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Saving Space: How To Pack Your Bulky Winter Clothing

By Randy Yagi

Your richly deserved winter vacation is just days away and soon you'll have to start packing items you'll need for the trip. But if you're hoping to keep your travel expenses down, will you be able to fit everything into your TSA-approved carry-on and one personal item, such as a laptop case or purse? Despite the necessary clothing you'll have to bring for inclement weather, you'll be surprised just how much you can actually fit in a single piece of luggage and personal item. Here are some tips on how to save space in your travel bag so you can pack all of your bulky winter clothing.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Wear It, Don't Pack It 

The easiest way to make space in your suitcase is to simply wear the bulkiest of your items during your flight. This means you should wear your heaviest winter jacket, heaviest pair of shoes and socks and even possibly a few extra layered pieces of clothing. While it's true it will likely be more difficult and time consuming to get through the airport's security clearance, you won't have to pay a checked baggage fee of $25 or more by traveling with just your one carry-on luggage and personal item. What's more, if you participate in TSA's Pre-Check program, you won't have to take off your shoes, belt, laptop, toiletries and coat or jacket, thus making your screening process far more efficient and far more tolerable. Even if you have to go through the normal screening procedure like the majority of travelers, you can still save yourself and others time through the screening area by removing items beforehand, such as jewelry, a watch and a belt. Once you are able to take your seat on the plane, you can remove heaviest coat or other layers for added comfort during the flight.

Related: How To Get Through Airport Security As Quickly As Possible

Pack Travel Friendly Clothing

Regardless upon the length of the trip, you will have to pack a certain amount of winter clothing. This may include outerwear like raingear, base layers, an insulated mid-layer for frigid conditions and an outer layer. Whatever you need to bring, it's important for you to wear items that can be easily packed and are made from fabrics that are best suited for winter activities. Among the recommended fabrics to bring are wool and familiar synthetic fabrics like polyester (e.g. polar fleece, Polartec), nylon, Spandex (lycra) and Gore-Tex. These types of fabrics are also known as wicking fabrics, which have the ability to remove moisture away from your skin and can dry quickly, which is helpful for maintaining your body heat in chilly weather and for reuse of clothing after laundering. On the other hand, you should avoid items made of cotton, as this type of fabric absorbs moisture, takes much longer to dry and could become damp,while taking heat from your body and potentially result a serious case of hyperthermia. While items like denim and flannel are known for its nice appearance and comfort, both are cotton-based fabrics and are best left at home. One last popular fabric to consider avoiding is down, whether it's made from goose or duck feathers. Although these materials are arguably the best for insulation, both tend to be on the more expensive side and when wet, will provide no insulation.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Rolling Clothes To Save Space

After you've decided what type of clothes and how many items to bring, there are a few methods you can consider to pack your travel-friendly items more efficiently. Among the most common methods is to roll lighter clothing and lay folded or heavier items on top. Moreover, the suggested fabrics to bring all tend to be wrinkle-free, suggesting that all of the clothing will still look great after arriving at your destination. Still, if some clothing items are so stiff and impractical to roll, simply fold each item, then place into your bag atop the rolled items. You can also save more space by inserting rolled pairs of socks into your extra pair of shoes.

Packing Cubes

Another common method of packing clothes favored by many travelers is the use of lightweight packing cubes. Offered by a variety of well-known retailers like Eagle Creek, REI and American Flyer, packing cubes are designed to help organize and compress clothing to save space in your luggage. However, some experienced travelers say it's merely an added cost and even if made of a lightweight material, also adds unnecessary weight and added space in your travel bag. This means if your wish is to pack as lightly as possible, you should forego the use of these types of travel products, regardless of the weight.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Compression Bags

Other travelers may opt for the use of compressible plastic storage bags to help pack clothing. Like packing cubes, compression bags are designed to compress clothing in travel bags and are available from many familiar brands, such as Samsonite and Eagle Creek but also through other popular household brands like SpaceSaver and Ziploc. If you need to compact as much space in your luggage as possible, compression bags are generally thought to be the best option. Additionally, not only are compression bags more affordable than packing cubes, it's also the better choice when traveling in winter-like weather because of the likelihood of transporting bulkier clothing. Some compression bags from Ziploc, SpaceSaver and others come with a small opening and valve for use with a vacuum or hand pump to save as much space as possible. Yet in order to save on travel expenditures, the most affordable option is another product from Ziploc, with a package of two space bags for under $10 and capable of providing up to triple the amount of extra storage space. Regardless of the method you choose, you should just bring what's necessary for your winter trip, such as two pairs of travel-friendly pants and one extra pair of shoes. If more space is necessary to pack everything in a single carry-on, try leaving out toiletries or other incidental items that you can purchase after you arrive at your destination.

Related: Ask An Expert: Planning Your Winter Getaway

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