Why Is Packing So Difficult?

by derek on May 18, 2007 · 26 comments


In the next couple of days I will be faced with the challenge of packing a suitcase for a business trip. Maybe it is because I do not travel all that often or because I pack too many pair of underwear but everything usually comes out a wrinkled mess.
Speaking of underwear, why do they call it a pair of underwear when there is only one piece of clothing? I’ll have to leave that mystery for another day as I have a suitcase to prepare.
Fold…Roll…Bundle…Oh My
So what is the best method for packing a suitcase to prevent wrinkling all of your clothes? I thought I would do a little research this evening and it seems every other website that I came across had a different suggestion on how to avoid wrinkles.
One site suggests that you roll all of your clothes in order to avoid creasing the clothes, as the creases result in additional wrinkles by the time you get to your destination. Another site indicates rolling your clothes does not prevent any wrinkles so they suggest you wrap all of your clothes up in one giant bundle with your socks and underwear at the center.
Of course there is the old stand-by method of simply folding everything and dropping it into your suitcase. Both the rolling websites and bundling websites agree that folding is a bad approach but who really knows.

Type of Suitcase
When I do have to travel, I usually end up packing my old-fashioned garment bag as I have found that the easiest for my purposes. Just recently I picked up one of those fancy little bags with the wheels and everything, as I wanted to be one of the *cool kids* and try to stuff my bag into the overhead compartments as opposed to checking my bigger garment bag.
The only problem is that by the time I tried to condense a couple pairs (there is that pair word again) of business casual pants, jeans and a few shirts there wasn’t any room left in this little bag for things like socks and underwear.
I’m a bigger guy so maybe it just isn’t meant to be for me to use this smaller travel bag and I should just stick with the garment bag. The nice thing about the garment bag is that all of my clothes hang inside the garment bag and are then folded over once in half. Usually there aren’t too many wrinkles in the clothes and everything fits.
Crazy Idea
With this upcoming trip, I’ve actually had a really crazy idea that I think might actually work. For the last week or two, I’ve been thinking about buying a few new pair of pants for work as well as a few new shirts.
Naturally, I thought that instead of buying new clothes here at home only to pack them into a suitcase to take on my trip, why not wait and buy the new clothes when I arrive at my destination? I could pack a few *essentials* and not have to worry about much else.
When it is time to come home, I can just stuff everything into the suitcase as I am no longer worried about it being wrinkled. If I were not already contemplating the purchase of new clothes, this wouldn’t be very feasible. However, I’ve been trying to find time to get out shopping for some new clothes anyways so why not take advantage now.
How Do You Do It?
I’ll be the first one to admit that I probably overpack, so maybe lightening the load will make it easier to try and use the smaller travel bag. But when it comes down to it, I have a feeling I will be lugging the garment bag through the airport on my way to Orlando (give me a holler if you are in the Orlando area).
Now I’d like to make a plea to all of you that are more experienced travelers. What methods have you found to be successful with packing for your trips? Do you fold, roll or bundle? What type of bag do you use? Please help me!

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Damien Riley May 18, 2007 at 9:44 pm

When I pack, I try to do it in bits over a long period of time. It gives me a headache. Spaced out, it’s not so bad. Oh, and I just fold.


derek May 18, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Lol, I am just the opposite. I usually wait until the last minute and then throw everything into my bag and away I go.


Stephen May 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Same! I hate packing! If I pack it, I can’t use it. Then I end up overpacking, but I tend to roll everything in my bag so it takes up way less room so its not so bad.


derek May 20, 2007 at 12:54 am

Lol, I am certainly an overpacker. Here it is about 6 hours before I have to leave for the airport and I am just starting to try and squeeze everything in my little travel bag.
It’s not looking good though. One pair of jeans and one pair of shorts and the thing is darn near full. Once I added t-shirts, socks and underwear it was getting really full and I still have to fit khakis and shirts in there.
I’m waiting for some laundry to finish so I can make the final run on trying this small bag before I turn to my garment bag. Ahh, the joys of traveling.


Shopper Ste September 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Spread it out dude. Its the only way to pack, over a few weeks sometimes….Or get someone else to do it, but then you will have to lie at the usual question ‘…did you pack this yourself sir…’ Iv always wandered what they would say if you said no. Let me know please.


Business Consulting May 18, 2007 at 10:10 pm

I think it’s more the worry and fear of forgetting something that makes packing such a chore. As Derek said, I tend to wait until the last minute. It seems to go by quicker even though it probably doesn’t.
I make a list to make sure I don’t forget the essentials, and I try to pack pants and socks that can easily be interchanged to minimize the amount that needs to be packed. If the hotel has a laundry room, it’s easier to pack lighter and wash items for reuse every couple of days if it’s a longer trip.


derek May 19, 2007 at 9:59 am

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. You brought up a good point about the laundry, we will be renting a house so that would give me access to the laundry right there. Maybe I can pack a little lighter knowing that I can wash anything that needs to be washed.


