Introduction: How to Pack a Suitcase

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This instructable couldn't have come at a better time for me, as I am off to England on Friday. However, I had already actually packed my suitcase - but - being eager to explain how I did it, I tossed everything out of my suitcase onto the bed and started again - just for you!

I tried to pack light, but don't think it worked that well, as I travelling across two seasons. It's warmish now, but will be cold by the beginning of November when I come back to the States..

Step 1: My Secret to Packing a Suitcase

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I must admit I am not the greatest folder up of clothes, etc., that's not my style. Therefore, I have gathered together over the past couple of years some of those little zip up mesh bags that are especially designed to pack your clothes, shoes, and things in. I use these for everything, and fold as best I can - and it works. Everything is kept neat - and unpacking is also made easy. You can buy these individually or in sets, and sometimes pick them up at the thrift store.

Step 2: Pack It In!

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Some of the bags are drawstring bags - and these are very good for shoes. Why do shoes take up so much room!? I am taking three extra pairs.

The staunch walking shoe
The frivolous Sandal
and - the very posh strappy shoe - hey you never know!

Each pair will go in its own drawstring bag, which actually has a picture of a pair of shoes on it!

Step 3: Keep on Sorting and Folding

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Necessary items must be packed, like underwear, socks, nightwear, etc.

I love the way that when I fold everything up (sort of) and shove into the mesh bags, everything gets flattened down without any effort on my part. I love these bags. Some of them have pictures of what you should put inside them - but you can ignore that - unless it suits you.

Step 4: Some Zip Up Plastic Bags Are Excellent

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For transporting your shampoos, creams, toothpaste, etc. in your hold luggage, I recommend placing these items in one of the zip up waterproof bags that you can also buy for packing. Nothing is worse on journey's end to find that liquid has spilled all over your clean clothes.

Step 5: You Will Also Need to Take Medicines, Remedies, Etc. With You

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When going on vacation or a trip, you don't want to have to rush out and spend money on things like aspirin, talcum powder, etc. as they will cost far more "over there" than here, and they really don't take up much room. However, carry essential daily medication in your hand luggage and not in the hold.

Step 6: Other Things You Want to Take

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As I like to knit it is absolutely essential for me to take some yarn, needles and patterns. I just can't imagine not being able to knit! There may be some things you absolutely have to take, so make sure you have room for them.

I am planning to knit a poncho, some scarves and maybe a toy or two (I'll be gone for 5 weeks)

When taking gifts in your luggage, calendars are good as they take up very little room, weigh very little and are entirely flat to pack. Who doesn't like to receive a nice scenic calendar!?

Step 7: Photographs

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I love to take photographs and I will be packing my camera in my hand luggage, but my battery recharger (that fits British electrical outlets) will be in my suitcase. I bought this many years ago in England and it has served me well.

A US battery charger will not plug into a British outlet!

A sewing kit is good too!

Step 8: There's Always Room for the "posh" Frock!

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You have to have a posh frock! Hey with the strappy shoes - you never know!

Step 9: Choose Your Essential Outerwear

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These are my choices

2 pairs of jeans
1 denim skirt
3 turtle neck sweaters
1 all purpose wool tartan skirt
3 long sleeved blouses
2 short sleeved blouses
a couple of t-shirts
1 large zip up cardigan/sweater

All fit nicely into their own individual zip up bags!

Step 10: Don't Forget Halloween!

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I promised I would explain this later!

I will be away for Halloween, so am taking a costume just in case.

Step 11: Now You Have Bagged Everything - Make It Fit!

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Now that you have put everything into its own individual bag, you need to put all the bags into the suitcase! It's a bit like a jig saw puzzle!

Step 12: Will It Close!

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Of course the case will close! You could probably fit a bit more stuff in if you choose. (I may try to put a bit more yarn inside - and the two tea cosies and egg cosy I recently knitted, and.......

Step 13: Don't Forget the Hand Luggage!

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This is my hand luggage. Make sure it is not too large - different airports in differnt countries have different size limit. This is the bag in which I will carry my travel documents, tickets, money, etc. - and of course my camera. I may even have room for a pair of knitting needles and yarn as well as my hand bag! Try not to make this bag too heavy or bulky as it will get in your way when you are on the plane. If you are taking items of jewelry do not pack them in your suitcase, but carry them in the hand luggage.

Last time I came back from London, (November 07) the powers tht be were only allowing one carry on bag per traveler, which included a handbag or briefcase. Luckily I was able to pop my handbag inside my bigger carryon bag - so be warned. This rule did not apply to those persons traveling first class!

Step 14: Finally and Very Important!

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Don't forget, as far as I know they are making you put your liquids in a small see through plastic bag. I got mine from AAA and it supposedly the correct size. In this you put your make up and any small tubes containing creams or liquids.

Don't forget you are not allowed to take any sharp objects on the plane, like needles, scissors, knives, etc. A full list of no no's can be found on the TSA web site. Here's the link

I have just realised if the airline loses my luggage, I've got photos of everything.........


unspokendegree (author)2011-01-04

Great advice. Where can I pick up some of those bags? I've scoured ebay but can find only one listing vaguely similar. Any advice or help would be great.


those are called mesh packing cubes, and you can ones like them by eagle creek, look up there website for were to buy; has them and they come in lots of sizes.

