The Ultimate Packing Guide

Michael Mohr

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

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


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.


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


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.


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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