Dave May 19, 2007 at 12:11 am

Packing sucks. Whether it is for a trip or like next week for me for a move. I hate packing. I like being on trips I like being moved but the packing is the worst. And you always forget/lose something. Have a fun trip.


derek May 19, 2007 at 10:01 am

Thanks Dave! I think the only thing that might be worse than packing is unpacking, as that means your trip is over.
Although in the case of your move, unpacking may be a nice relief as that means everything is done. Good luck with your move!


Vince Cordic May 19, 2007 at 4:37 pm

I also hate packing, and usually leave it to the last minute, but it’s the unpacking that I really dislike.
Once I get home I usually let the suitcase sit there for a few days and just take things out if it as I need them. Of course you can only do that for so long, so eventually I unpack everything.


Melanie May 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Having just moved to Australia for 2 years, this was my worst experience EVER in packing!!!! It was so difficult, and I tend to take too much as well, so I basically wanted to take every item of clothing! 🙂 However, I did manage to only take one suitcase!
I pack my shoes first, either on the bottom or around the sides; then the items I think won’t wrinkle, like jeans, or jumpers, then t-shirts, tops. At the very top I put items which are likely to wrinkle, I usually lye them out as flat as possible, over the top of everything else. This normally works okay for me. I find the most difficult item to pack are my husband’s shirts, they usually need be be ironed again after traveling!


Substance Abuse Treatment May 23, 2007 at 1:37 am

Packing is really a hassle. But I believe it all boils down to determining what you really need for your trip. I sometimes end up with a lot of unused stuff in my baggage after my trip and without these item I could have traveled with a small pack only. So i guess it really helps to make sure that all the things that you will be bringing are the stuff that you really need.


derek May 24, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Thanks for the tips everyone. As usual, I did slightly overpack but not by too much. There were 2 tshirts and 2 pair of jeans that were not worn but other than that everything was on.
However, we did have a washing machine and dryer in the house so I could have made by with even less clothing and just done a load of laundry.


Sarah August 17, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Two solutions: Take Downey Wrinkle Reducer on every trip, then who cares how it is tossed in, or Have your wife do all the packing leaving yourself more time to blog about it, lol.(and don’t let Damien fool you into believing he has packed even once in the last 5 years. He would rather where the same outfit three days in a row than pack a bag.)


derek August 17, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Hi Sarah, thanks for stopping by!
You don’t know how seriously I have considered not packing at all and buying some new clothes in the destination city to wear for the trip and then stuff them in a bag to come home. 🙂


Tomas November 18, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Really good packing tips! You can visit http://www.travelidea.biz travel forum for some great tips and suggestions.


Jason November 21, 2007 at 9:39 am

I travel relatively often (at least once a month) so in my case it’s all about experience. I’ve tried different cases (all have wheels – I find it more convenient) and finally I’ve found the right size for me. Ok, that is almost a lie because I didn’t find that suitcase myself, it was a present from a female (no surprise here 🙂 ) friend and it just happened to be a size that takes enough clothes in it and fits even in the smallest trunk of a car.
Each time I take almost the same sets of things and I have a list of stuff I have made for one of my trips which serves me as a checklist for the things I need to pack. So that’s it. My “big secret” is that I do it often enough to do it mechanically, without a lot of thinking, and I travel to the same places so it doesn’t take a lot of wondering “what should I take now”.


BB January 28, 2008 at 7:53 am

I love luggage with wheels, only don’t ever take it to Venice – there are too many bridges and after carrying it up the 10th flight of stairs in awful humidity, it starts to get frustrating. On the subject of creases – I gave up long ago. My best advice is to take a travel iron.


Packaging Uk April 15, 2008 at 1:36 am

Packing for me is defnitely the worst part about the holiday. I’m going away at the end of the week yet I still havn’t sourced a suitcase! As many people have said the decision on what you actually need is such a hard one that putting it off just seems like the easiest option. I think the weather at the destination has a big impact on my packing conerns; will it rain, will it snow, will the sun shine, hopefully the later but I just can’t help worrying about it….9.9 out of 10 times it’s been sunny and those extra jeans & jumpers stayed in the suitcase the whole holiday, packing suck!


Dave March 31, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I found that the best way to pack is to roll your clothes so that they fit easily into your suitcase or luggage backpack. This also keeps your clothes from getting wrinkled.


derek March 31, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I’ve tried rolling, folding, origami, and just about everything else yet my clothes are still wrinkled when I get to my destination. So I have resigned myself to having to iron upon arrival and don’t worry about packing anymore. 🙂


Dave April 9, 2009 at 6:47 pm

I skip the Samsonite Luggage and pack light into a carry on. Then I buy new stuff as needed. Works for me!


Boca Raton Vacation Rentals February 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I roll as much as possible – unpack and hang up right away. This works for me. Enjoyed laughing at everyone’s posts. Keep up the good work.


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