Because we can’t wiggle our nose and have our wardrobe magically transported to our destination, making the most of the precious space in our suitcase is essential. Fortunately, a new crop of innovative bags and organizers allows us to fold, roll, and squeeze our clothes for maximum space-efficiency, making longer getaways less of a hassle (even for those who haven’t yet mastered the art of how to pack a suitcase).
“When packing for an extended vacation, we recommend making a list of activities that you’ll be doing and packing your most versatile items,” says Jessica Dodson, a packing expert from travel outfitter Eagle Creek. “And if you’re packing for more than one person in the same bag, we recommend using different color organizers to keep clear whose is whose.”
Portable organizers and media pouches tuck gear away tightly into duffels and small rollers, while compression sacks and packing cubes maximize space in your checked bags. The only thing left is the unpacking upon arrival. But hey, at least everything will be neatly folded. Here are seven favorite tools for managing packables like a pro.
1. Packing Cubes by Rule #5
For travelers whose idea of effective packing is throwing undergarments, shoes, and clothing haphazardly into the nearest open suitcase, Rule #5’s clever Packing Cubes
will be game-changers. The four pouches, made of tough polyester fabric, have outside labels and mesh panels so you know what’s inside, and they attach to together with Velcro strips for hanging in your hotel room. The $25 set also includes a pouch for dirty clothes.
2. Everyday Backpack by Peak Design
Standard-size carry-on suitcases have their virtues, but many travelers prefer a sleek, lightweight backpack to a rolling rectangle. Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack
does not disappoint. In a combination of style and organizational design, the pack—which comes in 20L ($260) and 30L ($290) sizes—features origami-inspired dividers that allow for varied configuration and convenient gear stacking. And in the security line, you can easily pull your laptop or tablet out of the padded compartment.
3. Pack-It Specter Garment Folder by Eagle Creek
Business trips that take you halfway around the world usually require work attire like tailored shirts, suits, and dresses, and Eagle Creek’s large Pack-It Specter Garment Folder
can hold up to 15 of these types of garments while minimizing wrinkles. You fold, stack, and then place the included folding board on top. The $45 bag (part of a family of Specter packing organizers) is made of ripstop nylon that’s tough, translucent, and stain-resistant.
4. Ultralight Compression Sack by ZipVac
Extending your getaway by a week is cause for celebration—but fitting an extra week’s worth of clothes in your checked luggage? Not so much. The reusable ZipVac Ultralight Compression Sack
, priced between $5 and $7 for two, maximizes suitcase space by removing air. Pack the bag, close it up, and squeeze air through the one-way valve to reduce packed volume by almost 60 percent—no vacuum required.
5. Stow-N-Go Portable Luggage System by Grand Fusion
Unpacking in a hotel room can be a chore, but the multi-tiered Stow-N-Go Portable Luggage System
eases the task. The $30 contraption, which fits checked bags and standard carry-ons, holds belts, shoes, and folded clothes, and the whole thing pulls out on hooks, useful for creating an impromptu dresser in your hotel room’s closet. There’s even a zippered compartment for dirty laundry.
6. TechAway Travel Roll by Great Useful Stuff
Low-key panic ensues when you misplace your iPhone charger with the battery at 3 percent, or when your passport goes missing with 300 grumpy travelers in line behind you. Great Useful Stuff’s $25 TechAway Travel Roll
is a trifold bag with three zippered mesh compartments to keep everything in its place. The bag secures charging cords, earbuds, travel documents, and even reading glasses.
7. Professional Travel Kit by Will Leather Goods
Toiletries can take up significant space in your bag if they’re not packed efficiently. Will Leather’s Professional Travel Kit
(a definite splurge at $325) features two zippered compartments with internal slip pockets for tucking away important accessories. The black waterproof nylon lining keeps the kit clean, and metal feet on the underside protect the Italian leather from counter spills.>> Next: 13 Stylish Luggage Brands We Love