Duffle bag

11 Tips on Packing a Duffle Bag for Carry-On

Duffle bags are an exceptional choice of carry-on luggage for both long and short-haul flights. They’re durable, flexible and offer plenty of room. So whether you’re going away for a weekend (and want to avoid checking-in bags), or you need a decent sized carry-on for an extended holiday, consider taking a duffle bag on the plane as your carry-on.

By following our tips on the best way to pack a duffle bag, you can maximise space and keep your belongings well-organised.

What duffle bag size do I need?

While duffle bags come in all sizes, a small and portable option is best for carry-on. Before purchasing your duffle bag, be sure it adheres to the size and weight limit set by the airline you’re flying with. It can differ between airlines but the standard weight limit is 7kg, so be careful not to over pack!

How to measure a duffle bag

It can be difficult to accurately measure a duffle bag, given its flexible exterior. To get the most precise reading, measure the duffle bag from its widest points for each dimension. This means accounting for the height of the handle when measuring from top to bottom and any zippers or handles sticking out lengthways.

To ensure your perception is correct, stand directly over the bag for measuring length and place it on a table for accurate height measurement.

Man with duffle bag

11 tips on packing a duffle bag

1. Fold down the edges

Before you start packing, fold down the upper edges of your duffle bag. This will make it easier to reach the bottom of the bag. As you fill the bag, you can fold the edges back up.

2. Start with low-priority items

Your duffle bag should be organised with the items you don’t need at the bottom of the bag. Arrange your high-priority items in an easily accessible position near the zipper to avoid having to rummage through your bag every time you need to find something.

3. Roll your clothes

The rolling method is the best way to pack clothes in a duffle bag to save on space. Roll your clothing in a cylindrical shape when possible and place each item neatly in a row.

Top tip: Fold your shirts, pants and undergarments in half lengthwise, then roll them tightly so they form cylinders. Roll slowly to minimise wrinkling, and secure each item in place with a rubber band.

4. Bundle your clothes

If you’re not a fan of the rolling method, try bundling your clothes instead. Bundling your clothes can help eliminate creases during travel.

To bundle clothes in your duffle bag, fold smaller items of clothing between larger items. The clothes least likely to crease should go on the inside. Continue working outward until you’ve formed a neat bundle.

Video Credit: CheapOair

5. Use Packing Cubes

You can use packing cubes to compartmentalise the interior of your duffle. This system allows you to arrange your toiletries, food and dirty laundry in separate bags. You can keep your duffle bag organised so you won’t need to rummage around the main compartment every time you need something.

Packing cubes are also helpful for grouping similar items together. Instead of searching through your bag to find a particular item, simply locate the appropriate mesh bag. This saves time and preserves the organisation of your duffle.

Remember: Toiletries should always follow the TSA’s guidelines for liquids. Airport staff may confiscate your toiletries if you fail to comply with these guidelines.  

6. Stuff small items inside your shoes

Shoes take up quite a lot of space, so try to utilise them as best you can. Smaller items and lightweight clothing like socks, undergarments, gloves and thin singlets can fit snugly inside a shoe. Not only does this save on space, but it also helps the shoes hold their shape.

In addition to shoes, anything with a hollow shape can be used to store lightweight items.

7. Give it a shake

 Leather duffle bag

Once you’re done packing, jostle the bag. This helps the clothing settle and creates more space for packing.

8. Secure the bag with a TSA lock

Before heading to the airport, secure your duffle with a TSA lock. Designed by the Transportation Security Administration, these locks can protect bags against potential theft but can also be opened by security officials without causing damage, should they need to check the bag’s contents.

9. Pack heavier items first

During your travels, it’s best to carry and store your duffle bag zipper-side up. This is why you should make sure heavier objects are stored at the bottom of the bag. Any lightweight or fragile items are likely to be crushed if stored at the bottom of the duffle compartment.

Follow these simple steps to pack your duffel bag for a flight:

  • Place shoes and other non-delicate flat items at the bottom of the bag
  • Roll all clothing pieces (besides your jacket) and place them compactly on top of shoes
  • Place your jacket over your rolled clothing items and tuck it in around the sides.

By packing the heaviest items at the bottom of your duffle, you’ll create a sturdy base for your bag to rest on.

10. Keep heavy items to a minimum

Duffle bag

Unlike backpacks, duffle bags don’t have much support. To protect your posture, try and keep your bag as light as possible by leaving heavier items behind.

11. Surround your belongings with books or magazines

Everyone needs a bit of content to read while travelling. If you can’t go without books or magazines, pack them in by sliding them along the outside of the duffle, around your packed items. Be careful not to bend or tear the paper. Doing this will form a hard outer shell, making the bag sturdier and better at protecting your belongings.

Knowing how to best pack a duffle bag makes for a smoother journey. Choose a duffle bag from Bags To Go to accompany you on your next journey. With an extensive range of styles, colours and sizes to choose from, you’re certain to find your perfect match.

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