The Best Tips for Packing a Garment Bag When Travelling

Though packing a garment bag seems pretty straightforward, there are best practices that, when applied, keep the items in your garment bag pristine and ready to wear upon arriving at your destination. Here are the six steps that will help your precious items arrive in the best possible condition.

a woman looking at the countryside at sunset through a train window

Garment bags are very versatile. Some garment bags store a single piece of clothing. And, other bags carry multiple suits or jackets. Longer garment bags are perfect for evening attire, while shorter bags are best for wool coats.

Hayden Hill offers two types of storage garment bags that are ideal for storing and protecting jackets, dresses, and other valuable items.

But another type of garment bag that can be incredibly useful is a travel garment bag.

Travel garment bags are made with flexible yet breathable material that is ideal for transporting delicate or easily wrinkled items.

And though packing a garment bag seems pretty straightforward, there are best practices that, when applied, keep the items in your garment bag pristine and ready to wear upon arriving at your destination.

6 Tips for Packing a Garment Bag Correctly

Here are the six steps that will help your precious items arrive in the best possible condition.

hand washing garments in the basin at home

1. Wash and iron clothing before packing.

The purpose of using a garment bag rather than a suitcase to transport clothing is to minimise wrinkling. To achieve that goal, you should launder and iron clothing before packing.

You may be able to wash items at home, or it may be necessary to take pieces like wool coats and dresses to the dry cleaner. Laundering your garments ensures that any residue or doors are removed.

Also, examine the clothing for missing buttons or broken zippers, so you won’t have to get anything repaired while travelling.

2. Use tissue paper to maintain an item’s shape.

Placing too many items in a garment bag often causes the clothing to lose shape. Putting white tissue paper inside the arms and legs of a garment helps it keep its structure and prevents wrinkling.

Use only acid-free white tissue paper. Coloured tissue paper contains dyes that can seep into your clothing, especially when there is moisture in the air.

3. Review your itinerary when deciding what to pack first.

The order in which you pack items is critical, especially if you are going straight from the airport or car to an event.

Clothing should be packed with items to be worn first in the front of the bag and items to be worn last in the back. This order also minimises wrinkling.

4. Place your garments on hangers.

Depending on the style of garment bag, it may or may not include hangers. If you use your own hangers, the wire variety can save space but doesn’t provide a lot of structure and could leave dents in the fabric when hung for too long.

As mentioned above, you can combine items on one hanger. For instance, you might hang a blouse with its coordinating blazer. This not only saves space, but it makes finding the right outfit easier.

Secure your skirts or pants with pant hangers. The more immovable an item is on the hanger, the less it will wrinkle.

Also, if a piece of clothing has hanger straps inside of it, secure those to the hangers as well. These straps are designed to take some weight off heavy garments and prevent them from sliding off the hanger.

5. Secure all buttons and fasteners.

Once you have everything on the hanger, make sure each item is buttoned and zipped. Again, this keeps the garments more secure.

If your garment bag has the space or a separate compartment, you can also pack your shoes. Place shoes in a cotton shoe bag and put them at the bottom of the garment bag.

buttoning up a shirt with a frill front

6. Close the garment bag.

If your garment bag is designed as a carry-on, it will fold up. Before folding the bag, check all sides of the bag to ensure everything is zippered and secured.

You can then carry your bag by the hanger, draped over your arm, or folded up.

How to Pack a Long Dress in a Garment Bag

Due to its added length, packing a long dress in a garment bag requires extra attention to detail. Follow these steps to protect your dress while travelling.

  • Lay the garment bag open.
  • Begin with the dress hanging on your hanger of choice. Place the hook of the hanger through the top opening of the garment bag.
  • Fold the left and right sides of the dress towards the waistline. If your dress has a train, keep that outside of the bag for now.
  • Once you have folded the two halves of the dress along the centerline, roll the train up. Work slowly and deliberately, so both sides of the dress remain folded in place.
  • Roll the train until it can fit into the bag; then place it carefully in the bottom of the bag.
  • Zip the garment bag up slowly, avoiding the fabric. It is best to run your finger along the inside of the zipper as you pull it closed.

Folding Your Garment Bag

Folding a garment bag properly is just as important as packing the bag to minimise wrinkling.

Keep these tips in mind as you fold the bag for transport.

  • If your garment bag has a bi-fold or tri-fold construction, gently fold the bag over itself. Keep the folds as loose as possible to avoid crushing the garment, especially if the item has structure or boning.
  • Use the snap closure to keep the garment bag securely folded.
  • If you have never used the garment bag, test folding it prior to adding your clothing. Folding or fastening the bag repeatedly can wrinkle the items inside.

Unpacking Your Garment Bag After Arrival

After you’ve arrived at your destination, remove items from the garment bag and hang in a closet to allow them to breathe and any wrinkles to fall out.

If any items are slightly wrinkled, they may benefit from steaming. Simply hang the clothing in the bathroom while showering. The steam is especially effective on natural fibres, such as cotton, wool, and silk.

Or, if your schedule allows, you may be able to take advantage of your hotel’s pressing service.


Take extra care when packing your valuable items to ensure they are in pristine condition when you arrive at your destination. Rest assured that regardless of where your travels take you, garment bags will keep your clothing protected.

a travel garment bag unfolded
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