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Smartest Ways to Pack a Suitcase

Do you have a vacation coming up? Have you been waiting months, or even years, to hit the open road for some much-needed R&R and quality time with your family in the great outdoors? If you love getaways as much as I do, then you're super excited! But one thing I dread about a vacation is the packing! What to bring? What to leave behind? I never know! I stress about it for weeks right up until we toss our bags in the truck and pull out of the driveway with our travel trailer in tow. But over the years I've gotten better at packing not only my own suitcase but my kids' bags as well. With much trial and error, I've come up with the smartest ways to pack a suitcase and I want to share them with you! I hope these space-saving (and sanity saving) tips work for you too!


When beginning the initial phase of packing, lay out all the clothes you think you want to bring along on your camping trip on your bed. Take a good look at what you've chosen, and then put ¾ of it back. Almost everyone always over packs, and when you're traveling with the limited space of an RV (like we do), bringing more than what you need just isn't doable. With the notoriously small storage compartments of a travel trailer or fifth wheel RV, every single item adds up. Typically for a five-day trip, you can get away with five shirts and two pairs of pants, shorts, or skirts. To make traveling with less easier, choose colors that all go together so it's easy to mix and match.

Nobody likes pulling clothes out of their suitcase to see that all of their shirts and pants are wrinkled beyond recognition. To avoid this happening to you, stay away from cotton and linen pieces and opt for wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Wool is great for cold-weather camping. Polyester is a great choice for an affordable, wrinkle-resistant fabric. Knits hold up well and fold easily. And clothes made with spandex resist wrinkling and are comfortable to wear when traveling. If you must bring a favorite piece or two that you know will wrinkle easily, here's a tip: lay them flat inside a plastic dry-cleaning bag and then fold them as you normally would. The plastic will prevent creases from happening.

Once you've picked out your clothes and are ready to load up your suitcase, roll your clothes instead of folding them to save valuable space. You'll be surprised at how much more you can fit inside your suitcase when your clothes are packed this way. If you have a few pieces that can't be rolled due to the thickness of the fabric, fold them and lay them on top of the rolled pieces. Rolled items should be placed in the suitcase first, and then folded items go on top to keep them from wrinkling.

If you're finding that your suitcase is so full that the zipper just doesn't stand a chance of closing, try using a travel compression bag to give yourself some more room. These bags work by sucking out the excess air between items and compressing them down so that they take up less room when stored. You can find them made by Ziploc and Samsonite (as well as others) and can be found in department stores and home goods stores.


Shoes take up a ton of room, but you can't go barefoot in the great outdoors. At least not for your whole trip! At a maximum, bring along three pair of shoes and wear the heaviest pair so you don't have to pack them. Generally a good rule of thumb for camping is a pair of sandals, sneakers, and hiking boots.

You definitely want to bring your favorite sneakers or hiking boots along for camping, but don't subject your clothes to the dirt that's trapped in the tread. To make sure that your suitcase and clothes stay clean when packed tightly next to your shoes, snap an inexpensive shower cap around your shoes (soles down) before packing them. This will especially come in handy when you pack up to come home and your shoes and boots are dirty from all the hiking trails you explored.

Inside your shoes and boots is the perfect place to tuck socks and small toiletry bottles that would take up room elsewhere. An added bonus is that your toiletry bottles will be held tightly in one place instead of possibly rolling around near your clothes and potentially spilling contents inside your suitcase.


A tight suitcase, as well as a small RV bathroom, is no place for full-sized toiletry bottles. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can still bring along your favorite conditioner and makeup without having to tote the mega-sized bottles along. Purchase small empty travel-sized bottles and fill them with your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and hair creams. For liquid makeup like foundation or eye cream, dispense a little into a clean contact case and close tightly.

Worried that your lotion or shampoo might pop open in your suitcase and get all over your clothes? This always seems to happen to me, but with this great tip, never again! Simply unscrew the cap of your product, place a small piece of plastic wrap over the opening, then put the cap back on tightly. Now if the top snaps open, none of the contents will escape! It's heartbreaking to open up an expensive powder foundation and see that it broke into pieces during your travels! To avoid this, place a small cotton ball directly on top of the powder and snap it closed. This works for blush compacts too!

Packing smart will not only save you valuable room inside your RV, but it'll help you avoid living in a messy, cluttered rig on your vacation. If your RV happens to have a washer/dryer unit hookup, like this lovely Mobile Suites 39DBRS3 fifth wheel here at All Seasons RV in Muskegon, MI, you have the added advantage of being able to wash your clothes while camping, meaning lighter packing for you! If you're looking for a new travel trailer or fifth wheel RV for fun outdoor getaways, check out our huge inventory of new and used RVs. Visit us online and enjoy virtual tours, or visit us in West Michigan for friendly, personalized service with a smile!

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