How to pack a suitcase like Marie Kondo

We can't imagine Marie Kondo sitting on her suitcase and hoping it will close; check out the KonMari way of packing...

Marie Kondo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We can only imagine Marie Kondo proceeding calmly through an airport, perfectly packed suitcase trailing neatly behind her. And while, for the rest of us, there are very few negative things about going on holiday – sitting next to a stag do on the plane, humidity hair – packing a suitcase is definitely up there. 

There are just so many ways you can mess up packing. You can, of course, overpack, stuff your suitcase to the brim with every item in your wardrobe, just in case you have the burning desire to finally wear that pink sequin mini skirt, or you could under pack (this to be honest is never a problem we have encountered) and end up living in the same three kaftans for two weeks.  

Thankfully, both of these scenarios can be avoided with the help of decluttering guru Marie Kondo. So keep reading how you can apply the KonMari method to your packing...

For more tips on how to tidy and declutter like Marie Kondo head over to our dedicated feature. 

1. Pick a good quality suitcase

Does you current suitcase 'spark joy' as Marie Kondo would say? Does the almost broken zip, the half falling off wheel, the lining ingrained with sand spark joy? No, we thought not. It's probably time to invest in a new, good quality suitcase. Marie Kondo recommends choosing a suitcase that's durable, lightweight, and most importantly a size that’s appropriate for the length of the trip. Oh, and make sure it's smooth-gliding; if it doesn't glide through that airport like a warm knife thought butter then it's not the one. 

Packing using the #konmarimethod! A suitcase you don't mind living out of. Marie Kondo

A photo posted by @mariekondo on May 19, 2017 at 1:08pm PDT

2. Categorise your packing

Once you've picked everything you think you want to pack, first apply the number one KonMari rule: check that everything 'sparks joy'. That cute new cozzy? Yep, that can stay. A just-in-case fleece? It's going to be 38 degrees, get rid. To make things easier, divide your packing into sections, then you can see what you have too much of (swimwear) and what you might be lacking in (anything that isn't swimwear). We recommend planning outfits before you pack, too; that way you avoid throwing unnecessary items into the suitcase. 

Marie Kondo says that you should only use a maximum of 90 per cent of your suitcase. That way, nothing is going to get crazy crumpled because you've over-stuffed your luggage. Plus, you then have plenty of room for joy sparking souvenirs! 

3. Start folding (the Marie Kondo way)

Once you've made the cull, it's time to start folding and rolling. As you all probably know, there is a 'right' way to fold your clothes to ensure they take up as little space as possible. For an in depth guide on how to fold like Marie Kondo, head over to our feature; but the basic premise is to fold clothes so they stand vertically. For thinner items, such as dresses or skirts, that are more delicate roll to prevent wrinkles.

With your underwear and socks, Kondo recommends saving space by tucking them into bra cups. Nifty. 

Top tip: It's an obvious one, but make sure if you are having more than one layer in your case, pack the heavier items at the bottom, and lighter, more delicate pieces on top. 

4. Organise your miscellaneous items 

Marie Kondo is a big fan of corralling similar items into smaller pouches so everything is easy to find and has it's place. So get yourself so packing cubes, bags or pouches for all your stuff that isn't clothes – think tech, toiletries, makeup, jewellery, etc. Then group them together into a category for each pouch. You could take things even further and get a different coloured pouch for each category, or use a label maker to make things easier when you are unpacking on the other side. 

Top tip: Avoid spills. Is there anything worse than arriving on holiday, opening your case and finding your Moroccan oil has leaked all over your case? Stained clothes and nothing to tame the aforementioned humidity hair? Nightmare. So, to avoid such calamities, unscrew the lids of any suspect looking toiletries (yes hair oil is a number one culprit), cover the openings with clingfilm/saran wrap, then screw the lid back on.

5. Choose slim pickings for your reading matter

Don't forget to add in your fave summer reads (check out our list of the best for 2019). Only pick books you know you are going to read though, leave War and Peace at home, now is not the time for Tolstoy. And better than packing a pile of books, why not treat yourself to a slim, light Kindle? The newest, Kindle Oasis, is now available. 

Magazines are also joy sparkers obviously, so don't forget to take a copy of Real Homes. The September issue (on sale at the end of July) even comes in a Marie Kondo pleasing travel size. Get your copy now, or subscribe and pay just £3 per issue. 

Learn more of Marie Kondo's life changing techniques:

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.