Have you searched for packing tips on Pinterest and google, been super excited, tried them and realized they were a HUGE fail!!
That has happened to me too many times to count.
As someone that goes on over 12 trips a year, I have tried almost everything when it comes to packing from using packing cubes to rolling clothes.
There are some packing hacks that are brilliant and work every time and there are some that are well… not so hot. I mean they seem to work in theory but in real life. NO BUENO!!!
So instead of creating just another list of packing hacks, I decided to compile some of my favorite packing hacks. I am also including some of my not so favorite packing hacks as well. Just so we can laugh and cry together.
The Best (and Worst) Packing Tips for Travel
Invest in a solid piece of luggage.
I personally prefer to carry on every single time that I can. Regardless of whether I am going on a one week trip, two-week trip or just a long weekend, not having to check in a bag (because that is MONEY!!!) or even better lug a heavy bag up and downstairs (because I always take public transport because MONEY!!) is important.
So investing in a good carry on is really important. You want something that is light, durable and is easy to maneuver. There are two options you should consider when deciding which luggage is best for you.
Go for a lightweight suitcase.
Don't get stuck paying for overweight baggage fees because your luggage is heavy even when it is empty.
Looking for something lightweight that is still budget-friendly. Check out IT Luggage. Known as the world's lightest luggage, weighing in at 4 lbs it is a great option
Go for a hard case suitcase
A hard case suitcase can be great for many reasons. First, the clamshell design usually means that there is more room for you to better organize your belongings. The hard shell is also great for protecting your valuables. If you are carrying items such as electronics or fragile items opting for a hard case suitcase might be the best bet.
Amazon has a great option that is under $50 and has great reviews. It is a bit heavier at just over 7lbs but the hardshell case and clamshell design keep things organized and protected.
Use a Packing Checklist
Are you a last-minute packer?
Yeah me too!! I am the worse.
However, for years I have been using a packing checklist which helps me ensure that I am packing everything I need every single time. You can easily google or find some great packing lists online or on Pinterest however, to be honest, I actually just keep my packing list on my phone.
It is very simple to create one. First, create your categories. So for me, it is toiletries, electronics, clothing and misc. Then from there just fill in the blanks. Toiletries and electronics are usually the same and you can use that part of the list over and over again. While the other categories are going to vary from trip to trip. For example, if you are going on a hiking adventure then you may want to make sure you are packing everything you need for that activity versus heading to a beach vacation in Playa Del Carmen where you really only might need flip flops and a bathing suit.
Once you have a template it is easy to just fill in the blanks. I promise it is a lot easier than you think.
Here is my actual Packing List. You might be disappointed by how simple it actually is.
I have to admit. I love the idea of packing cubes. And they are great in theory. But to be honest, in my experience, they end up taking way to much room.
They are great for longer trips to keep things organized. So for example, if you are going on a trip that involves multiple cities you can organize your cubes by location.
Of if you are, dare I say, sharing a suitcase with your significant other you can each have your own cubes to keep things organized.
However, if you are looking to save a bit of space by using packing cubes I would say you might be better off with other tips like rolling your clothes or flat laying.
This is just my experience. I usually fit way more in my luggage when I skip out on the cubes.
Be Strategic and Pack your Biggest and Heaviest Items First
Disclaimer. My husband and I completely disagree on this tip. I believe that things like shoes, for example, should go in first. He thinks they should go in last. I've tried both and I personally like my way better.
Pack shoes and other heavier items first. Then start fitting your clothes in on top of it making sure to fill in any spaces between shoes with smaller items. You will be surprised at how much you can actually fit by applying this method
Bonus Tip: Do you really need to pack 8 pairs of shoes for one weekend? I have been guilty of this and it really is just not smart. Instead of trying to floss focus on limiting yourself to three pairs of shoes. Two to pack and one to wear. At least one pair should be a comfy pair. Depending on the weather I will usually pack at least a pair of walking shoes (sneakers or crocs) and a pair of going out shoes (heels or wedges). This is all you really need and it will leave you room for all the other fun stuff.
Not only is packing heavier or bulkier items first a great use of space. But it will also help out with keeping your luggage balanced. Packing your heavier items towards the wheels means that your luggage will be easier to roll and will be less likely to topple over.
Pack Chargers and Headphones With Care
They are a ton of hacks that say to pack cords and charges in a sunglass case. I personally don't get it. Try it out and let me know what you think.
The key is to keep your wires safe, separate and easily accessible. Instead of packing extra cases and bags be creative. Here are some ideas where you can store wires and headphones.
- Purse or handbag. If you are bringing an extra purse that is a great place to store handbags.
