and lay them all out. I typically take over the guest room or bedroom floor laying out different outfit ideas for dinner, for excursions, sightseeing trips etc. As I mentioned, I am an overpacking so not only am I packing for every possible “outing” that I assume we will do during our trip, I am also trying to pack for the possible weather elements we may face.
  2. Roll soft clothes. My definition of soft clothes includes t-shirts, shorts, skirts, athletic clothes and camisoles/blouses. To get the best roll, fold your clothes in half, tucking in shirt sleeves, and start rolling tightly until compact. Place rolled clothes in the bottom of suitcase.
  3. Fold dresses, jeans, pants and collared shirts. I typically fold the stiffer clothes such as dresses, jeans, men’s slacks and shorts, and women’s pants and stack them on one side of the suitcase. Folding these items prevents damage to applique, collars and helps keep items crisp.
  4. Separate undergarments and swim suits. If your suitcase doesn’t come with an attached mesh compartment, purchase a separate mesh compartment and place on top. This keeps your undergarments together, and also acts as a great laundry bag for coming home.
  5. Don’t forget your shoes. I put smaller, flatter shoes such as sandals and ballet flats in the outside pocket of the suitcase, and put wedges, heels, boat shoes etc, inside the suitcase to avoid crushing. As a rule of thumb, I always wear my sneakers on the plane. Plus they are super comfortable cruising around the airport.
  6. Invest in a hanging organizer for toiletries. I used to throw all our toiletries and products into a gallon Ziploc bag and threw it in the suitcase. Investing in a hanging organizer is a literal game changer for so many reasons. 1) It lays flatter than an overfilled plastic bag and can slide into the large mesh inside pocket of your suitcase. 2) It keeps all your products contained once at your destination rather than strewn across the bathroom sink. Plus, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown out the plastic bag living me SOL. They’re worth it, plus they make you feel more “adult.” Side note: If there’s room for your makeup in the hanging organizer, great! That’s usually not the case for me so I have a separate make-up bag for my foundations, bronzers, nail polish etc.
  7. Time to accessorize. Remember those outfits I laid out in Step 1? All of those pieces were accessorized with fun earrings, statement necklaces and bracelets. I typically keep the cloth jewelry bags that stores give you when purchasing your accessories. I also typically tuck this bag into any remaining crevice or pocket in the suitcase, or I throw it in my carry-on bag for safe keeping.

If those tricks don’t keep your clothes fresh and wrinkle free, throw a portable steamer in your suitcase. I use the URPOWER Handheld Garment Steamer from Amazon. Not only is it compact and packed in a velvet bag, this steamer is simple to use and delivers great results on the road. I typically bring a small bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser to help remove set in wrinkles, but also freshen up the smell of clothes.

With these hacks, you’ll never need to use the dirty hotel iron and ironing board again. Good riddance!

Stay tuned for more packing tips and tricks to share, such as how to pack a week’s worth of clothes into a backpack and the best ways to organize your carry-on bag. For now, I’m heading to paradise with my perfectly packed suitcase for some much needed R&R.

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