Skip to main content

How to pack a suit when you’re traveling light

Here's how to pack a suit when space is an issue when traveling

Avoiding incurring add-on expenses as you pack your best travel outfits into your bag for that last-minute trip is pretty difficult due to the infuriating additional fees that today's airlines charge for both checked and carry-on luggage. Sure, some airlines will let you bring a compact carry-on bag and a so-called "personal item" however, you might find yourself throwing up your hands and wondering what the best way to pack a suit for travel is. 




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Suitcase

  • Suit roller bag

  • Mailing supplies

  • Regular suit bag

It does take a bit of time before you learn how to pack for your travels in a convenient way, maybe even need a helpful guide in order to get you started. Lucky for you, we've gathered the five best ways to take a suit with you on a short trip. Take your pick of the method that works best for you and never have to stress about that part of traveling again.

A person packing their suitcase with dress clothing.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fold it down, pack it away

Assuming you're traveling with carry-on luggage, the kind that will fit into most overhead bins, you're going to be able to pack a suit with relative ease.

Step 1: Fold the suit in half along its back axis so that its shoulders are touching. The trick to making sure it arrives relatively wrinkle-free, however, is to follow the lines of the suit, meaning its seams and sleeves.

Step 2: Fold one-half of the jacket inside out so that the liner is exposed.

Step 3: Make sure both sleeves are smooth and flat and then fold the jacket in half over your forearm. It will now be in a slender, rectangular package ready to be laid down in your bag.

Step 4: Smooth your suit pants, fold them in half, fold them again, then put them on top of the jacket. All done!

Various dress clothes out ready to be packed.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Roll it up

Sure, you could buy a fancy suit roller bag and save yourself some time, but there's really no need for such a specific accessory. But it's easy to roll up your suit for compact, efficient travel without the need for any additional travel luggage. And that's kind of the point here anyway.

Step 1: The secret to the rolling technique is to make sure your suit is folded in half across all its natural seams and with its sleeves as flat as can be.

Step 2: Next, find something roughly tubular around which to roll the suit. Ideally, use a pair of non-dress pants for this, as any garment rolled tightly will wrinkle. Use your best jeans to make the central tube, for example, then carefully roll your suit jacket around them. Follow that with your suit pants.

Step 3: Tuck everything into a t-shirt and secure the bundle with a belt, or just stow it in a bag. This tube of clothing should easily fit in most backpacks.

Man packing suitcase.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Send it in the mail

Strange as it is to believe, it's much cheaper to send a Priority Box via the United States Postal Service than it is to check a bag with most airlines.

Step 1: Plan ahead by about three days and mail your suit to your hotel.

Step 2: Pack it using the same process as outlined in the fold it down method, tuck the suit into a large Priority Box, and send it along for cheaper than what the airline would charge.

A man in a suit listening to music while hauling his luggage in the airport.
Westend61 GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

 Just wear it

If you need to bring a suit along for your travels, one way to keep it in relatively good shape is to just wear the thing while you're on the plane. Change at the airport and shove your casual clothes into a bag, then as soon as you get off your flight, change again, draping your suit over your shoulder on a hanger. Your slacks and blazer will be fine for a few hours on your person without looking soiled, especially if you're just sitting there in your seat.

Man carrying a suit in a cleaning bag.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Use a traditional suit bag

Packing a suit bag is intuitive enough that you don't need step-by-step instructions. Why isn't this the first option, though? A suit bag will only protect your slacks and blazer if the bag itself is properly handled. Once it's stuffed into a bin or crushed under another bag, there goes all your proper planning.

Step 1: Politely ask the flight attendants if they'll let you hang your suit bag in that handy storage closet near the front of the plane.

Step 2: If that doesn't work, carefully slide your unfolded suit bag atop other passengers' roll-aboard luggage.

Step 3: As a last resort, after takeoff, retrieve your folded-up suit bag from the overhead bin or from under the seat in front of you and unfurl it across your lap and knees.

The next time you have to take a quick, last-minute trip, or you're just really struggling with designating space in your luggage, look over our tips for how to pack your suit. Not only will your suit arrive in one piece, but you'll be able to wear it without needing to get it pressed.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven John
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
Make travel easy: The best packing apps for every type of traveler
Packing is always the worst part of traveling. Find the best packing app to help you stay sane for your trip
Someone packing their suitcase for a trip.

Let's be real: Packing for a trip is tedious, stressful, and time-consuming. For most of us, it just plain sucks. If you’re not the sort of masochist traveler who actually enjoys packing, smartphone technology is here to help. There's an app for everything, and they have come up with the best packing apps so you don't have to cry while putting things randomly into your suitcase.

There's a huge selection of travel apps out there, including packing apps for every flavor of traveler. From control freaks to those who want a dead-simple wizard to hand-hold them through every step of the packing process, these mobile packing apps make the process as quick, painless, and even mindless as possible. These are the best packing apps for travelers who seriously hate to pack.

Read more
Denver travel guide: Where to stay, what to eat, and more
Here's how to have a great time in Denver
Denver Colorado

Denver is a one-of-a-kind city. A unique crossover of the Colorado hippie and high plains cowboy cultures, it's got a vibe unto its own. Offering everything from sports to art to the legal sale of weed, Denver has something for everyone in a cityscape that is generally designed well, making it easy to navigate. Traffic is relatively low, app-rented bikes and scooters plentiful, and wide bike lanes abound. Very exploration friendly.

To that end, here are a few suggestions for how to best enjoy your exploration. A lot has changed in Denver over the past few years, but I visited recently and dug into the latest and greatest in regard to where to stay, eat, and have fun.

Read more
Brilliant travel hack could save you a ton when booking international flights
A few clicks could save you a ton on travel
Man waiting for flight at airport.

We all want to make everyone else jealous with our photos from our exotic overseas vacation. But when it comes down to actually booking the trip, we go into panic mode over the amount of money we're going to spend. From the flights to the hotel to local transportation to sightseeing tours, all we see are dollar signs flying away, and for some, that's enough to turn things into a staycation. Traveling internationally doesn't have to be so expensive, and this one hack could save you a ton of money on your flight (and possibly other areas of your vacation abroad). 

The travel tip is so simple
It's an easy two-part setup to get this money-saver for international flights

Read more