How to Pack a Suitcase Like Flight Attendants Do

by Lisa Finn ; Updated September 28, 2017

Successful packing equals travel ease.

luggage in hotel room image by Albert Lozano from

Flight attendants travel often and move quickly. They roll carry-on bags filled with strategically packed belongings because traveling with only the necessities is the easiest way to go. Flight attendants know strategies for successfully combining their clothes, jewelry and toiletries all while maximizing suitcase space. With careful planning and the right packing method, you can pack your suitcase so that traveling is stress-free and your belongings remain secure and in the best condition upon arrival.

Consider where you are going and what you will be doing. This information tells you what exactly you'll need and which belongings stay home.

Plan for a wardrobe that is uniform-like, with either solid colors as your base or color-coordinated separates that pair together in different ways. Key garments, such as black pants, or a color scheme, such as brown and cream, will easily tie the entire wardrobe together. Women should consider dresses instead of separates to save space. Choose clothes such as knits, wools and cottons that resist wrinkles.

Decide which three pairs of shoes (maximum) you'll bring and wear your heaviest on the plane. For a cooler destination, wear boots while traveling and pack tennis shoes and dressier shoes in the suitcase.

Combine toiletries in a small kit. Hand, body and face lotions can be combined into an all-purpose moisturizer in order to eliminate three separate items. Store shampoo and conditioner in the same bottle. Women can purchase small compacts of color-coordinated make-up, for example, instead of packing separate items. Consolidate vitamins and pills into one container instead of packing each bottle.

Roll your clothes. Lay out a t-shirt and fold in half vertically. Fold again horizontally and carefully roll the shirt taught until it looks like a paper towel roll. Use this method with each piece of clothing. Fold pants in half and begin rolling from the bottom upward.

Tuck underwear, t-shirts, knitwear, jewelry, sunglasses, electronic chargers, scarves and toiletries into shoes. The inside of a shoe saves suitcase space and provides protection for thin, smaller items. Wrap belts once or twice around garments and fasten as you normally would.

Arrange rolled items in the bottom of the bag to make up the first layer. Find the bottom of a rolling suitcase by holding the bag upright. The bottom is above the wheels. Place shoes next, then add stiffer, folded items toward the top of the suitcase near the handle.


  • Slip socks over coarsely bristled brushes that can snag clothing. Wear precious jewelry while traveling and place others in a plastic pillbox in suitcase.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.