How to pack a suitcase

  • Packing a suitcase well can help you to avoid excess airline charges for luggage. Our top tips show you how you can carry more for less – and avoid those excess baggage fees.

Follow these guidelines to make the most of your baggage allowance and avoid excess penalties

  1. Pick the right suitcase

    Choose your case with care. To meet regulations for checked-in luggage, a well-packed 24-inch (60cm) suitcase will normally reach the weight limit. So a smaller, but full, suitcase is generally better than a larger, half-empty one. Maximum weight limits per suitcase are usually around 20kg for international flights, but always check your airline’s website.

  2. Label your luggage

    Think about writing your name and contact number or email address in permanent pen inside your suitcase lid – that way your case won’t be lost just because a label fell off. A label on the outside can be tailored for each trip with flight details and destination hotel – you’ll usually want a lost bag sent to your hotel, not home, and advertising your permanent address when you’re going away is a bad idea.

  3. Leave the extra clothes at home

    Lay out the clothes you want to take on a bed. Now’s the time to pare those indulgences and whims down to sensible essentials. If you’re going on holiday for 7 days, do you need 20 outfits? Why not take separates to mix-and-match, with belts and jewellery, for a variety of looks? Even fashionistas can manage with 3 pairs of shoes, coordinating their holiday wardrobe around them.

  4. Roll up your clothes

    Fold items of clothing lengthwise and roll up into neat sausages of different sizes. This minimises creasing and will help you pack without gaps. The exception to the rule is a smart jacket, which should either be laid on top of your packed suitcase just before closing the lid, or carried and hung during the flight – check that this won’t be counted as a piece of hand-luggage though.

  5. Be a double bagger

    It’s a good idea to put toiletries, makeup and spillable items, such as coffee and creamer powder, into zip-up plastic bags or carriers. The baggage hold of an airplane is unpressurised, so liquids such as nail polish remover could expand and leak. Fill in the spaces and top layer of your packed suitcase with shoes and these odd shapes. When you drop down the suitcase lid it should close easily without you having to sit on top.

  6. Weigh it

    Pop your bag on the bathroom scales to check that your perfectly packed suitcase is under the maximum weight limit, to avoid any nasty surprises at check-in. Be sure to leave yourself a few pounds leeway though if you’re planning on a holiday shopping spree.