Peeks Into the American Suitcase

Survey Uncovers American Packing Practices

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Nov 4, 2015) - Fold vs. roll? Procrastinate or plan ahead? Carry-on or check? Are there standards for American packing? A recent survey from, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, unpacks the practices of American travelers and finds some decided method to the madness.

"When you people-watch at the airport, you see an amazing cross-section of travelers passing through with luggage of every shape and style," said Amanda Festa, editor at "From heaping baggage carts and bulging backpacks to sleek rollerboards and kids atop ride-on suitcases, luggage is proof there's a story behind every journey, and it starts with getting packed and organized for a trip. We wanted to know more about how Americans pack and what, if any, common practices we share. It turns out there are a lot!"

Laying the groundwork

Across the board, Americans are surprisingly organized when it comes to packing. Just over 56 percent of us make packing lists and 77 percent plan or lay out outfits. And we build the time to do all of this into our pre-trip routine. Forty-two percent of us start packing two to three days before leaving on a trip. An additional 30 percent start packing a week ahead of a trip. By contrast, 26 percent wait until the night before and just over 2 percent are true last-minute packers, starting an hour or less before leaving.

Starting to pack two to three days ahead is the most common plan for both men and women (42 percent for men and 43 percent for women). However, men do tend to be slightly more last minute, with more than 28 percent starting to pack the night before. Over 3 percent of men reported waiting until an hour or less before leaving. On the flip side, when it comes to packing lists and planning outfits, the scales do tip a bit toward women, with 63 percent of female respondents reporting they make lists (versus 49 percent of male respondents) and 85 percent saying they plan or lay out outfits (versus 68 percent of male respondents).

Underwear and shoes

There is amazing consistency with packing two wardrobe staples: shoes and underwear. An overwhelming majority of Americans (74 percent) report bringing two to three pairs of shoes when they travel. Seventeen percent say they make do with one pair, while 7 percent bring four to five and 2.5 percent squeeze in more than five. And, yes, we looked at men versus women and found two to three pairs of shoes ranked as the top answer for all respondents (72 percent for men and 75 percent for women). However, 22 percent of men fall into the one pair of shoes camp, with only 4 percent packing four to five pairs and less than 2 percent toting over five pairs. For women, 12 percent bring one pair, 10 percent bring four or five pairs and just over 3 percent bring more than five.

There is also, it seems, a standard practice for packing underwear. The most common response by far? A pair for every day of the trip plus a spare (45 percent). The next closest response, at 26 percent, is a pair for every day of the trip. In third place, at 17 percent, is twice as many pairs as days on the trip. Just under 8 percent take the casual approach of "however many pairs I happen to throw in" and 4 percent skimp, bringing a pair or two less than days on the trip. Woman, at 23 percent, are way more likely to bring twice as many pairs of underwear as days than men, at 10 percent. Meanwhile, 6 percent of men (versus 3 percent women) will pack a pair or two less than days on the trip. Likewise, almost 9 percent of men (versus 6 percent of women) throw caution to the wind and bring however many pairs they happen to toss in.

Packing skills and style

Experts are fond of touting ways to pack efficiently, and Americans seem to be listening. While folding is the default packing style (the choice of 70 percent of respondents), 30 percent report rolling their clothes (32 percent for women and 28 percent for men). The survey also shows 81 percent of Americans consider themselves good at packing. However, only 45 percent of Americans (50 percent for men and 40 percent for women) usually wear everything they pack.

Carry-on and checked bags

Getting by with only carry-on luggage is a mission for the majority of us (57 percent). And 39 percent admit to regularly pushing the limits on the size and/or quantity of the luggage they try to carry-on. On the checked bag front, 31 percent say they've pushed the limits on size/weight, and 42 percent try to minimize this issue by weighing their luggage before going to the airport. For the record, there was virtually no difference in answers between men and women on questions about carry-on and checked bags.

Family packing

When it comes to packing for ourselves and others, however, there is a decided difference between men and women. In general, the survey found that 61 percent of us pack for only ourselves, while 23 percent pack for a spouse or significant other and 11 percent pack for young children. Notably, 65 percent of those who pack for a spouse or significant other are women. And 73 percent of those who pack for young children are also women.

Findings are based on an online survey of 1,006 Americans conducted in a 24-hour period over October 22 and 23, 2015. See more details at

About, part of the Momondo Group
Momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 17.5 million visitors a month -- plus 8 million travel newsletter subscribers -- via its Cheapflights ( and momondo ( brands. Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006. The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen and Boston with a consumer base across more than 30 core international markets but users all over the world.

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