The Art of Rolling

Updated July 16, 2020


I was speaking with one of my clients not too long ago about the differences in price for her flights if she traveled by only a bookbag, bag in the overhead bin, and checking a bag in to go underneath the plane. She was quite shocked at how much she could save if she only took a bookbag. We are talking about saving hundreds of dollars or more! Now, like many other people she questioned if she could make everything fit in a bookbag because she felt as if she needed to take bigger luggage to ensure everything fits.


Grandparents luggage from the 40's

Most airlines consider a bookbag to be my personal bag and DO NOT CHARGE, so I pay NOTHING for baggage when I travel with only a bookbag. There are ways you can "cut corners" to help keep the cost down when wanting to travel on a budget. Companies have started making bookbags that are designed like suitcases which can be any traveler's best friend. (The bookbag my sister bought me and that I absolutely love is listed below.)


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When people start to think about what to pack before flying, something most people start to worry about besides packing everything is how much the bag will weigh when checking in. People dread this because they know this can result in either paying more for the luggage or figuring out how to get the bag to the weight of the airline company requires. Baggage at the gate can cost anywhere from $18 to over $200 depending on the airline company. So by taking a bookbag, you never have to worry about this extra "fee" on top of the fee.


Are you still freaking out about the thought of making everything fit into a bookbag? I am here to tell you, that you can fly with only a book bag and have an array of outfits to choose from. (If you do need more room, this method can be applied for larger suitcases to fit even more clothes into that luggage.) Learning how to pack your clothes to maximum every single space in your luggage is important when wanting to use only a bookbag.



The Art of Rolling is learning how to "fold" your clothes when needing to travel via plane to fit every piece of clothing you can. Now, if you are telling yourself you need all 16 outfits for the two nights you are staying somewhere, then you will have to learn to eliminate some outfits first. And this is one step I have to remind myself often when packing. What helps me is asking myself "Do I really need this?" Usually, I answer with "this would be cool to have just in case, but Sara gets real, you don't need it."


Now, after eliminating some of those outfits you will never wear, let's switch focuses on how you pack those items. The art of rolling is not complex to learn but can take some time to master and find your own grove. The whole idea of rolling your clothes is to eliminate extra space in your bookbag/luggage. Basically, your clothes should not be able to breathe when in your suitcase.


For me, I start with the thickest clothing items first because they take more room. And most of the time, these are the items I have to have like bathing suits, pants, etc. I leave the thinnest items for last because these act like my "plugin" items to go around my thick items. Keep on reading as I break it down even more you. This is my preference and if you rather start with thickest first, go right ahead. Just make it work for you.


To best explain this method, I have written an example from one of my trips.


When I went to California in January of 2018, I only packed a bookbag worth of clothes and items I needed. (To this day, I am super proud of how well I packed on this trip.) Since I was going somewhere that had warm days and chilly nights, I needed to pack smart for this trip. So, leggings it was! I pulled all my leggings out that I wanted to pack and laid the pile on top of my bed.


Sunrise over Los Angeles

I start with one pair of leggings and laid them flat on my bed with the waistline facing the top of the bed. (This piece of placement when laying is key when learning to roll your clothes which I will cover in the jeans section.) Take the next pair of leggings and lay them flat on top of the other pair with the waistline facing the bottom of the bed. So, you literally are stacking the leggings on top of each other, but the waistline alternative sides with each other. Now once you have your leggings (no more than six or so) laid out, fold them in half so you are only seeing one leg of the leggings. When layering your clothes, make sure to not layer too many clothes as they become too thick to roll or fit in the bookbag.


Here comes the fun part...THE ROLLING!


Take one side (doesn't matter which) of the leggings and start to roll them like rolling up a sleeping bag. When you are rolling the leggings, keep it tight because again, you are eliminating any extra space. Keep rolling until all the leggings or whatever clothing item you are working on is done. Now, hold onto the leggings tight, so they don't come undone when placing in your bag. I know some people use rubber bands to keep the clothes together and something I'll have to try one day.


Next, place these leggings into your bookbag and tuck them into the bottom of your bag. If you need to use a prop to keep them in place until you have more items rolled to stack on top then I recommend using something...anything. I cannot tell you how many times I placed my rolled item in the bag and turned away and within seconds, it all came undone.


Continue this process until you have rolled each item you are needing to take. (See that keyword...needing.) Once you are done with the heavier items, start working on rolling your thinner items. These make for great plugins when needing to fill spaces like the side of the bookbag or arching around the zipper. By rolling your clothes, you can fit numerous outfits into one space and having everything neat and organized. Everything should be packed tight to where your clothes are not budging any when the bag is thrown onto the overhead bin on the plane. One less stress to worry about!


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Now when it comes to jeans, I have a love-hate relationship. I try my best to stay away from packing jeans because they are so thick and heavy, plus depending on where I am going, may not mix well with the weather there. However, the right pair of jeans can make a lot of different outfits, so something to keep in mind when depending on what to pack. (This is one way I can make different outfits by using the same tops/bottoms to create new outfits.)


Remember when I said that alternating your clothing items earlier would be key for when rolling jeans, it really does make the difference when wanting to pack jeans. Jeans are thick and the thickest part can be the waistline because there can be buttons/extra material, so when rolling your jeans, you want to evenly balance out the thick parts. This is where alternating the waistline comes in handy to eliminate any extra space that can add up. Doesn't make much sense, let me break it down...


When I traveled to Florida in April of 2018, I wanted to take some jeans, so decided to pack three pairs all while keeping everything in one book bag. (This is probably the trip that I learned not to take jeans to Florida or anywhere that will be hot and humid.) I laid the first pair of jeans down on the bed and had the waistline towards the top of the bed. The next pair of jeans were laid on top of those jeans, but with the waistline at the bottom of the bed. Sound familiar? It's the same rolling I did with the leggings. With jeans, I don't want the extra material all laid in the same place because now I have too much clothing material on one end which will create extra space between the clothes and become too thick to pack. Extra space means I pack less clothing items. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of just taking a bookbag.


Example of my rolling for one of my trips

Think I forgot about items like bras, panties, and all those fun things...nope, I save these for very last. I don't roll these items usually because I can find little pockets to plug them into. I may not be kept together, but they fill any extra space I do have.


One thing to know when I use a bookbag is that I do not travel with toiletries because when you land at your destination, hit up the local convenience store for $1.00 shampoos and conditioners. This will save a good portion of the room in your bag and avoid a headache at TSA. Or worse, having to throw away your favorite lotion. (This actually happened to my friend when we were traveling together.)


And there you have it folks, how I pack for trips and able to only take a bookbag with me which saves me even more money when traveling. I try my best to eliminate expenses anywhere I can and believe that every way counts. You can completely cut costs at the airport and use those funds towards another fun activity or simply save it for the next trip. I hope this blog helps you when wanting to take that next trip and not worrying about baggage fees!

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Hello Everyone, my name is Sara Elizabeth and a full-time working mom and a full-time student!

Over the years I have fallen in love with  traveling and exploring the great states of the United States! This passion grew from understanding how to find good deals on airline flights which have been the reason for many of my travel adventures. This journey has led me to find "that travel deal" for domestic and international flights. These are those kinds of deals that have people asking "How did you find them so low?" ...Well, to those asking that question, follow along this adventure of mine to learn my methods for finding that perfect travel deal. 

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