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17 Travel Packing Hacks to Change the Way You Pack

I am very type-A when it comes to packing. I must have things SO organized and always want to have lots of room to shop, so I never over pack. I have gotten pretty good at packing and wanted to share my travel packing hacks with you!

Other Packing + Flying Guides:

17 Travel Packing Hacks

1. When going carry-on, wear the heavy thing as part of your travel outfit

Kind of common sense, but if you’re taking boots or sneakers wear them on the flight. Keep your jacket with you on the flight (not in your carry-on). Just those two things take so much space in a rolling carry-on bag. Taking a sweater? Wear it at the airport. It’s cold anyway!

PS: Yes, you do want to include a nice airplane pillow, like the new TRTL pillow, as part of your travel outfit. You don’t have to wear it the whole time, but don’t forget it!

2. Sarongs

Turkish towel, lungi, sarong, whatever you want to bring… bring two! They are amazing for travel. You can cover up on a flight, in a cold airport, cover your shoulders at religious monuments, and use them at the pool and beach. I can’t go anywhere without my Indian lungis.

3. Leave the hair tools at home

I know some people think they need curlers and straighteners, but I swear natural hair always looks so nice. Instead of that, try out surf spray. My favorite is the Bumble & Bumble travel size. What I do is spray it on flip my hair upside down and put it in a loose bun. I just sleep like that. It saves me so much time to never have to do my hair.

Luz En Yucatan Review, Merida,


I cannot believe I only got ebags packing cubes this summer! It’s INSANE how much I love them. I actually have two sets so that I can organize even better. Once you try these, you’ll never be able to pack without them.

Review of the eBags Mother Lode 25" Wheeled Duffel

5. Use the KonMari Method for Organizing

You can use this even without packing cubes! Marie recommends a very specific way of folding so you’re not stacking everything on top of each other and can see each piece of folding. I wrote a whole guide on how to apply her famous book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Upso check here on how to use KonMari for packing.

6. Keep your shoes enclosed

I cannot bear to see dirty travel shoes thrown into luggage. I use old cotton purse bags (the bags that purses come in when you buy them). I use the same for my dirty laundry. When the trip is over I turn them inside out and wash them with the rest of the laundry.

Don’t have anything for your shoes and got them all muddy? Take a couple shower caps from the hotel bathroom and put your shoes in them.

Review of the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

7. PLAN your outfits

I used to just pack all my favorite things: my favorite jeans, shorts, few favorite tanks tops, favorite dresses…. etc. But I would forget the tank top I needed for a certain top or the slip that came with a dress. It was annoying. I ALWAYS set each outfit out now when it’s a 10 day or less trip. Here’s an example of packing for 10 days in Jordan. When I go for a month I set out enough for 10 days then do mix and match

8. Use my beauty travel hacks

I wrote a post about all my beauty travel hacks and put all my favorite tiny makeups and how to get free perfume to travel with. Check it out: travel beauty hacks, so you can see how to take fewer toiletries and keep your luggage fresh!

 9. Extra purses…

I try not to take an extra purse, but often want to so I can have a variety of color. If you take a very soft leather bag just flatten it. If you are taking a structured bag it is best to fill it with things and let it take up space. I usually put in my extra sunglasses, and toiletries that won’t fit in my toiletry bag (usually mini shampoo and conditioner).

10. Don’t pack soap

I used to take either a mini shower gel or a bar of soap inside a plastic baggie. But, now I just don’t bother. Every hotel I have stayed at has soap! The only time I take some now is when I’m traveling in India in the mountains or staying at homestays. I mean, if I were to camp, I’d take soap haha but that hasn’t happened in a while.

Review of the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

11. Deal with your cords and chargers

Don’t just throw these in please :) Especially with Mac chargers, it’s very important to treat them well as they are known for breaking at the seam of the cord to that big white surge protector on the cord. You should also wrap up your cords gently and store them.

I use a cute Indian bag I have or sometimes a small packing cube. I keep all my tech stuff in one small bag. PS if your charger is starting to come apart at the plastic covering the wires use the rubber self-setting goo I’ve tried on my old charger! You just wrap it around the cord where it’s breaking and leave it to set for a few minutes. It works like a charm and is really cheap. I take a small squeezy of it in my tech kit.

12. Start with lightweight luggage

The best way to prevent paying overweight fees is to start with luggage that’s lightweight. IT Luggage is one of the most lightweight out there and I can vouch it’s really good luggage. Old luggage your grandparents passed down might as well be thrown out, it’s SO heavy! I love my Delsey the most but I also have a list of 10 different brands if you want to compare. You might also want to use a backpack instead, in which case here’s a post to compare suitcases and backpacks.

I look for lightweight luggage, that looks good, is expandable, has 4-wheel spinners, and the design has taken organization into account.

13. Liquids stay together

I know you might want to put your mini contact solution and lotion in your purse, maybe some face wash and face lotion to freshen up in the side pocket of your carry-on… but at the security line, it’s a pain to not have things together and easily accessible. Think about these things while you are packing to save stress and annoyance.

