Roll or Fold? My Top Travel Packing Tips

Having now visited 106 countries, with a variety of luggage, depending on my length and type of trip, it absolutely matters how you pack. Here are my top 6 packing tips:

    1. Roll your clothes – this helps to keep things neat, easy to organise, and can help to curb wrinkles while traveling. It is also the easiest way to pack more into your bag, whether this is a carry-on, rolling suitcase, or backpack.


    1. Consider weight – the downside to saving space in your luggage, is that, you’ll most likely pack more. Be mindful of the weight that you’ll either have to roll down the street, carry on your back, or lug up the stairs of chic hotels without elevators. I almost always pack twice. Once, a week before my trip. Keeping, an open suitcase, I pack everything in there, even the things that I use on a daily basis. At the end of the week, I take inventory. If I didn’t need to use it during the week, there’s a high chance that I won’t need to use it while traveling either. Always try to take your lightest gear. Can’t decide between two dresses? Choose the one that weighs the least.


    1. What is it made of? – the best way to keep your luggage weight down, and be able to roll your clothes without wrinkles, or static, is to choose your fabrics carefully. Packing things that don’t pill, need ironing, or static guard, can save you stress, hassle, and precious exploration time. Choose clothing that is lightweight, breathable, can adapt to body and environmental temperatures (think merino wool, or a light cotton blend), doesn’t smell, can be handwashed easily (even in a tiny hotel room sink), and can hold up to the wear and tear of daily travels. This applies to non-clothing items as well (blankets, hammocks, camping gear, sports equipment…) – choose reusable products (no one-use plastics) that can stand up to being bumped, scratched, dropped, packed, and repacked.


    1. Choose things that match – try to limit your items to two or three colour themes, so that you can mix and match both your clothing, footwear, and activity gear. Most items can do double duty, and clothing can be layered for extra warmth, so you don’t need to pack additional sweaters, or jackets.


    1. Get creative – look for ways to pack less, by using items for more than one purpose. For example, a thin airline blanket (in a neutral colour) can also act as a towel, beach blanket, rolled up pillow, or light shawl. I also try to not to pack more than 2–3 pairs of footwear. One pair of sandals, one lightweight pair of walking shoes (I love my wool Allbirds), and my FiveFinger shoes are great for trail running, and all my water sports. I carry a “purse” that also doubles as a small backpack, that can easily hold enough for short hiking excursions. Neutral coloured bikini tops, do double duty as bras. Get creative, and minimize your packing.


    1. Suitcase, or not – last, but not least, choose the appropriate luggage for your trip – the last thing you want to be doing is dragging a wheeled suitcase down the unpaved, cobbled streets of a historical destination. Likewise, carrying a large backpack into museums and art galleries, makes for an exhausting vacation. Keep in mind, how long you must carry your luggage, if you will be moving from place to place, who else might be handling your luggage, and if you will have a safe place to store it (ie. will you have a rental with a small trunk, or does it need to fit into a train station locker?). Also look at the types of activities you will be engaging in while traveling. A large rolling suitcase is cumbersome on a dive boat.


Do you roll, or fold? Let me know! Happy packing!


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