6 In Wardrobe Wellness

Easy Rolling Travel Packing Method

Rolling outfit pieces together.

Rolling outfit pieces together.

In both of my July trips back to Minnesota this summer I changed up my suitcase packing routine. Usually I group like items together and pack them using Eagle Creek packing envelopes. I mean, really, for years that’s what I’ve preached. Pants go in one envelope, tops in another, sports clothes in another–you get the idea. In fact, if you’ve been reading Tips & Teasers for the last few years, you could probably recite all the reasons why I think that’s such a good idea.

But now I’m trying something new. On my visit to be with my best friend from high school who lives in Duluth, Minnesota, I planned my outfits like I usually do using my Travel Wardrobe Workout Chart but this time when it came to packing the suitcase I lined it with my bottoms (2 pairs of jeans, a slim knit pant) and rolled all the top pieces and layered them over the pants.

As I was packing, I knew Patricia had an iron if I needed to press anything so I didn’t fuss over the fabrics. I rolled all the fabrics the same–silk, cotton, linen, and wool. But the secret of not having to iron anything once I got there was probably in what you can’t see in this photo.

What you can’t see:  Most of the prints and solids you see rolled in this suitcase have partners to them. For instance, the oatmeal colored cashmere sweater that is at the bottom of the picture has a sleeveless T-shirt and a linen scarf that I planned to wear with the sweater. So I laid the sweater on my bed, put the t-shirt down the center of it, then layered the scarf, folded the ends in and rolled all three pieces together before putting them in the suitcase.

The black and white spotted silk top (upper right) has a lightweight black cardigan that is rolled with it because I wanted to wear those two pieces together. The black and white silk plaid tunic is pretty sheer and it requires a specific under piece. It’s rolled inside the tunic.

The day I wore the plaid tunic I just pulled out the roll, had everything I needed, and got dressed in less than 30 seconds. That was true of every single one of these rolled/paired garments. I think the extra cushion of rolling the pieces together with their mates made them less likely to wrinkle.

Patricia had warned me about their 45 degree temperatures which were hopefully going to rise during the week I was there. They did so I ended up wearing the cashmere sweater as well as the short sleeved yellow and white striped tee (which, by the way has a wide neck so I layer a specific white cotton tee underneath it).

This packing method felt so efficient when I got to my friend’s house. Had I used the Eagle Creek envelopes I’d have been pulling a top from one, a tee shirt from another, and a pant from another. With this method, I just slipped into my pants for the day, looked at my rolled choices, pulled one out and got dressed in a flash. I may start suggesting this method to my clients.

Will I go back to my old method? Maybe, but for now, this one is just too fun to abandon! Looking into the suitcase like that and pulling out what I wanted to wear is like looking through the glass case at an ice cream store and saying, “I’ll have that one, please.”


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  • Reply
    August 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Great suggestion Brenda…I like it! Going to try this packing mode for myself. Over the years I’ve tried so many different methods, but your suggestion rings my bell. Thanks a bunch,
    A faithful fan,

    • Reply
      Brenda Kinsel
      August 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Please let us know how it goes, Pat! I’m often thinking “why fix it if it’s not broken” but tweaks and tries are fun! Hope you enjoy it in practice!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Douglas
    September 30, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I have been “rolling” for years, Brenda! My job involved a tremendous amount of international travel, and a friend suggested I try this packing method. Needless to say, I never looked back – and I’m predicting you won’t either. Trust me, it changes your packing life!

    • Reply
      Brenda Kinsel
      September 30, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Fascinating! And do you roll things together or one at a time? I would roll at least three things together. I await your expert answer!

  • Reply
    October 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I will try this one, but here is my fave that all my kids have used since I no longer pack for them. Try it…it’s a winner. I travelled overseas for years and lived out of a suitcase in humid and dry conditions. This just works for all.

    1. Lay out pants folded with crotch out on one side. Layer several pairs if you have them. Put waist ends at either end if you have more than one pair.

    2. Next fold skirts in half and lay them parallel to pants centering them on the pile. Ask lay scarves on here making as few folds as possible.

    3 Fold jackets or Blazers folding them lengthwise with back seam inside and sleeves pressed carefully linear on top and bottom of jacket. This ends up looking like a half jacket on the pile…don’t button any buttons. Put these over the skirts and pants centering them and having them parallel to pants.

    4. Use a folding board ( I carry a thin clipboard) fold shirts by buttoning the top and third buttons then laying them face down, put the board in the center back just below the collar. Fold one side to middle, then fold its sleeve back on itself. Hand pass out any wrinkled areas. Follow with second sleeve. Next gently fold the tail end and sleeves up to meet the collar. Set aside and repeat with shirts, blouses such as silk and lighter less stiff shirts and sweaters making a pile of each type.

    5. Gently pile the sweaters first, the stiffer shirts next and the silkies last with all facing up and the same length at top and bottom. Basically you will have a rectangular pile.

    6. Place this shirt rectangle perpendicular to the pant/skirt pile directly in the middle.

    7. Starting with the top piece on the pant skirt pile,lay it over your shirts and tuck it below the shirt pile on the opposite side. Follow with the other side of this garment. Continue to alternate left and right until you have a neat, but rather tight rectangular pile.

    8. For a larger bag I use two of these piles. For carryon, only one. You can now pack shoes stuffed with hoes, undies or sox around the bundle.

    9. When I get to location I can lift the bundles out and lay them on the bed to just take out one or two pieces or hang all up if I am staying longer. I have even made outfit bundles and stacked them, but for wrinkle free, the bigger the bundles, the better as you are using the wrap to support the clothes and keep them from shifting.

    It sounds difficult, but it is very easy once you get the hang of it…just takes a lot of description.
    Happy travel!

    • Reply
      Brenda Kinsel
      October 6, 2014 at 10:16 am

      I know exactly what you’re talking about. I have used this method as well. I hope readers will consider it! Thanks for sharing!!!

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