When it comes to packing, everyone seems to have a proven method or a stalwart philosophy. What you will learn, for sure, if you study all the different ways to pack is that there are a myriad of "ideal" ways shove your stuff into a suitcase…and everyone has an opinion.
Bundling is yet another new packing trend, particularly among backpackers and carry-on only purists, but just because something is trendy, or even highly functional, doesn’t mean that it is right for YOU. I think we learned that from the fashion combo of jeggings and anyone over 30. Yes, bundling is trendy, functional, and wrinkle free, but is it worth it?
What is Bundle Packing?
As the name suggests, bundle packing involves wrapping all your clothes around a soft core, thus creating a bundle of clothing. The reason this packing process has skyrocketed to fame is because it claims to allow you to arrive at your location with wrinkle free clothes. The combination of stretching the fabric around a soft center and eliminating the need to create harsh folds does away with the wrinkles.
If wrinkles are the bane of your travel existence, this is the packing method for you, but even if you don’t care about wrinkles (or know how to use the iron that you can find in just about any hotel), you still might want to bundle. Bundling is a big space saver. In fact, it is just as space saving as the rolling method, and less time consuming than rolling each piece of clothing individually. Also, because bundling molds your clothes into a somewhat square-ish shape, it just seems like it was made to fit into your square- shaped suitcase. Don’t worry though; bundling doesn’t discriminate. You can just as easily pack a bundle into a duffle bag or backpack and still expect (relatively) wrinkle free clothing.
How to Bundle?
Bundling requires some pretty serious pre-planning, so is not recommended for those who pack last minute or shove piles of random clothes in a bag and hope for the best. You need to carefully choose what you need and collect all the parts of the wardrobe down to the last sock and dainty before you begin.
So, in step by step form:
Step One: Collect all the clothes you need and lay them on your bed or table.
Step Two: Button all the buttons and zip all the zippers.
Step Three: Gather all your small bits (socks, underwear, PJs, swimwear) into one bundle. The best way to contain the smallest members of your wardrobe is to confine them to a space bag or zip-top bag. Think of them as the toddlers of the group. They are a flight risk.
Step Four: Layer your clothes for bundling. Start with your most tailored pieces i.e. suit jackets, blouses. The idea is that the items that are most likely to wrinkle will be on the outside with the least amount of folding. Turn jackets buttons down with the collars at the center and place on the horizontal line in front of you. Add other jackets and shirts along the horizontal line with collars oriented towards the center and overlapping so that the shoulder of the garments touch. Continue adding shirts on the horizontal line, ending with your T-shirts, or most casual shirts.
Step Five: Add pants perpendicular to the piles of shirts and jackets. Remember that pants and skirts will lie on the vertical line and tops on the horizontal line. Just like with the shirts, work from most tailored to least tailored as you layer.
Step Six: Place your prepackaged bundle of undies and such in the center of your piles of clothes. Begin wrapping each garment individually around the soft core, smoothing the wrinkles and tucking tightly as you go. Wrap the layer of bottoms first, and then move to the tops. With long- sleeved shirts, wrap the sleeves first and then the rest of the shirt.
Step Seven: Place your bundle in your suitcase or enclose in a space bag to keep everything bundled neatly.
The Verdict on Bundling?
Bundling absolutely renders clothing wrinkle free upon arrival, and it is a space saver. Bundle packing has the added bonus of helping to focus packing choices and eliminating over packing. While that makes it the Holy Grail of packing on the surface, there are some drawbacks. Bundling is somewhat time consuming and it makes it necessary to unpack everything once you arrive. It wouldn’t be ideal for overnight trips or trips where you are bouncing from place to place. Additionally, you have to unroll everything to get to anything, so you can’t quickly grab a clean pair of socks or a T-shirt. This also comes into play if, horror of horrors, security decides they need to rummage through your bag.
So, that brings us back to the original question: is turning your laundry into origami a worthwhile travel hack? In certain packing instances, it is absolutely the best choice, but those instances are limited. I would recommend bundling if you are really short on space, such as a carry-on only trip AND you need to take tailored clothes that are prone to wrinkling. A quick business trip is an ideal trip for bundle packing, but don’t let the right conditions stop you from trying to bundle the next time you travel. It really is a fun way to pack, but if you don’t love it, at least you can join the ranks of people who have very strong opinions about the right way to put clothes into a suitcase.