30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 23: How to Pack a Suitcase

Day 23: How to Pack a Suitcase

Welcome to Day 23 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

You’ve gone through the whole shebang so far this month – yes, the packing list prep, the paring down, the multipurpose items and so forth – and now it’s time to finally put it all together into your suitcase.

As all packing lists and trips vary, so will this section, but there are some tips that we think all suitcase packers should know:

1. Keep the items at an equal height and dispersed across the entire area of the suitcase. This will better ensure that your items don’t slide and move about during transit. If you can’t fit your items tightly across the area of your suitcase then the suitcase is too big.

2. Don’t pack extremely heavy items at one end of the suitcase. Instead, place heavier items in the middle with something soft and sturdy at the bottom end of the suitcase (when it is being pulled). This ensures your suitcase doesn’t become top-heavy or get drawn to one end when being tossed around the baggage carousel.

3. Never pack breakable and valuable items in your checked suitcases! When a suitcase is out of your sight, you have no real guarantee it will end up with you at your destination. You also have no control over how the bag is treated in transit.

4. Don’t overfill. Filling a suitcase too full can put stress on the zippers and often leads to luggage explosions when tossed around the baggage claim section.

How to Pack a Suitcase

When packing your suitcase, it is always wise to compartmentalize your belongings so no loose bits are floating around. This also helps organization and repacking time.

How to Pack a Suitcase, example 1

Let’s Pack ANOTHER Suitcase

Let’s see that example with another pair of shoes! YES, another!

How to Pack a Suitcase, example 2

You CAN Pack Light

There are a lot of clothes in this suitcase, and that doesn’t even contain the outfit and shoes you are already wearing! With that number of items, you could piece together dozens of different looks.

Our suitcase contained all these clothes.
PLUS, the outfit and shoes you are already wearing! Tell me again that you can’t travel light.

Just how much clothing is that?

1 Jacket
1 Black Quick-drying Pants
1 Pair of Capri Pants
1 Leggings
1 Black Pencil Skirt
1 Black Silkbody Dress
1 Dressy Top
1 Light Wool Cardigan
1 Light Summer Cardigan
1 Quick-drying Cute Top
1 3/4 Sleeve Black Top
1 T-shirt
3 Tanks (1 Silkbody)
1 Belt
1 Pashmina
1 Merrell Shoes
1 Tieks
1 Fold-up Flip Flops
Socks, Underwear, Bra

We totally tamed this packing beast.

Further reading: Backpack Alternatives for Female Travelers.

Take Action: Tame Your Suitcase Beast
If you haven’t done so already, downsize your luggage! After going through all the previous posts about compartmentalizing and packing versatile pieces, put it all together into your suitcase. Go ahead, give it a go. You might be surprised at how much you can fit into a smaller bag.

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm producing episodes of The UnPacking List or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Dianne says

    Never pack shoes without having them inside some kind of protective bag. You can buy stretchy sock-like bags or just use any plastic shopping bag. You don’t want your dirty soles messing up the suitcase or your other items.

  2. Jo R. says

    It might sound a bit OCD but consider taking a photo of your packed bag, so you know where everything goes when packing to come home!

  3. Meredith says

    I use shower caps from hotels to put my shoes in. Just the right size and protects the rest of your gear. I save some every time I travel so I can replace them if needed.

    • Brooke says

      It’s an Antler 25 L suitcase/ cabin bag. It’s super tiny but packs in a lot. I love when people look at me like, “What in the world – where’s your stuff?!”

Leave A Reply