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How to Pack a Bag Like a Pro: The Student Edition


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Cherin Ng

a top view shot of a luggage filled with clothes, a pink diary, a camera and a pair of shades
Image by Paige Cody on Unsplash

As a student, you probably cherish the opportunity to embark on a new adventure, whether it’s a spring break trip, a study abroad program, or just a weekend getaway. But one thing that may throw a wrench in your excitement is the thought of packing. What are the things to bring? What should you leave behind? How to fit everything into one bag? If you’ve ever found yourself drowning in a sea of clothes and travel essentials the night before a trip, this guide is for you. Here, we’ll uncover the art of packing efficiently, transforming it from a stressful ordeal into a breezy task.

The Basics of Efficient Packing

Efficient packing is akin to solving a puzzle – finding the best way to fit together different pieces to form a complete picture. This means optimizing your luggage space, taking only what you need, and organizing items for easy access. But why is efficient packing so crucial, especially for students?

For one, students are constantly on the move. From traveling home for the holidays to exploring new places during semester breaks, packing, and unpacking can become a frequent activity. Hence, mastering the art of packing efficiently can save you a considerable amount of time and hassle. 


Moreover, traveling light has its perks. It can save you from hefty baggage fees on budget airlines, make commuting more accessible, and reduce the risk of losing items. If you’ve efficiently packed your bag, it’s simpler to find what you need quickly, whether that’s a travel document or a laptop charger when you need to write a paper for class. Efficient packing takes the stress out of the travel process, allowing you to focus more on enjoying the journey and less on managing your belongings.

The Right Luggage

A brown carry on roll luggage outside in the yard

Image by Conver Kit

The first step to packing like a pro is choosing the right luggage. Your bag is your travel companion, and it must suit your travel style, destination, and duration of your trip. For students who prefer freedom of movement and are heading to multiple destinations, backpacks may be the ideal choice. They are versatile, easy to carry, and work well for outdoor adventures. Look for ergonomic designs with various compartments for better organization and weight distribution.


On the other hand, a suitcase can be more suitable for more extended stays or city travel. Rolling suitcases are easy to maneuver in airports or hotels and are kinder to your back. They also offer better protection for delicate items. While hard-shell suitcases are more durable and water-resistant, soft-shell ones tend to be lighter and offer a bit more flexibility in terms of space.


A duffel bag can be the middle ground. It’s more structured than a backpack but offers more flexibility than a suitcase. Duffels are perfect for road trips, short getaways, or as an additional piece of luggage to store items you need easy access to during transit.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to luggage. Evaluate your needs, consider your travel plans, and choose the type of luggage that offers the best convenience and efficiency for you.

What to Pack

The key to packing smartly is bringing versatile items that can serve multiple purposes and be mixed and matched easily. Start with the essentials: underwear, socks, a few comfortable tops and bottoms, a nice outfit for going out, a swimsuit if needed, and pajamas. For shoes, aim to bring a maximum of two pairs that are both comfortable and suitable for different occasions. Remember, your shoes should be sturdy enough for a day of exploration and nice enough for a dinner out.

a man putting his laptop in upright position into is leather hand carry shoulder bagi

Image from Andrew Neel

Now, let’s talk about electronics. Laptops, chargers, cameras, and other tech devices are usually a must-have for students. Protect these items by investing in a good quality protective case and organizing cables and chargers in a small separate bag. 

When packing your clothes and electronics, consider using packing cubes. These small, lightweight bags zip closed and keep your clothes compact and your bag organized. They are a game-changer in the world of packing and a secret weapon to efficient luggage organization.

Pack Toiletries and Medications

When it comes to toiletries, travel-sized items are your best friend. Not only do they save space, but they also comply with airport security regulations if you’re only carrying hand luggage. To prevent any leaks, consider putting them in a ziplock bag or investing in reusable silicone bottles. 

Don’t forget a small first aid kit and any necessary medications. Your health is paramount, so always have the essentials on hand: pain relief, band-aids, any prescription medication, and possibly something for the common cold or stomach issues.

How to Pack Your Bag Efficiently

flat lay shot of an opened luggage with clothes and a toiletry bag. Next to the luggage is a laptop, a pair of shades and a ohotograph

Image by Anete Lusina

Now that you have all your items ready, let’s get packing! Here’s a simple step-by-step guide:

1. Start by placing heavy items like shoes and electronics at the bottom of your bag to maintain balance.

2. Roll your clothes instead of folding them. This not only saves space but also minimizes wrinkles.

3. Use the gaps. Fill your shoes with socks, underwear, or other small items to maximize space.

4. Keep your toiletries and any other liquids in an easily accessible place, especially if you’re flying.

5. Leave a little room for souvenirs or items you might acquire during your travels.

Keep Your Luggage Safe and Secure

Ensuring your belongings’ safety during your travels is equally essential. Luggage locks can provide an additional layer of security, especially in crowded places like airports or train stations. If you’re staying in shared accommodations like hostels, a lockable suitcase or backpack is a must.

Don’t overlook the importance of travel insurance, either. It can provide coverage in case of lost or damaged luggage, saving you from potential losses. 

Another way to keep your belongings secure? Don’t bring unnecessary valuables. For example, if you have academic tasks to attend to during your travels, consider using one of the best paper writing services online rather than bringing your laptop with you.


Packing efficiently may seem daunting, but once you master it, it becomes second nature. Remember, the goal is not just to bring what you need but to pack in a way that makes your life on the road easier. As a student, you have endless opportunities to explore the world. So, embrace these opportunities, pack your bag like a pro, and let your journey broaden your horizons!