Building a holiday wardrobe worth packing is hard enough, but getting clothes to their destination without them looking like they’ve been through the ringer requires military precision.
Step forward Ivica Tot-Genz; a German army parachute technician turned professional clothes packer at Berlin’s esteemed Hotel de Rome. The world’s foremost expert on how to pack a case properly without resorting to sitting on the top to get the zip round, these are his top tips for ensuring you’re always travelling in style.
Take Your Time
“The key to packing a suitcase perfectly is in the order in which the items are put in. People seem to forget this on their return journey and wonder why their clothes now won’t fit.
“I allot 15 minutes per suitcase each way; it shouldn’t take any longer than that providing you do it logically. Men use the [hotel] packing services 95 per cent of the time because they think it’s impossible, but it’s not that difficult to master – you just need patience, so try not to do it hungover or first thing in the morning.”
“Larger, heavier items should go at the bottom. Slot in shoes and toiletry bags as a base layer, and then fill in any gaps with small items such as underwear. If you don’t have shoe trees in your shoes, fill them with socks to save space and stop footwear from getting crushed.
“Then, pack in reverse order. The first items in are the last ones out so pack what you’re going to need straight away on arrival last.”
“Heading away for business or a wedding? A formal suit requires a bit more attention. Firstly, pop the jacket inside out, stuff the sleeves with rolled up tissue paper (kitchen towel will do) and put it in a dry cleaning bag. Then fold it in half, so the lapels touch, and in half again to compress it tightly, which should minimise creasing in transit.
“If doing this regularly, it may be wise to invest in a wool suit as the tightly twisted fabric is more resistant to creasing.”
Fold or Roll?
“People are fanatical about either folding or rolling, but really, there’s no one way to pack a case correctly as different items need to be packed differently.
“Lay all your items on the bed and get rid of a third of them. The aim is to wear everything you pack, so ditch any duplicates and anything that will wrinkle easily as chances are you’re not going to want to wear something crumpled on arrival anyway.
“In the military, the term is ‘high-speed, low-drag’. Bear this in mind when debating if you really need that extra pair of trainers.”
“Wear your heaviest shoes and biggest jumper on the plane. It’s a no-brainer.
“You can also make the most of the ‘extra handbag’ allowance some flights allow on top of hand luggage – check the dimensions allowed (it usually has to slide under the seat in front). Maximise your usage by keeping electronic devices and chargers in there. This will also come in handy at security.”
Bag It Up
“Duffle bags are great for weekends away, but for holidays you need a structured suitcase. It should be light enough that it won’t infringe on your baggage allowance too much (aim for less than 6lb or 2.7kg), but sturdy enough that the sides will keep clothes from getting battered on the carousel.
“One with compartments is ideal, but if not, invest in some packing cubes to keep items separate on the way out, and to keep dirty and clean items apart on the way home. Of course, buy a toiletry bag that is lined with plastic in case of spills, or all your packing prowess will have gone to waste.”
“While it can be tempting to take everything and the kitchen sink just because it fits, aim to leave at least 15 per cent of the suitcase empty.
“This will leave room for any souvenirs, a margin of error in case you oversleep on the last morning and don’t have time to pack properly and give clothes room to breathe so that creases don’t become set in.”