- Shoes. Tuck them into your shoes
Wear bulky items
Things like sneakers, boots, and jackets are better off being worn as opposed to packed in a suitcase. Of course, this is tricky when traveling to different climates. However, when possible plan your outfits so that you wear your bulkiest items on the plane.
For example, I always bring my jacket with me on the plane. Planes are cold and jackets take up a lot of space so it is a win-win for me.
Bonus: Do you like to sleep with a duvet in the winter. If you are flying a red eye and are coming and going from a cold climate bring your down or down alternative jacket with you. I do this all the time and use my jacket as a blanket. (I once used it as a sleeping bag at the Madrid airport too. Don't judge). The jacket gives me the same comfort as if I was home tucked in my duvet which means I fall asleep a lot faster.
Store your shoes in a shower cap.
Keep your clothes clean and protected from dirty shoes.
I personally prefer to use shoe bags however if you don't have shoe bags then using the shower caps that you can usually find in your hotel room is another great option. If you're in a pinch you can also use grocery bags as well. However, if you travel often enough I would recommend you invest in shoe bags which are reusable and durable.
Create a dedicated Travel Toiletry Kit
Instead of packing and repacking your toiletries for every single trip why not just have a dedicated toiletry kit with all your essentials. It is a small investment but well worth it. It saves time and the chances of you forgetting something are slim.
Bonus Tip: You know those cute little bars of soap and toiletries at the hotels. Make sure to grab some of those and throw them int your toiletry kit. After every trip do stock on what's in your toiletry kit and replace or refill bottles right away. If there is anything you missed while on vacation (like a razor for example) now is the time to add it so you don't forget it again.
Use Plastic Wrap
If you are packing liquids I learned a little trick the hard way that I have to share. Before placing your liquids into your toiletry kit, unscrew the top, place plastic wrap over the opening and screw the cap back on. This will give you an extra layer of protection from spills.
Pack a Laundry Bag
This is one of my favorite tips and something I wish I did way sooner. Pack a laundry bag for all your dirty clothes. Every evening throw your dirty clothes in the laundry bag. By the end of the trip, all you have to do is throw your laundry bag back into your luggage and you're done. Easy peasy.
Bonus Tip: If you are traveling with a spouse or significant other, when you arrive at your location designate one of your suitcase the laundry suitcase. Anything that is dirty goes into that suitcase. By the end of your trip you will be all packed and ready to go.
Invest in a Luggage Scale
I have to admit. I have yet to invest in a luggage scale. Do I think it is a necessity? No. Do I think it can save you money? Most likely.
It really is hard to figure out how much stuff weighs. So in order to avoid baggage fees investing in a Luggage Scale is key. Or just be like me and learn what things weigh. If you follow the advice here (such as wearing bulkier items as opposed to packing them) chances are you won't have a need for a luggage scale.
Should you Roll or Should you Fold (Which Packing Method Words Best?)
This is another fight in my house. I'm team roll. Hubs is team fold. My luggage usually looks like hot mess express. His looks like Marie Kondo packed for him.
If you ask me which method works best I would tell you that it depends. Why? because depending on the clothes you are bringing with you one method might work better than the other.
Instead of telling you to do this or that I would recommend you try both and see which one you prefer. Rolling does have its perks. I noticed fewer wrinkles when I roll my clothes.
However, I can sometimes fit more if I flat fold my clothes.
Speaking of Marie Kondo I think I found the deal breaker…
Use the Kon Mari Method (Kon Mari for Packing)
If you haven't heard of Kon Mari I highly suggest you check her out. And if you have I don't panic. I am not telling you to pack an empty suitcase with one item of clothing. Yes, everything you pack should bring you joy. But we are skipping that exercise here.
What I want you to do is fold your clothes in the Kon Mari style. If it can work to maximize space at home then it can definitely work to maximize space in your luggage.
I found a great post on how to KonMari pack here.
Keep your Jewelry Safe
I highly recommend leaving your valuables at home. You do not want to run the risk of losing a family heirloom.
For any jewelry that you do pack I would recommend investing in a travel jewelry case. No matter what hack or tip I read I always end up with a mess. I finally decided to bite the bullet and get a jewelry case. Can I say LIFE CHANGING!!!
Maximize Space in Your Luggage
Make sure to fill up every single space you can find. Traveling with a hat. Fill it up with socks or underwear to maintain the shape and make use of otherwise dead space.
Fill up your shoes and small bags with accessories and smaller items.
The space in between your shoes and around the edges of the suitcase is great for smaller rolled up items such as t-shirts, pajamas or workout clothes.
Wrinkles Be Gone
Ok, so you managed to pack everything. It fits. It's underweight. You're ready to go. But then you get to your destination to unpack and everything is a wrinkled mess. UFF.
There are a few ways to protect your clothes and keep them wrinkle-free.
I mentioned this above and while I am not a huge fan I have to admit that rolling clothes does help to minimize wrinkles.
Dry Cleaning Bags
I do not know why? Someone, please tell me why. Packing your clothes in Dry Cleaning Bags does wonders. I am obsessed with Rent the Runway and every time I receive new items for my trips I almost always keep them in the dry cleaning bags. Compared to the rest of my clothes those items almost always seem to have a lot fewer wrinkles. It's magic.
Wrinkle Release Spray
If you haven't tried wrinkle release spray then you need to give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised. I have to say I was a skeptic but I took this on a cruise and was amazed at how well it worked. Some people opt to spray their clothes beforehand to prevent wrinkles, however, I pack a travel-sized bottle. As soon as I reach my destination I unpack my clothes, spray them and let it do its magic.
Wrinkle-free clothes. No iron needed.
Keep Things Fresh
What is it about the smell of freshly washed laundry? It is just amazing? Wouldn't it be nice if you got that freshly wash smell as soon as you opened your luggage?
All you have to do is throw in some dryer sheets and you are good to go.
This has to be one of my favorite packing hacks. I just LOVE the smell of freshly washed clothes.
Resist the urge to overpack
27 outfits for a 3 day weekend. Do you girl!! I am not going to tell you not to. YOU NEED ALL THOSE OUTFITS!!!
What I am going to tell you is what you do not need to bring?
If you don't work out when you are home then you do not need to pack workout gear. Yeah, that gym in the hotel looks great in pictures but you're on vacation. Let's be realistic.
If you are staying at a hotel, research the amenities such as hair tools, toiletries and other goodies that may be available. No need to pack a hairdryer, soap and other toiletries if they are available for you at the hotel.
You will be surprised at what hotels (especially the luxury ones) offer nowadays.
But don't forget to pack a reusable water bottle.
I talk about this a bit in my post about Airport Hacks, but packing a reusable bottle is a great way to save money and say hydrated during your trip. While this might not really be a “packing hack” it could help reduce stress if you fill said reusable bottle with wine before you start packing. JUST KIDDING!! But really I am not.
Ok. I am kidding. Just don't forget to pack a reusable water bottle OK!!
When packing opt for items that can do double duty. For example, a small bag can be used to store smaller items and also as an evening bag. Reusable shopping bags are great to have for day trips or just in case you go a bit overboard with souvenir shopping.
Plan your Outfits
Before you even start to think about all the cute outfits you just bought for your trip, stop and think about what you are going to need.
First, you want to figure out your activities and the proper attire. Don't be like me. I hiked a volcano in Greece in my crocs. I survived. But it wasn't exactly recommended hiking gear.
These are the crocs I wore in case your interested. I am obsessed with them.
Ok… where were we? As I was saying plan ahead. Figure out what your activities are and what you will need for those activities.
Then plan our outfits accordingly. By planning ahead you are less likely to overpack or leave anything behind.
Stick to one Color Scheme
When planning your outfits stick to one color scheme. Most will say to pack neutrals however what does that even mean. For some, a neutral can be white, black, beige, leopard, red… Everything nowadays everything is technically a neutral. So pick a color scheme and stick to it. The idea is that all the pieces you pack should be able to mix and match with each other. Therefore you end up with more outfit combinations with fewer pieces.
And Finally… The One Packing Tip You Can't Live Without
Check the weather. I save the best for last. I actually almost forgot to write about it. Regardless of whether you are a last-minute packer or have your bags packed six months in advance make sure you check the weather at least a couple of days before you leave.
Weather changes quickly and you don't want to end up wearing shorts when the weather is chilly or rolling up your sweatshirt on a hot sweltering day. It might involve you having to swap some stuff out or bring an umbrella or jacket but trust me when I say you will be glad you did.
Did you find these tips helpful? Save them for later. And come back and visit.
Rebecca Gardner says
I love your suggestion to pick a color scheme for our outfits so we can mix and match any pieces once we get there. My husband and I want to find a hotel we can book for a week-long trip next month since we both agree we need some time away from work to de-stress. I always end up packing way more clothes than I need for trips, so the advice you shared here will be really helpful to keep in mind!
I am very happy to hear that. I was such a bad over packer. I like options. But when I started planning my outfits and really focusing on mixing and matching it has helped big time. I still have enough options but I can actually lift my bag over my head because I didn’t over pack. Haha.
Absolutely brilliant! Very helpful article, loved it. 😊 Will definitely use most of them.
Yay! I am happy to hear that Davina.