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How do you pack?

Carmel, Indiana
Level Contributor
1,584 posts
10 reviews
16 helpful votes
How do you pack?

My DH and I are going to Italy next September...our first time to Europe and a belated 30th wedding anniversary (will be new empty nesters next fall!) I love clothes and usually have my 30" suitcase at the max of 50 lbs whenever I travel. So...I've been on the Italy forum and have been advised my life is about to change as I know it. I've already come to grips that on my 10 day trip, I will be rewearing my clothing from place to place...so be it!

I also have been told I need to have a smaller suitcase that I can pick up myself easily on and off trains, etc. I don't really think I can get all I need on a carryon..and plan for a backpack to be my carryon anyway. I think I'm going to try a 22" suitcase, but not carry it on. I would like a 24" if possible. The lighter the better (9 lbs or less if I can find one). I have plenty of time to look and have been reading this forum. would like to keep it at $150 or less.

I've read that rolling your clothes gives more room in the suitcase and keep your clothing from wrinkling. Has anyone tried this?

Edited: 30 October 2014, 23:04
138 replies to this topic
r c
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
10,615 posts
1 review
2 helpful votes
1. Re: How do you pack?


since you have time to do some tests i would use that time to do so.

50 lbs? If you can lug that around then fine, but i think you will get tired of that rally fast. You dont have to do anything. Its your $$$, time, body and luggage. Don't expect people to carry/lug it for you.

what you can do is to

1. minimize the clothes you need to bring.

1a. look at mixing/matching colors so you dont need a complete wardrobe.

1b. look at bring muntilples of undies. If you bring 3 paris of pants/shirts bring 6 pair of undies so you dont end with an odd number. Of course you can always do that too. Its your space. you can also wash your undies in the bathroom sink and let them dry overnight. If you're not sure,then again, test this at home. wash them in your sink and squeeze as much water out and then roll it up into a towel and again squeeze as much water out and then let them hang dry. see how long it takes.

2. people won't care if you wear your clothes more than 1x or 2x or 3x.

3. they have washing machines outside of the USA. Plan on using them. you can plan to travel, you can plan to use the wash. No biggie. some laundry places are open past the opening hours of attractions. so use that time to do the wash. Some place will do the wash for you at a price. weight the cost of having them do it vs you spending your time there. you can have them do it while you are sight seeing too. Optimize your time!

4. look at "quick drying" and "light weight" clothes. Denim is nice and comfy, but bulky and takes along time to dry. this will be dependent upon humidity, but if you done know, do this at home. try washing your jeans at home and then hang dry them and see how long they take. Then take another pair and toss them into the dryer and see how iong it takes. Then try some quick drying clothes and do the same test.

5. Look at the dual function type pants where you can zip off the legs to make shorts. If you dont care for them, then thats okay and you're stuck with what you want to wear then. again, understand the +/- of doing and not doing.

6. other garbage. If you want to bring a laptop, table, phones, tablets, cameras and kitchen sink, try to minimize what you need vs what you want. do you need to bring a laptop and a tablet? Or can you do with one or the other or maybe just your phones?

7. Shoes. Id bring 2 COMFORTABLE pair of shoes. Theres a lot of cobblestone in use outside of the USA. some places use pavers a lot. Depends on where you will go. Expect to do a lot of walking AND standing in lines.

8. Wear your bulky stuff onboard the plane. It won't make a big difference but it will maximize the space in your luggage. If you bring a jacket/coat, wear that onboard too. If you have a compressible jacket/coat, you can try to get it into you luggage.

9. Rolling up your clothes. this is up to you. i dont take others peoples word for anything, i will try a lot of various methods. You can do the same since not everyone wears/packs and brings the same clothes. You can get stuff sacks or packing cubes to try if you care to. My medium weight jacket that i bring on all of my travels i can roll it up and stuff it into a small 5 Liter stuff sack. It can go smaller so i will be making a custom stuff sack for it. btw, that jacket is waterproof, wind proof, breathable and has a built in hood. No need to bring a umbrella. I also have and bring a packable rain jacket. that rain jacket is waterproof, wind proof and has a built in hood and will pack into its own pocket. Even though it has almost the same function as my jacket it dent keep me warm and it doesnt take-up a lot of space - about the size of a baseball.

10. toiletries. I buy my toothpaste once i arrive. No need to deal with bringing it out during the TSA screening. also, once I'm about to leave to go home, i leave it there. no need to again, deal with the TSA.

once you figure out what you want and buy, try doing a packing dry runs. layout your clothes you want to bring and try packing them into your luggage. See how rolling or not or folding them affects packing. You're worried about wrinkles? well, guess what, you're going to have them. Its life and its traveling. you can try rolling your clothes and see how bad they wrinkle. try both folding and rolling and leave them that way overnight. Chances are you won't be leaving your clothes that way for that long, but its worse case. Then unpack and see how they look and then do what give you the minimum wrinkles.

try using google and search for luggage/travel stores in your neck of the woods. note that there are 2 'standard" of luggage. if you get the smaller of the 2, you will have a better chance of bring it as a carry on. If you dont care if its a carry on or check in, then get the larger.

also note that some small puddle jumpers will have different standards and may require you to check ANY luggage in or anything other than more than 1st carry on.

others will give you their best/fav brand/type and such so i will leave that for others to say.

good luck.

