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padlock and chain for securing you bagsA poll on the Lonely Planet website asked readers how they pack their bags on big trips. They asked "What do you do with your clothes, fold or roll?". Out of 727 votes, 41% said they fold, 59% roll. It is an age old discussion, and many people swear by their method as being the best, and will stick with it. Rolling and folding are not the only methods either. In this discussion of packing methods, remember that 'less or more', in that taking less luggage often leads to better travel experiences (see the packing guide). The problem is that if we can fit more into our backpacks or suitcases, we are going to take more, even if it is not needed. Maybe you will be able to take a smaller bag utilising the following methods.


Some swear by rolling, saying that it reduces wrinkles and saves space, being particularly effective for bulky items such as knitwear. The trick in rolling is to start very tight and keep rolling tight.


The method is pretty self explanatory. You lay your clothes flat on the bottom of you case and stack the folded clothes on top of each other. Folding is usually considered to be best for minimising wrinkles.

Zip Lock or other bags

Another method is to use a Ziploc bag. You can use the regular supermarket ones or some places sell airtight bags made specifically for space saving packing. You can either fill the bag with your clothes then press out all the air before zipping it up, or some bags you can vacuum the air out. The fold method usually works best with the bags. We also used mesh laundry bags, to stuff the dirty clothes in. It is amazing how much you can stuff into a bag when you want to.

Unusual Shaped Items

Shoes pose a particular problem. You can make the most of the all space, including inside the shoes. I stuff my rolled underwear & socks into my shoes, in a combined rolling and stuffing method.

Packing Order

Packing your clothes into the bag may be easy, but you should also consider how they will be coming out. In order to avoid constantly repacking as you rummage through your clothes, you should lay them in so that the things you plan to wear first are on top. Especially in top-packed backpacks, the clothing and other things that you regularly need should be put in last.

Avoiding Wrinkles

Some people complain that their clothes get wrinkled, both with the rolling and folding method. The easy answer to take wrinkle free clothing, or at least don't worry about walking around with wrinkled clothing. That's what I do. I would think that the fold and zip bags would be best for avoiding wrinkles. There is also a spray bottle called Downy Wrinkle Releaser, which can be effective in reducing wrinkles.

Final Word

As Kenny Rogers says:

"You've got to know when to roll 'em/
Know when to fold 'em/
Know when to walk away and/
Know when to run".


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