Perfect Folding: The Secret to Fitting More in Your Carry-On

Perfect folding is the ultimate tool for fitting more stuff in a smaller bag.

 

But what is perfect folding, you ask? Well, it’s exactly what its name implies: a way to fold your clothes perfectly. The more perfectly your clothes are folded, the flatter they lay. This means you can fit more of them in your suitcase.

I first learned to perfect fold when I worked at the GAP in my teens. Gap was meticulous about folding everything just so. Nowadays, this same technique is common across most retailers. You’ve probably seen store associates standing at a table with a plastic board and a pile of shirts and wondered what they were up to. The answer is perfect folding.

While you can purchase a board to help you with the task, it’s not necessary. You could also use a sturdy piece of cardboard cut to the right size. But I prefer to fly solo. After a few practice attempts, you should be able to as well. Follow these five easy steps for a perfect folding experience every time.

Step 1

Lay your shirt face down on a solid surface. Be sure it’s flat, and smooth out any wrinkles.

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Step 2

Fold back the right arm. Make sure to include at least 1 or 2 inches of shoulder as well.

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Step 3

Fold back the left arm and shoulder in the same manner.

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Step 4

Flip up the bottom 5 or 6 inches of the shirttail.

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Step 5

Fold in half.

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And voila! You can apply this technique to all types of shirts and dresses.

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For pants, follow these three steps:

Step 1

Hold the pants by the waist and fold them in half vertically.

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Step 2

Make sure the crotch seam is pulled out flat, then flip-up the bottom of the pants to about the knee.

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Step 3

Fold in half.

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You’ll be shocked how much more you can fit in your bag by simply perfect folding your clothes. On my most recent vacation, I packed an obscene wardrobe selection in my carry-on bag. It included:

  • 3 dresses
  • 4 pants
  • 4 tank tops
  • 2 kimono sweaters
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 4 blouses
  • 1 jumpsuit
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 swimsuit and cover up
  • 4 pairs of shoes
  • 1 hat
  • Multiple necklaces

Let’s not forget all of the underwear, toiletries, hair appliances, and travel pillow I also packed into that small carry-on bag. I’m not saying it was easy to close, but it made it there and back, and I wore every single thing I packed at least once.

Perfect folding is my secret packing weapon. What’s yours? Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

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2 thoughts on “Perfect Folding: The Secret to Fitting More in Your Carry-On

  1. Certainly, folding well helps a lot. However, after everything is said and done, I’ve learned that rolling your clothes like logs actually saves the most space. And surprisingly, my clothes come out mostly unwrinkled. For bulkier items, like towels or jeans, I usually add a rubber band or two to keep them rolled tight. I only travel with a carry-on now — even for two week trips!

    1. Thanks for the tips, Tami! I haven’t had a ton of luck with rolling, but it might be time for me to give it another try. I’ve always had trouble figuring out how to organize the rolls. Do you pile them up? I also travel only with carry on for all of my trips, so I’m always looking for more convenient ways to pack. Have you tried putting your clothes in bags and sucking out the air? That can save a ton of space, too.

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