Edited: 31 October 2014, 00:41
England, United...
Destination Expert
for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
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36,316 posts
111 reviews
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2. Re: How do you pack?

LuLu I started my travels with 3 large cases. I wore very little that I'd packed and got heartily sick of dealing with the things.

With a little imagination you can achieve a lot in a small space. Dresses for the evening, find the lightest weight floaty ones. Strappy sandals (be sure they have non slip soles) as light weight as you can. Also the new fibres used in outdoor wear (hiking shops etc) now fit beautifully, lightweight and quick dry. Loads of colours. Walking sandals too to deal with the cobbles and rough pavements are very trendy and comfortable not to mention unbeliveably light. Check some out.

Find a cheap lightweight hair dryier. Buy small travel bottles of creams and cleansers. If you have special ones you can't do without, decant them into small travel bottles you can buy at the pharmacy.

I've gone from those 3 cases to one 22" and pack the whole range at under 15lbs.

I do now roll my clothes and they do crease less. Also that way they pack round the outside protecting any fragile items. I buy lightweight thin socks, knickers etc.

You obviously love shopping, now is your chance to look at everything afresh and design a style. Do leave space in your case and weight leeway as you will probably be coming home with some extra Italian clothes. They do a great line in shoes ;-)

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
19,743 posts
2 reviews
9 helpful votes
3. Re: How do you pack?

You say you love clothes...

1.) Fit everything you need into your carry-on luggage.

2.) Bring the 24" empty then fill it up with clothes over the course of your trip. You're in Italy! You'll find stuff on every street corner that you'll NEVER find in Indiana!

Have fun shopping.



Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
16,943 posts
4. Re: How do you pack?

I agree with Martian24!

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
48,194 posts
855 reviews
491 helpful votes
5. Re: How do you pack?

Nobody will really care how you dress. My suitcase for a month is usually about 12-13kg and most of it is not clothes. Ok, you may say that I am a guy but my girlfriend brings even less.

Before packing, lay all your clothes on the bed. hen take half of them back into the drawers. You'll still have too much.

Carmel, Indiana
Level Contributor
1,584 posts
10 reviews
16 helpful votes
6. Re: How do you pack?

Thanks for all the suggestions. Within the states I do travel with the heavy load, but that's because I'm not lugging it in or off iof trains, etc. by myself. I don't plan on doing it overseas. I like the idea of a dry run, so will do that. My clothes don't winkle terribly when laid flat, I just read that rolling them up gives you so much more room and the added benefit of less wrinkling...just wanted to know if anyone has done that and if it works. Sounds like it does.

Love all the suggestions about light weights clothes and thankfully I've already started mentally preparing. Being towards the end of summer, it shouldn't be an issue. Actually you know what weighs the most for me when I travel...all the accessories...jewelry, shampoo, hair dryer, etc. I've been reading leave most the jewelry and wear scarfs...or just take very light weight cheap stuff...just a few...and I know not to bring the nice stuff.

Sue...15 lbs..that's what I would like to do...but my realistic goal is 20...but I need to find a good light suitcase. I like the idea of bringing on a carrion too..but don't want to be pulling around two cases..that's wht I'll have the backpack..

Thanks for ll the suggestions.

Edited: 31 October 2014, 15:06
Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Scottsdale
Level Contributor
1,226 posts
1,338 reviews
772 helpful votes
7. Re: How do you pack?

I must say these weights and sizes are very high to me personally for this kind of trip...

I would say that 12-15kg for a trip of 10 days would suffice. But that is just my taste.

To answer your question, YES. I roll my clothes. It does help eliminate wrinkles (In my opinion) and it allowed for more room for additional items. With that being said, more room = more stuff = more weight.

Like previous posters have stated, only you know what you can do with the money you have! Enjoy.

Isle Of Wight
Destination Expert
for Isle of Wight, Sitges
Level Contributor
5,077 posts
288 reviews
176 helpful votes
8. Re: How do you pack?

I agree with #3,4 & 5

With careful choosing of mix and match clothes, it is very easy to travel for 6-7 weeks with just hand luggage. Just take minimal toiletries for the flight and first day, anything else you can buy locally.

99% of hotels and B&Bs will provide a hairdrier, so you can cross that off your packing list as well. jewelry wise, I personally just take what I wear every day.

Edited: 31 October 2014, 20:11
Manila, Philippines
7 posts
9. Re: How do you pack?

Have you tried using packing cubes/folders? I have been using Dot&Dot travel accessories in my recent travels. I roll my clothes and put them into the cubes. The clothes are slightly compressed into the cube so I'm able to place more and they don't unravel. I get to organize my clothes too in each cube. Business/Dressy clothes, I pack in the packing folder. Both accessories minimize wrinkles.

Aubrey, Texas
Level Contributor
10,789 posts
204 reviews
316 helpful votes
10. Re: How do you pack?

Here's a packing light list for women


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