14. Laptop safety

You shouldn’t put your laptop in a soft carry-on bag and throw it up in the overhead bins. People aren’t careful when they put their things up and turbulence can cause things to move and fall when they open. I have a Delsey 19 inch carry-on hardshell that has a special place for laptops. Of all the carry-on luggage I’ve ever had, this is the BEST I’ve ever found and if it ever breaks, I’ll be re-buying it.

15. The heavy things go near the wheels

When you pack your bag lying down, you may not keep in mind what will happen when you stand it up on the wheels. Keep the heavy things near the wheels and even angle things to stay upright when it’s rolling, and no upside down.

16. Invest in a luggage scale

I fly at least a couple of times a month. I use my little luggage scale every single time. It’s so easy to just slip the hook on your luggage, lift the luggage up, and see exactly the weight rather than stand on a scale and weigh it and subtract your own weight. You could be a couple of pounds off doing it that way, whereas this scale is exact. I have an old school one, but they make electronic ones now.

17. Keep necklaces untangled

The hack you see on Pinterest of putting your necklaces through a straw? It actually works. I usually only bring one necklace and do this for it. If you have a few you travel with, it’s a great option!

That’s my travel packing hacks! Want to know what products I’m packing using all these tips? I have a whole section on the blog for packing tips. Just click here to see a list of articles I’ve written like my favorite camera bags for travel or where I shop for my travel clothes. There are probably a hundred articles on packing, including specific lists for certain destinations.

Are you prepping for a big trip around the world? Check out these other tips:

Pin these travel packing hacks for later:

 travel packing hacks


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. stephanie March 1, 2017 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Planning your outfits is such a good idea. Especially when you are backpacking and have not so many clothes.

  2. Yvon March 2, 2017 at 12:55 am - Reply

    Need to get my hand on those cubes! They are amazing! xoxo

  3. veena March 2, 2017 at 2:53 am - Reply

    For my cords, I roll them up and secure them with a binder clip so they don’t come unrolled in transit and then throw all of them into a Ziploc bag. This keeps them from getting tangled, and I know I have them all in one place whenever I get to my destination. One of the better ideas I’ve had, if I do say so myself ;)

  4. Erin March 2, 2017 at 9:16 am - Reply

    I’m with you on the scale! I dont have the packing cubes but what I do is roll my clothes and put the outfits in ziploc bags. You can squeeze the air out and flatten them a bit, plus you can see through them so you know whats inside without opening it. :)

  5. Andrea Anastasiou March 2, 2017 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Great tips – I’m keen to try laying my clothes flat, as I’ve never done that before! Packing cubes are a life saver, especially when I was travelling long-term with a backpack.

    And I’m glad you reminded me that I don’t need to pack my straighteners – I’m off to Nepal for two months in just over two weeks and while it ‘hurts’ to leave them behind, I know it’s the right thing. Plus, my hair will get a much needed break from styling!

  6. Amy March 5, 2017 at 3:31 am - Reply

    I’ve never used packing cubes but I always keep meaning to, they sound perfect for keeping different types of clothes together and more compact!

  7. Alex March 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    These are some great packing tricks! I love packing cubes myself and always wear my heavy clothes to the airports. Some airports are freaking cold! Another good advice for someone who’s packing is to pack everything you think you need and then put away half of it. I know so many that overpack.. 70-90 liters backpacks in Southeast Asia, crazy :D

  8. Victoria @The British Berliner March 6, 2017 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    I like your tips about shoes Rachel. I usually travel with boots but If I’m going somewhere nice, I have a pair of kitten heels, and birkenstocks too. I usually wrap them and lay them flat.

    p.s. You can stuff socks and underwear in shoes too. If I’m travelling with a backpack that can’t lock, I put sanitary towels and tampons on the top to prevent thieves! Most men are frightened of “ladies things” and won’t bother to go any further!

    • Rachel Jones March 7, 2017 at 7:14 am - Reply

      muahahah such a good idea! how funny! I sometimes also stuff things in my shoes, i’m so OCD though that I hate the thought of things being all over the place even if it makes sense space wise lol

  9. Tam March 7, 2017 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Awesome tips! I think packing cubes and shoe bags saved my life… can’t live without them now. I also use my shoe bags as dirty laundry storage since the shoes make the bags smelly anyway. Still to invest in a luggage scale… the last one broke :) Thanks for the post!


  10. Marina Utami March 10, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Good tips especially with the cubes!

  11. Leigh Anne May 28, 2017 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Would you suggest a “clam – two sided” suitcase for a on the go 4 week Europe trip or rather a top opening suitcase, using packing cubes. I’m thinking about the space the middle opening suitcases take up in the small hotel rooms and if there are two of you it could be a squash?

    • Rachel Jones May 30, 2017 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      I absolutely like the clams best, I haven’t found a room so small it matters and worst case, I don’t think it would happen more than once or twice!

  12. Jean June 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Such great tips! It’s amazing how much more space you have and how little you need once you plan it all out. Even just a rough guide is better then no guide.

  13. Charmaine June 3, 2017 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I love this list! I always struggle with narrowing my luggage – and yes – I have tried it all! I have done the rolling thing, the flat thing, and any other strategy you read on the internet! I use scarfs instead of sarongs but they are so great for the cold/ hot! