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How to Fit a Family’s Clothes in One Suitcase

Clothes in one suitcase: it's definitely full!
Photo by: Africa Studio/Fotolia

Knowing what to take and how to make the most of your luggage space can seem daunting especially if you have your family in tow. Below is a fellow traveller’s guide on items to take, how to pack a family’s worth of clothes in one suitcase and other useful baggage related tips.

Choose your suitcase carefully!

Photo by: monticellllo/Fotolia
Photo by: monticellllo/Fotolia

The first and most important decision to make is what suitcase to take. Some suitcases can weigh 3.5KG before you have even put your essentials in! It’s worth considering if you can carry the case from the car to a trolley, before buying a case with wheels.  This may not be such a wheelie good idea as it would add to the weight.

Straps! Yes a bag with tightening straps on the outside is a handy extra, not only on a suitcase but on your hand luggage too, as you can really pack it full.

Colour and design is a personal choice but it’s nice to have a bag that stands out on the luggage reclaim rack.

When you have decided on a large, lightweight and colourful bag it’s time to get packing!

A few things to consider before we start throwing items in;

Will it roll?

Rolling clothes, towels etc. up tightly really can make a difference.  Rolled up clothes take up less room and can be pushed into smaller spaces. Although it’s nice to look like holidaymakers from the movies who all have clothes neatly folded, they would never get that quantity in without rolling. (Unless they have a bag like Mary Poppins, which is unlikely!)

Can it be bought locally?

Toiletries can take up a lot of space but can also be bought locally. Shower gel, toothpaste and shampoo all weigh a lot but can be bought for a small amount of local monies.  It is always worth spending a little more on holiday than a lot more on another suitcase or fee’s for exceeding the weight allowance!

Where are you staying?

If you’ve booked a hotel or full board accommodation, a lot of essentials will be readily available such as soaps, towels and shower items. A lot of places also offer communal washing machines and tumble dryers which means you don’t have to take undies for every day.

Can it be shared?

Are you all trying to pack the same things? Hair dryers, razors, toiletries? Then consider sharing with each other. Of course it’s not recommended to share all items. (Such as toothbrushes!)


Of course having 18 different shirts or shoes may seem essential on a 7 day trip but are you ever going to get round to wearing them? It’s best to be brutal, if you are unsure then don’t bring it!

What can you wear on the flight?

This is one of the most important things to consider. Now I’m not asking you to put all of your clothes on at once and go with an empty case. Although it may give other passengers entertainment, it’s unlikely to be comfortable or practical.

Let’s say you are going somewhere hot and you are leaving from the notoriously cold and damp shores of the UK. You do not want to waste an opportunity to take your coat, jumper, shirt, jeans, vest and smart shoes by going as a ‘typical’ holidaymaker and traveling in a floral shirt with sandals and socks! You want to wear your heaviest clothing! Even if it’s the height of summer at your destination you always take a coat and jumper just in case, but not in the case! And let’s be honest it’s probably going to be raining when you come home!

Remember most airlines will allow you a 10KG hand luggage bag and a small hand bag / man bag

Packing a Lot of Clothes in One Suitcase

Clothes in one suitcase: Rolling clothes works best!
Photo by: tatomm/Fotolia

Yes we have finally made it to the packing stage! So we know to roll items tightly, to share what we can and to consider if they are essential. Now reconsider the chosen items. Are you going on a beach holiday? Will you be wearing your swimming shorts all day every day? If so do you really need another 4 pairs?

Will you really be going out every night to a fancy restaurant where you would wear your fancy frocks? As mentioned before if you get to your location and really need something you can normally just buy it locally.

If you have made your cutbacks, rolled your clothes and find you have space left, don’t fill it!! Now is not the time to put back in the ‘unsure of’ items, to do so is a common mistake. Why? You ask. Simply answered with ‘where are you going to put items you buy on holiday?’

That’s right, people never consider the return journey. While you’re out and about, it’s likely that you’ll buy gifts for people at home to remind them that you’ve been in the sun, while they’ve been stuck at home with the heating on! So make sure you have the space available for when you return!

Below is a list of the very basic essential clothing items for a week’s holiday in the sun;

  • 1 Pair of Sandals/Flip Flops (Smart shoes worn on flight)
  • 4 Pairs of undergarments maximum (not likely to be worn most days if swimming!)
  • 2 Long-sleeved/Short Sleeve smart shirts or 2 nice dresses
  • 2 T-shirts / casual tops
  • 2 pairs of swim wear.
  • 1 pair of smart trousers/bottoms (one pair worn on flight)

Remember most airlines will allow you a 10KG hand luggage bag and a small hand bag / man bag. Using the above guidelines, a party of four adults managed to pack all the items needed for a 14 day holiday into just the hand luggage with 4KG to spare, each!

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