How to pack everything in one suitcase

June 14, 2019 | Jamie Rowley

Some people have great packing skills. They can fit a tent, a month's worth of clothing, and an entire shoe collection into one teeny tiny carry-on. But most people I know weren't blessed with those packing skills. We all sit there panicking at the last minute trying to figure out how to get our 6 suitcases down to 1 AND under 50 lbs. while still feeling confident that we will look fabulous on our vacation.

After making the crucial error of bringing 3 checked suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases, a backpack, a camera bag, and a purse on my first trip to Europe, also known as my honeymoon, I have perfected my packing skills.

Now I'm a packing pro. 

I can fit two adult and one toddler's belongings into a single carry-on suitcase and a backpack. 

How do I do it? Follow these tips.

Use every square inch of your suitcase

Let no crevice go unused. If you are the ultimate car packer, then you can be the ultimate suitcase packer. Packing is like a puzzle. It takes a little bit of patience to see what fits where. This extra patience may save you an extra suitcase. 

Roll your clothes

Roll your clothes and you'll be able to fit a lot more compared to folding your clothes. I never believed it until I tried it. I thought those travel gurus and flight attendants were crazy. But alas, I was the crazy one for not trying it years ago. If you have the option, don't pack clothes that wrinkle. Pick the fabrics that are easy to roll and pack up. If you don't have a choice, lightly fold those clothing items on top. 

Pack one pair of shoes

No, you don't need 27 pairs of shoes for your trip. I know you want them, but you don't need them. Wear one pair and pack another. Make sure one is comfortable for walking and one can be dressed up, if necessary. Work your outfits around those shoes. This past weekend, my husband and I each wore the same pair of shoes all weekend, which included a dinner event. We're still patting ourselves on the back as we speak.

Buy stuff when you arrive

Why pack shampoo, diapers, baby food, etc. when you can go to a store when you get there and buy whatever you need? Bring only what you need for the plane and any unexpected layovers. Buy the rest when you arrive. Once I realized I had to find milk for my toddler when I arrived anyway, I made a shopping list of other things I could buy, googled the nearest store to our destination, and headed straight there after we picked up our rental car. 

Wash your clothes on your trip

Headed out for long trip, but still want to have one one suitcase? Wash your clothes on your trip. On our last trip to Europe, I purposely booked a place with a washer halfway through our trip. We were then able to pack half the amount of clothing and wash everything there. Worked out perfectly. Worried people will notice you repeated clothing? Unless you're Kate Middleton, no one cares and will never notice. And even she likes to reuse clothing. So you're good.  

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