THE WISDOM OF CROWDS

The Ultimate Packing Guide

From essential space savers to wrinkle-fighting tricks, Budget Travel readers—worthy competitors, all—share their top tips.

One plus about rolling clothes? It will create a flat surface in your suitcase (thanks to finalist Inga Carmack for pointing that out!). Once the first layer is in, it's time to start adding the other items (Michael Mohr)

When we launched the World's Best Packer contest in May, we expected a healthy response. But the entries were even more creative than we'd anticipated. From slide shows to videos to a Frost-inspired ode titled "The Suitcase Not Taken," each was full of smart advice for better-loaded bags. We assembled our favorite suggestions to create this handy manual. —JD Rinne

TOP LAYER

All-weather items like a poncho and a hat go on top, in case you need them right away. In a pinch, the poncho can also help protect your suitcase from rain. —Andrew Doukas, Portland, Maine

Bring a deck of cards for entertainment on the road. Winner Larry Swingen opts for Mini Uno.

Toss in a collapsible, lightweight bag to fill with souvenirs or laundry. —Velma Greene, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

MIDDLE LAYER

Use your shoes as packing cubes: Stuff them with small items like socks or even a travel alarm clock. —Ilana Berner, Caesarea, Israel

Save space by choosing a good-looking jewelry pouch that can pass for a purse. —Phebe Schwartz, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

BOTTOM LAYER

Position heavy items near the wheels of your suitcase to keep the bag from toppling over when it's upright. —Ivana Rix, Vienna, Va.

Rolled clothes are less likely to wrinkle, and they create a flat surface for layering everything else. —Inga Carmack, Port Orchard, Wash.

Double-duty items are key. Bring pants that zip off into shorts, a sarong (for use as a beach towel, scarf, skirt, or cover-up), or a little black dress that can be toned up or down. —Amy Zimmer, Murrells Inlet, S.C.

MEET OUR WINNER!

Larry Swingen of Malta, Mont., took first place in our contest for the World's Best Packer with more than 17,000 votes. He and his wife, Barb, walked away with a six-night trip to Egypt, courtesy of Foreign Independent Tours, and a six-piece set of American Tourister luggage. Congratulations, Larry!

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YOUR BEST TIPS IN ACTION

BT staffers JD Rinne and Nicholas DeRenzo put your tips to the test. See how they did in our slide show.

Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com


Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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