5 Ways to Pack Efficiently for Your Next Vacation

pack efficiently tip travel

I used to be an overpacker.

Gone now are the days when I would chuck a bunch of pants and a bunch of tops into my suitcase and consider myself packed. I would arrive in my destination with a bunch of mismatched clothing and nothing to wear. I finally gave in and created a system so I could pack efficiently for all my trips. I now swear by this rolling suitcase.

I know it all sounds a little Type A, but after resisting for so long I finally realized to avoid overpacking, you had to plan in advance what you wanted to wear. Trust me. It will feel great to get up and not have to decide anything. Just throw your planned outfit on and get on with your day.

Here are 5 ways to pack efficiently for your next vacation:

travel packing tips

1) Create a Travel Itinerary

I always start by creating a very loose travel itinerary that maps out my day with special events to think about it when planning my outfits. Will you be hiking or walking around the city? Is it cold at night? Do you have a fancy dinner?

Once you map out any major events that requires specific clothing you can start thinking about what you’re going to wear on each day. Here’s what I wear for walking shoes.

packing tips

2) Plan Your Outfits

Take your schedule and start typing in your outfits including footwear. Will your daytime clothing be different from your night clothing? I recently went on a camping trip and needed comfortables clothes and shoes for hiking and then warm, cozy clothing in the evenings.

Make sure you check the weather in your destination for during the day and at night. Pack a good plane outfit (loose clothing) for your travel days.


3) Start Pulling Your Clothing + Shoes

Once you have everything planned out, start pulling your clothing and lay it out on your bed sequentially by day. Is there any clothing you can mix and match or wear twice on your trip? Do you have too many sweaters? Eliminate what you can and try to reduce any heavy footwear.

I usually pack comfortable walking shoes for the day and nicer dress shoes or heels if we have a nice dinner planned. Don’t forget your flip-flops if you plan on hitting the pool.

fjallraven backpacks

4) Roll Your Clothing

I swear by the rolling method and roll all my shirts, pants and dresses for minimal wrinkling. Once I’ve rolled all my clothes and packed them in my suitcase, I then tuck and squeeze my socks, bras and underwear in any empty air pockets that I can find.


5) Forget Just In Case Items

Forget and don’t bother packing any just in case items. You can always purchase an extra t-shirt if you need it at your destination or wash anything using a laundry service if you need to wear it twice. It’s easy to fall into the just in case trap and end up over packing!


Do you have any tips that you swear by to pack efficiently? Share them with me in the comments!

  • Geoffrey F. Norman

    Throughout this entire article, I was picturing George Clooney (a la “Up in the Air”) narrating it.

    That’s a compliment.

  • Great tips! Rolling clothes is the best packing trick ever. It’s a game changer.

  • Excellent tips! I also use the rolling method when I travel, and then organize everything by category and/or family member into packing cubes. Those are so helpful when we are traveling to more than one destination! I also prefer to only travel with carry-on bags, unless we’re going overseas with the whole family, and in those instances I still try (but usually fail) to fit everyone’s into just carry-on bags! 🙂

  • I’m still not the greatest packer but definitely having an itinerary and laying things out then taking them away before packing makes a huge difference! I actually find the biggest challenge to be working out/running while on vacation – because sometimes it means double the daily outfits.

  • Marie-Claude Dessureault

    I used to roll, now I fold KonMari way. I actually started using this method in my drawers so now I just take from the drawer and into the suitcase. This way I immediately see everything I have in the suitcase! It’s fantastic!

    • I couldn’t do all the folding, but I started folding my socks and lining up my bras the KonMari way at home!

  • Discuss100

    1. nothing goes in that cannot be worn at least 2 or 3 ways, pack lightest..wear heaviest shoes, take laundry soap if mini wash can be done (or laundry onboard ships), light weight, layer (as needed), lay out on spare room bed before it goes in case, use bathroom weight scale to ensure under weight, allow room for home gifts, do not pack outer pouches,take as little as possible which will wrinkles, pack corners first, sweaters must double as jackets,no lrg liquids,soks in bras, pack in shoes,alt tops order,carryon as much as possible 🙂

    • Oh those are some good tips. Yes, when I have to bring boots – I wear them on the plane whenever possible.