Packing for a trip can be an overwhelming experience. With so much to plan, there are bound to be important things you forget. But packing for a trip doesn’t have to be hectic or stressful with these simple packing tips!

Make a list and gather your items

One of the most important things is to make a list. You want to keep track of what you are packing and write notes about what you plan to use it for. Make a checklist, if convenient! If you’re going on a trip by car, also have a driver’s license, notarized letter from the client, passport, and phone numbers of people on your journey with you.

Fold-down the edges

To pack clothes, fold them using two stacks on top of each other before folding them into your bag. Make sure to leave some space at the top to make it easy for you to pull out clothes if they are hanging by a few threads. Please leave a little room for expansion when packing an item small enough to be stuffed in the bag without folding it.

Start with low-priority items

Decide on the order of importance of the items in your bag. Put your essential things at the beginning of your bag, put your most expendable stuff at the end where you won’t be holding them up to everyone that passes by, then proceed with life’s “must have” items.

Roll clothes

Roll your clothes, so they are easy to fold and pack again if needed. It also makes it easier to grab what you are looking for.

Continue packing

Pack other items in your bag, then take a break. Get some food, go for a walk, find someone to talk to, whatever it takes to collect your thoughts and relax before you start mushing other stuff in there. Make sure you have enough room left if need be! If you have trouble closing the bag or it has bulges, take out some clothes so your belongings will fit nicely without damaging the outside of the pack.

Shake it up.

This is essentially the “Kleenex” test. Use your hands to shake the bag upside down, then right side up, then shake it up again. If your items are loose enough to move around, you might have to worry about moving them to pack them into that tiny bag. In this case, use a plastic bag of some sort over top of the duffel so you can secure items properly and prevent shifting.

Secure the bag

It’s easiest to secure your duffel with a drawstring or some closure that won’t damage the bag’s fabric within a few weeks of use. You can use any tie or strap to secure the top of your bag, but it is essential to tie the bag loosely so nothing compresses the fabric.

How Big Should a Travel Duffel Bag Be?

When choosing a duffel bag, it is essential to ensure it has a main compartment to hold the rest of your stuff, plus a few outside pockets for your smaller items. A sports duffel is an excellent option for those traveling by car or plane. Airlines allow these bags as carry-on luggage as they do not have wheels and rarely check the contents. A zip-top bag that closes securely is also essential. You can take one of these on your trip, and it will allow you to bring back souvenirs and other things you don’t want to lose in your checked baggage. The material will last through several seasons, and you can easily find a cleaner to wash it for you when returning home.

What Are the Best Duffel Bags?

Patagonia Black Hole 55 Duffel Bag

This is a fairly standard, fundamental duffel bag with a couple of extras. First and foremost, it has a U-shaped zipper which means you can fully open the bag, unlike most that zip halfway then stop. It also has an internal pocket for your shoes or dirty or wet clothing and an external pocket on top for smaller items. The best thing about this bag is its versatility. 

Samsonite Luggage Andante Wheeled Rolling Duffel Bag

If you need a bag that will travel over any terrain, then this is the one. It is made from a high-tech material that is extremely strong and water-resistant. It also has a U-shaped zipper which allows you access to the entire bag. Its exterior pocket has a combination lock built in to keep your belongings safe. It rolls easily on its wheels and has retractable handles if not moving it by hand.

Arc’teryx Carrier Duffle 55L Bag

This duffel bag is made from a high-quality, water-resistant material that is light and tough. It has a spacious main compartment, plus a side pocket for your shoes, toothbrush, or any other small item you need handy. It also has a cinch cord that helps secure the top of the bag, so nothing falls out when you are traveling. The shoulder strap is padded and reversible to be worn on either side of your body.

REI Co-op Roadtripper Duffel 100L Bag

This duffle bag can hold up to 120 liters, but it folds down to about 8 liters, making it very portable and packable for travel. It has a large capacity and can hold all of your outdoor gear, clothing, and anything else that you need on the trail. It is made of a durable material that is water repellent and resistant to mildew.

Backcountry All-Around 60L

This duffel bag is made from a lightweight nylon fabric which makes it very strong and durable even when used in extreme conditions. It has a rolled bottom edge to ensure that your items stay bundled nicely when they are packed into the bag. The shoulder strap can be worn either on your left or right shoulder, depending on your personal preference.

Marmot Long Hauler Duffel Bag

This bag has a detachable, padded shoulder strap and a bottle opener for your convenience. It has an expandable internal pocket to store your items, such as wet documents or gloves. It also has a front pocket that you can use to keep your cell phone, keys, charger cord, and other small items handy while you are on the trail.

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Duffel bags come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Follow the above tips for packing a duffel bag, it will help you to make your journey awesome.