Fitting my life into a suitcase - part 3

This is the third instalment in a series of posts sharing how I have consolidated my belongings to fit into a suitcase and carry-on bag for my move abroad. In the first and second instalments, I shared how I have got rid of everything over time in preparation for packing up.

If you’re just starting to simplify all your belongings in preparation for a big move, or even if you’re channelling your inner minimalist, this series will show you the little steps I have taken to consolidate everything over time.

Now things are getting interesting! With just under two weeks until we depart, I completed a practice pack to see if everything I planned on taking would fit in my suitcase and carry-on bag.

Looking in my wardrobe at all the empty shelf and hanging space, I thought I was going to pack everything in quite easily. Once I started adding in other miscellaneous items, such as my hair straightener and runners, I realised packing everything was going to be quite a challenge.

Pictured below are all of the wardrobe items I included in my practice pack. Not pictured is my workout gear (cap, 2x leggings, 2x singlets and 2x running crops), jewellery, hair straightener, hair dryer, underwear, toiletries and make-up.

The suitcase

I’m travelling with an it luggage 109-litre hard case. Both sides have packing room with the top side featuring a zip top compartment and the bottom side with a strap to keep everything separate. It feels like a quality case so I’m excited to put it through its paces and see how it handles everything. I’ll also be carrying a Country Road bag as carry-on along with a handbag to keep all my tech gear safe. If you're from Australia, you've seen the trusty Country Road tote bag everywhere (and probably own one). I've had mine for 8 years and it's still going strong!


I packed 17 tops — 3 long tops, 3 shirts, 2 casual tops, 1 blouse, 3 sleeveless jumpers, 2 dressy sleeveless tops and 3 singlets. With most of these pieces in plain colours, they’re easy to pair with other pieces or layer together. The sleeveless jumpers took up a lot of room when I was packing, so I may need to pick one and let the other 2 go.

Jumpers and jackets

This includes 6 pieces —  1 chunky sleeveless cardigan, 1 warm rain jacket, 1 chunky jumper, 1 cashmere sweater, 1 thin jumper and 1 dressy jacket. Like the sleeveless jumpers I mentioned above, the jumpers and jackets take up a lot of room especially the 2 jackets, chunky cardigan and chunky jumper. Time to rethink a few of these pieces and pick just a couple.


I’ve settled on 6 pairs of bottoms — 1 pair of skinny jeans, 1 pair of boyfriend jeans, 3 pairs of shorts and 1 pair of pants. I know I’ll get lots of wear out of the jeans and pants while I’m travelling. The shorts are for the summer months in Canada, probably a few items I could let go of if space is tight when I pack for real.


I packed 6 dresses — 1 maxi dress, 1 long sleeve dress, 2 night time dresses and 2 casual dresses. I can wear the polka dot dress, long sleeve dress and sleeveless navy dress in warm and cool weather making them perfect for the upcoming trip and spring dressing. The black dress pictured in the middle, far right of the image is a great dress for more formal occasions. but it's quite chunky when packed so I may have to rethink this one.


I included 5 pairs of shoes — runners, sandals, stilettos, black ankle booties and boots. I knew my shoes would take up a lot of room especially because I’m packing a bit of everything. The boots didn’t even make it into my suitcase instead I packed them in my carry-on bag to save suitcase space. I’ll be able to wear boots on travel days throughout Europe which may save room, however, it’s too warm in Australia to wear boots at the airport so they have to live somewhere for the Australia to Thailand portion of the trip. 


I feel like I did well with my accessories packing a sunhat, 2 belts, 2 clutches, 3 scarves and a beach cover-up. The accessories don’t take up much room so these will likely all make the cut for the final pack.

So how did the practice pack go with everything above? It was hard, a lot harder than I expected and I didn’t even include toiletries and make-up because they wouldn’t have fit anyway...

I’ve been focused on making sure I have enough warm clothes for Europe and mild days in Canada while keeping some warmer weather and dressy clothes in the mix as well. Looking at everything laid out on my empty living room floor this week, I know I can downsize much further. I think I’ve just included too many options in each category — a problem easily fixed.

Finally, removing everything from my wardrobes and cupboards first and not packing how I’d normally pack — clothes in first then fitting everything else in the spaces — (read: overthinking things), made my suitcase look and feel fuller than it may be with a more methodical approach. 

I’ll share how I further consolidated when I pack everything for real in a couple of weeks.

Over to you. Have you had any surprises when you’ve started packing all your things for a big trip? Overestimated how much you could fit? Let me know how you’ve downsized your number of items and your favourite packing hacks in the comments below.