A cheaper option is the ones Rick Steves has for sale on his website rickstevesDOTcom (change the DOT for . but you should know that by now) the Rick Steves cubes come in a set of three and are the cheapest ones I have seen, they are also all mesh, so TSA and Customs dont usually insist on pulling your stuff apart to look through them.

hammer9876 (author)2009-07-02

I learned to take a day's outfit, i.e., shirt, pants, and undergarments, and roll them altogether to pack it. That way you don't have to find the bag of socks, then the stack of pants, then, well, you get the point. I have wondered whether you could take knitting needles on a plane in a carry-on. They are not the list, so I suppose so. I always figured I could do a lot more damage with a knitting needle than I could with a nail file. (Now I am probably on the feds' watch list.) I have always wondered when they are going to start confiscating everyone's pens and pencils....

sgsidekick (author)2009-05-12

I might suggest that, as it is a good idea to carry your electronics on you and not pack them, the same goes for the rechargers. The day I pack away my rechargers is the day the luggage is lost, never to be seen again!

stinkymum (author)2009-03-02

It's a mother's job to feak out her kids. Glad to hear yours is keeping up the good work.

stinkymum (author)2009-03-01

Actually it was nearly two frigging months! Also we women like to have a choice - don't you know that? As for bathing suits, I like to wear a dry one!

teftef (author)2008-10-25

I found a fantastic way to pack at : - A new type of suitcase with a special system that makes the all difference !

gnomedriver (author)2008-10-02

Are we going to see your poncho instructable? Its great to take hobby or interest that is lightweight with you on trips. There are down times when traveling, like waiting for a bus or train or the last hour before bed in a hotel room and a hobby fills that time. I take a short wave radio with me when on the road. I am all fingers and thumbs when it comes knitting. And how was your trip? I get a little envious of people who are going away on a trip.

stinkymum (author)gnomedriver2008-10-06

You may do, but not till I get back to the US after November 4th. I am having a great time at the moment, although the weather is deteriorating!

inquisitive (author)2008-09-28

Lovely, but tuck socks in the shoes to keep shape and use some of that space as well. Greatest discovery on my trip to London was a Safeway grocery store not far from my B & B and it is easier to pick up some of the soap and shampoo there-or at least be adventurous and try some new stuff. Have a great trip!

stinkymum (author)inquisitive2008-09-29

I am in England now! Everything is so expensive, it's unbelieveable - good job I am staying with relatives or I would starve to death!

inquisitive (author)stinkymum2008-09-29

Now that you mention it I lost about 20 something pounds on my 3 weeks in Europe and found my favorite eats were breakfast (even if at times it was loading up on cocoa and brioche), salami, cheese from a tube (euw you say, but tasty), bread, and oh I remember a certain rotisserie chicken and pretzels from the Munchen train station...oh the memories. Too bad I didn't leave all those pounds off...ha. Climb the stairs of St. Paul's Cathedral to the spire for me! Go Girll!

Cabe (author)2008-09-28

I do alot of gigs in foreign (usually hot) lands and I always *ALWAYS* carry spare drawstring bags with those nappy (diaper) deodorisers for the return trip.

I seldom get around to washing those unmentionables and they can get pretty ripe, stuffing them into a drawstring bag keeps my clean cloths from absorbing any of it.

stinkymum (author)Cabe2008-09-29

What a great tip - I shall buy some

UltraViolence (author)2008-09-28

Awesome! I'm going to England for two months, leaving in November. I'm also going to the Dominican republic. So this is great timing, haha! I roll my clothes instead of folding them, also. It can save a lot of space

lordofthedonuts (author)2008-09-28

You're so organized! When I came back from Asia I just dumped everything in my suitcase and it was a 6 week trip. I can't understand how everything fitted! Some thing are better left unexplained...

Plasmana (author)2008-09-23

This is a great instructable! I don't think anybody can beat you!

stinkymum (author)Plasmana2008-09-23

All I need is someone to carry the thing for me! Even with wheels I will have to negotiate a lot of steps and escalators on my trekk from the airport to my final destination!

Plasmana (author)stinkymum2008-09-24

Don't say "final destination" to me...

Burning Questions (author)2008-09-23

This is really great! I've added it to the contest group, but before I can feature it it's got to have a more appropriate intro image. Do you think that you can switch to any one of your more helpful images and then send me a quick message letting me know you've made the change? Thanks, BQ

I switched the first image to a shot of all my clothes lying on the bed in heaps! Thanks for the tip!

jdege (author)2008-09-23

Don't fold your clothes, roll your clothes. They take up less space, and if you do it right, it prevents wrinkles.

codongolev (author)jdege2008-09-23

gah, you beat me to it! I was about to say that. and it saves space, if you roll tight.

About This Instructable




Bio: Born in England many years ago, moved to California in 1980, moved to New York in 1993, became a US citizen. Favourite place to visit ... More »
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