How To Pack a Suitcase Like a Ninja

Updated on October 23, 2018 by Asher Fergusson

12 Suitcase Packing Tips From a Seasoned Traveler

I have been packing suitcases for international trips every few months for the past 10 years. I must have done it hundreds of times by now. I have learned many tricks that save time, headache and ultimately money. If you want to learn how to pack your suitcase like a pro then follow these tips below.

1) Learn to pack your suitcase like a ninja

  • Step 1: Fully open your suitcase on the floor. Make sure there is nothing in the pockets from previous trips.
  • Step 2: Put socks and other small items inside your shoes (such as a Swiss army knife). If needed put plastic bags over your shoes to prevent them dirtying your clothes. Then put them down as the first layer.
  • Step 3: If there are still gaps around your shoes put other socks and underwear around them to complete the first flat layer.
  • Step 4: If you have used the packing cubes explained below then put them in next.
  • Step 5: Place any fragile items (like toiletries) neatly in the middle of the case so that they have maximum padding. Place them such that they won’t bang around.
  • Step 6: Place more rolled clothes around the gaps that may have formed around the packing cubes to secure and stabilize the entire packing job.
  • Step 7: Place a small travel towel over everything to complete the pack.
  • Step 8: Close your suitcase and if needed have someone help you zip it up carefully or gently sit on it to help take the pressure off the zips.

2) Layout all items before packing

Select all the clothes you are going to bring, all the electronics, all the toiletries and valuables and lay them out on your bed or floor. This will help you first see exactly what you’ve got and if it’s all necessary. Less is more. I bring enough clothes for one week. It’s important to not bring too many clothes and remember you can always buy something at your destination if needed.

3) Roll your clothes

Rolling clothes saves mega space and helps fill any gaps you might have. The only problem is that it can lead to your clothes becoming more wrinkled. A good solution I’ve found is to roll the unimportant clothes such as underwear, socks, t-shirts and certain pants like jeans. Then fold the more important clothes such as suits, formal shirts and pants. You can even put those items in the packing cubes described below.

4) Use packing cubes

packing-cubesPacking cubes are fairly new discovery of mine. They are little bags that you put within your suitcase. They really can revolutionize the way your pack your bags. They help with compression without wrinkling your clothes so they’re good for your fancy clothes. The best thing about them though is their ability to organize your suitcase and making it easy to remember where you keep certain items such as toiletries vs electronics or underwear vs t-shirts. See them for yourself here on Amazon.

5) Have at least one change of clothes with you

I always pack a complete extra set of clothes in my carry on suitcase so that if needed I can change. I have had a number of times that my checked bag is either lost or delayed and having a change of clothes was a savior for my comfort.

6) Use compression bags for dirty clothes

compression-bags-for-suitcaseEvery time you get dirty clothes you can put them in compression bags to save space in your luggage. These bags will definitely wrinkle your clothes so it won’t be helpful for clean clothes. The beauty of this strategy is that you can then also clearly know which clothes are clean and which are dirty. There’s nothing worse than not knowing which clothes are clean. View on Amazon ->

7) Use good quality suitcases

I recommend one checked suitcase, one carry on suitcase and one small carry on backpack. Cheap suitcases break. Handles snap, zippers lock and this is never fun. Spending a little more getting higher quality cases makes a big difference. I use this suitcase, this carry on bag and this small backpack.

8) Put heavy items in your carry on

I am always at my weight limit in my checked suitcase which is 50 lbs. In order to be able to fit more in the suitcase you need to find ways to reduce the weight. The obvious way to do this is take out the heaviest things and put them in your wheeled carry on. For me the heaviest things are all my electronics such as computer gear, camera, batteries important documents, note pad, ipod and Kindle. I also bring my heaviest warm sweater and/ or coat.

9) Use straps to take pressure off zippers

packing-strapLast buy not least, use luggage straps. This strap goes over your suitcase to help compress the bag but most importantly to take pressure off the zips while it is being thrown around the airports on and off the planes. One time when I was traveling with a business partner his zipper broke and my suitcase strap is what enabled his bag to get home in one piece without losing any items in the flight. These straps also help you identify your case when you get to baggage claim. Get one on Amazon ->

10) Books are too heavy, use a Kindle instead

Books almost weight as much as rocks. I love to read. The way I overcome the weight issue is to bring all my books in one tiny little device – the Amazon Kindle. This clever little device makes it possible for me to continue the love reading while traveling while not compromising the weight of my suitcases. It has an amazing 3 week battery life and can fit thousands of books. You can even download new books while you’re in random places like outback India!

11) Put plastic wrap under toiletry lids

Toiletries are likely to leak if they are not sealed properly. The first step is to cut a piece of plastic wrap and place it under the lid of the product then screw the lid back on tightly. This will prevent the liquid from spilling out even if the cap pops open. I then wrap the entire bottle in a thin plastics bag followed by placing them each in ziploc bags (see the diagram below).

12) Weigh your suitcase at home

As I mentioned I am always at the capacity of weight limits. In order for me to be exactly on 50 pounds I weigh my luggage at home. If you don’t do this then it can be very unfortunate where you have to throw things away at the airport in front of every body.


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