Instructables

How to Pack a Suitcase

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This is my instructable for packing a suitcase. I used to be terrible at packing, but after a number of trips under my belt, I have learned some useful tricks of the trade - some even MacGuyver-esque tricks.

Traveling can be made a lot easier if you know how to pack. The first time I went on a seven week trip, I packed a suitcase that weighed over 85 pounds  and that didnt include my backpack. I soon learned better methods on how to pack  and as a general rule, just know that less is better.

Check out my steps and see if they can help you out.
 
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Step 1: Step One - Make a list...and check it twice

Don't just run straight for the closet and start yanking things out - make a list on a sheet of notebook paper or on the computer. Think about the weather, who you will meet, what you may need and what you can easily get there when you arrive. This will save you time and frustration.

On your list -
make list of clothes, meds, toiletries, etc. I actually type mine out so I can be sure to keep a copy on my computer for the next trip.

Don't bring the economy sized shampoo that you have been using for a year - bite the bullet and spend three bucks on travel sized toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Buy more when you get there.

Make two copies of your list when you are finished - and always leave room for adding more or scratching through stuff. Then ask a friend what they think and if they think you are missing something. This may seem a little OCD, but that is okay. The better you pack, the better trip you will have.

Here is a 'pasted-in' copy of a trip I took -

Main Bag

4 pairs pants (2 columbia, 1 slacks, 1 scrubs, 1 lined khaki (at home))
5 tshirts, one scrub top, one sweatshirt, one thick wool shirt, one Columbia shirt, one china shirt
Four boxers/undies
4 pair socks

1 scarf
1 Toboggan
1 polar fleece vest
1 bottle tylenol
1 bottle Centrum Vitamins
1 roll duct tape

3 disposable razors
1 bottle Tony Cacheres seasoning
1 parka

1 Epipen
1 bottle Benadryl
1 bottles 2 oz shampoo 2 H&S
1 bottles .5 oz hand sanitizer Purell
1 stick 2.25 oz deodorant Old Spice
2 tubes 1.4 oz Aquafrest Whitening
bible commentary
bible
pens (felt tip)
camera - dont leave it in another country
barqs
notebook
Bushie2 years ago
With your lead photo', you should have titled this "How NOT to pack your backpack.." !

Well written, by the way.
tmherrin (author)  Bushie2 years ago
thanks for the comment. experience is one of the best teachers but it also kills your back. :)
This is a great 'ible. I know its a couple of years old but who cares! One thing I see you left out is medication. If you have some sort of medication that you can't survive without, DON'T PACK IT!. Put it in your sealable pockets or whatever bag you are going to be carrying with you at all times(kinda goes with the glasses comment). No airline can ever 100% guarantee your bags will make it to your destination at the same time you do. I used to work for an airline and you would not believe the amount of people that insist they need their bags "right now" because of some medication. I can't teleport it here and then next flight won't come in for a while. Then it depends on if that fight has room for extra bags. Anyway, I digress..
Having worked in the travel industry for 30 plus years and the last several at United Airlines having worked the "bag desk" and other positions I really wish to simply tell everyone to NEVER EVER pack your meds in anything always carry them in your purse or something you don't run the risk of having checked at the gate due to a lack of space on board the plane and yes it does happen. Your carry on is great unless that plane has every overhead bin jammed with bags, coats, whatever then the flight crew can and will and btw has every right to take your carry on and checking it though you planned only to have it as carry on. They won't charge you any of those ridiculous fees for checked bags but sometimes (seldom) it happens that there is absolutely no room left so PLEASE never put your meds and the same goes for your valuables as well in your main carry on if there's the slightest chance it could be checked at the gate. Obviously there's the risk of what everyone just assumes is always a "lost" bag when so many times it's a case of someone seeing what they just KNOW is there bag so they grab it and never look at the name tag or anything and I am not kidding when I tell you I spoke with one woman who had grabbed someone else's suitcase and had it for over 10 YEARS before she bothered to call about it! (What is wrong with people?) 
I'm not sure if people realize you are allowed to carry on certain items that do NOT count as carry on...a purse, camera bag, diaper bag...????? So get a huge purse and put your regular purse in it and your meds and valuables and toothbrushes for the trip if it's long or along those lines....FYI.
And please control your temper when you do have to call because your bag didn't arrive when you did just as on here with the 'be nice' policy. The person answering the phone shouldn't have to bear the brunt of your anger especially when that anger is verbal abuse of the innocent person who simply answered your call and is trying to help you. Like the picture here...do not be NEGATIVE! And you really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! I KNOW!

Thank you and hopefully even 1 person reads this and realizes they almost packed those important meds and stopped themselves. Plus the cargo holds are not climate controlled and can break down the components of your medicine making it ineffective or possibly worse. The same reason you never ever store those meds in the so-called "medicine chest" in your bathroom! The humidity alone will break down your medicine!

Thank you again.
Brad as a negative but what's new he's always negative taken 3April 2010.jpg
ElvenChild3 years ago
Umm in step 9 you wrote " made two - that way my pants would fall down" I think what you mean is " made two - that way my pants would not fall down". Excluding that great instructable.
mdiehl3 years ago
This was great, especially since you are hearing from an over-packer! With a special needs child, and some health concerns myself, keeping the meds with us at all times is important. One other suggestion for the airline travel: take advantage of any & all samples! I have multiple little packs of shampoo/conditioner, lotions, even sunscreen, and those mini finger toothbrush wipes. Even snitched a couple extra deodorant pads last time I was at the hospital for a procedure. It's amazing how much of this items will fit in a quart ziplock bag. Enough for a couple of days if necessary. Keep traveling and enjoy yourself.
rclane483 years ago
Good Instructable! The last time I traveled I packed all my clothes into 2 1/2 Gal Zip Lock bags. Once the clothes are in them you can sit on them to burp them and they stay compressed. It worked great but it did make the bags heavier since I could get more stuff into the same space. When you get searched or if you are going after some item that is hidden, you can unpack and repack with ease.
tmherrin (author)  rclane483 years ago
That is a great idea as well - plus it waterproofs everything :). Once I had a bottle of shampoo explode in my suitcase so I have been putting those in ziplocks - I'll have to try your idea out next time I head out.
- thomas h
quattross3 years ago
When last time I've been travelling I took too much food that than I took it back home)))
kkarn4 years ago
Weaving a colored string through the rope might make it look a bit more gussied up. I'll try to make one so you can see what I mean.
that looks like my friends sister on my scout camp out in westpoint NY. I've never seen a 13 year old girl carry so much stuff in my life. When she saw a rat run past, i've never seen a 13 year old girl run so fast with that much stuff
Der Bradly5 years ago
That doesn't look too good for your back...
tmherrin (author)  Der Bradly5 years ago
yeah - as i put in the instructable, i packed way to much. plus too much luggage creates a huge problem in over crowded places like the subway or train station. i learned my lesson (sometimes more than once before it kicks in...).
Since i am incredibly bored i'll vote for it
collard415 years ago
good instructable, well described and detailed. 5*
tmherrin (author)  collard415 years ago
thanks.
nice instructable, are you a missionary?
tmherrin (author)  bowchickabowwow5 years ago
I am an English teacher. I do like to travel and I do dig to read the Bible. Always like to travel with it.
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