You can spot an “over-packer” from a mile away. They’re the ones dragging a bulky suitcase across cobblestones, labouring to pull a giant duffel bag up a flight of hotel stairs or mashing an oversized backpack into the luggage compartment of a full train. They spend time and money to bring all sorts of clothes and belongings they probably won’t need on their trip, and subsequently, their trip suffers.

You don’t have to be the over-packer. With a few straightforward tips and a little self-editing, you can fit everything you need for a weeklong trip (or longer!) into one small suitcase.
Here’s how.

Find the Right Bag

How to Fit a Weeklong Trip into One Small Suitcase

Your bag is the first thing to consider. You can choose a rolling suitcase or duffel-style luggage, provided they are compact and lightweight, but the best option is a backpack. Backpacks are easy to transport and don’t get in the way as you move around a new city.

Look for backpacks around 35 litres or less – a respectable size that easily fits in carry-on compartments. If possible, find one with a clamshell opening for easy access to all your clothing and amenities.

Pack Merino Wool Clothing

Merino wool clothes have been an in-the-know travel hack for quite some time. Merino wool is naturally antibacterial, which means you can wear a garment for days (some people wear theirs for weeks) without any noticeable odour or decline in freshness.

Because of its repeat wear ability, you only really need a couple of articles. Shop for a few merino boxers, a couple of merino wool shirts for men and maybe two or three pairs of merino socks – that’s more than enough merino wool for a weeklong trip. Since clothing often takes up the bulk of one’s luggage, this hack alone will save you lots of space.

Wear Your Heaviest Clothing

Especially when travelling in the winter, packing warm clothes is unavoidable. You need that coat and those layers to stay warm.

But rather than pack all that bulky clothing in your backpack, consider wearing it in transit. View it as your “travel day clothing” that never gets packed in your luggage. Sure, you might feel a little warm moving through the airport in your winter coat, but you can always sling it over your arm if it gets too hot.

Use All Available Space

If you’re bringing a spare pair of shoes, pack your merino wool socks and underwear into the shoes. If you have any spare space left in your toiletry kit, pack your small electronics in there (but be sure to put them in a zip-top bag in case something leaks). And use all of your bag’s available pockets and compartments to store smaller items and articles of clothing.

As a final tip, let’s state the obvious: be ruthless with your editing. Don’t pack something unless you are confident you will use it. Too often, people pack things “just in case” but never end up using or wearing those things. Exercise a little self-control, find the right bag, buy some merino wool travel clothing, wear your heavy items and use all your space.That’s how you avoid becoming an “over-packer.”