How to Pack a Suitcase

by Jamie Wilson
Packing Tips for Long Vacations

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Whether you’re jetting off for a spot of R&R in the Med, or nipping across to Europe for a last-minute city break, knowing what to pack and how to pack it is the crucial first step towards a successful holiday. We’ve put together a guide of the most important things you need to pack so you don’t leave anything behind this year.

Packing can be a nightmare; we all know the feeling of leaving for the airport to be filled with that dreaded feeling that we’ve left something at home. So, to take the panic out of it all – and to avoid you having to ask your mum, girlfriend or sister for help – we’re going to outline the necessary steps to ensure you have everything you could possibly need when going abroad this summer.

Make a Checklist

Before you even unzip your suitcase or weekend bag, make a checklist of what you plan to take to avoid getting to your destination and suddenly realising you forgot the electric toothbrush or universal plug adaptor. It’s worth remembering that you will only need enough stuff to last however long you’re going for – it might sound obvious but overpacking is a common mistake. You also need to consider what the weather will be like. If you’re unsure, check. It’s pretty easy to get a close-to-accurate forecast online.

We suggest you make a checklist of everything you need from the essentials such as plugs, headphones, your iPad etc. to check-listing exactly how many outfits you’ll need. If, for example, you’re going away for four days, you know you will need two travelling outfits (unless you can re-wear one). You’ll need four day outfits and maybe shirts for the evening, and however many pairs of underwear or socks you think you’ll get through (including nightwear). Once you have done this, you will be able to think about what you can wear more than once and then go on to figure what extras you might want to take along before you completely overpack.

The Ultimate Packing List

The Wardrobe

Figuring out what clothes to take on holiday with you can be such a struggle, especially if you’re not too sure what the weather will be like. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this is a summer holiday in question. This means you’ll be packing light clothing, chinos, T-shirts and summer shoes to get you through the week.

T-shirts will probably be the most common item in your baggage for a summer holiday. No guy should go somewhere hot and not have enough T-shirts to get them through each day (plus travel). As well as T-shirts, consider packing polo shirts (good for lunches or for the evenings) and a couple of Oxford shirts for dinners. You could also pack one or two jumpers if you know the temperature is likely to drop considerably during the evening. It’s safe to say that you won’t be needing any coats, so don’t even bother packing these. When it comes to your T-shirt choices, why not mix things up a little. For example, go for a few plain T-shirts as well as a few patterned ones like a Breton striped tee.

Now for the bottoms. On a hot holiday, shorts will be your main priority. Pack enough to get you through the days, and remember you can double up on wearing shorts. You will also need enough pairs of swim shorts. We think two is enough for a holiday. You can always give your swim shorts a wash in the shower with some soap for a quick clean (they’re only going to be covered in seawater or chlorine, anyway). A couple of pairs of chinos will see you through the dinners. Finally, remember to pack enough boxers and socks to see you through the week. We would recommend you do overpack on these – better to be safe than sorry.

Knowing what footwear to pack for a holiday can get a little bit confusing. Only you know how many pairs of shoes you will actually wear, so start with these. You might want to check you have the bare minimum of at least one pair of trainers, some flip flops or sliders and some smart shoes for the evening. The rest is down to you.

You can’t forget to pack your accessories. This includes hats, sunglasses, belts and tote bag to carry your stuff around. Accessories are what completes most outfits, so consider what sunglasses will go best with what outfit, or what belt colour matches the majority of your shorts or trousers. If you know you are prone to getting a burnt head, make sure you pack enough hats to get you through the week, thinking about colours and styles that are appropriate for each occasion.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Packing The Wash Bag

This is the part of packing where most people forget things. However, what we are always quick to forget is that other countries do, in fact, have toiletries too. And shops, for that matter. So, if you’re at the airport and you’re having a meltdown because you forgot your toothbrush, relax. You can just buy one either at the airport or when you get there.

Nonetheless, here are the things which you should try to remember. Shaving kits can be expensive, especially if you are used to sticking to the same shaving routine with the same products. This means you ought to remember your particular products. Skincare is the same – you don’t want to be breaking your skincare routine whilst on holiday, especially as your skin will be under the external pressures from the weather. Pack your skincare into separate, smaller travel bottles if need be. You can get these at most shops and they’re always pretty cheap. Aftershave is another must-have, especially to keep your signature scent. The last thing you’ll want is to have to re-buy that £100 bottle of aftershave just for a week away.

Deodorant, sun cream and aftersun is good to pack. You can also take soaps shower gels and shampoos, but they’ll most likely have those at the hotel anyway. Don’t forget your hair products and comb/brush either. Bad hair days on holiday are not the one.

Don’t forget insect repellant and perhaps a cream just in case you do get bitten. If you’re going on a plane then all liquids and gels need to be less than 100ml and placed in a see-through zip-close bag.

Packing Like A Pro And Traveling Light

Packing The Rest

It goes without saying that it’s essential you remember all of your important documents. This includes your (and anyone else’s) passport, and travel documents, i.e, your boarding passes, hotel/accommodation reservation confirmation, your driving license or any other form of ID, travel/health insurance documents, your travel wallet, credit cards, and the correct local currency. Without these, you won’t be getting very far.

Finally, remember to pack all your gadgets. Your phone, phone charger, camera, camera charger, memory card, batteries, travel speakers and headphones should all be on that all-important checklist. You don’t want to be missing out on any memories because you left your chargers at home, and you can’t be guaranteed that you’ll be able to find the right ones whilst you’re on holiday, either. Remembering your universal plug adaptors are a must. If you can’t remember what adaptors you need for where, give it a quick google search to find out. We suggest you make sure you have enough adaptors so that you can charge/do multiple things at once.


How to Pack a Suitcase

  • Start by making a checklist so you know you won’t forget anything when it comes to packing.
  • Roll T-shirts, shorts and jumpers and use them to keep your other items in place during transit.
  • Place heavier items like jeans and trousers on the bottom of the case to limit crushing your other clothes
  • Pack footwear in shoe bags and place in the corners of the case to avoid crushing or creasing your clothes.
  • Stuff socks and underwear into shoes to help them retain their shape.
  • Leave items such as shirts, trousers and jackets until the end to ensure they arrive the other side crease-free.
  • For suit jackets, try folding them inside out using tissue paper between the folds to limit excessive creasing.
  • Don’t forget to pack your wash bag and all your travel documents, either.

On That Note

Packing for your holiday can be one of the most stressful things; sometimes you just know that you are destined to leave something behind, no matter how hard you try not to. That’s why we have put together this packing guide with some top tricks to make sure you aren’t filled with that dreaded feeling that you’ve left something at home. By following this guide, you should be able to pack everything you need (with no more and no less) so that you can have a well-deserved, stress-free holiday.

Feature image from Pinterest

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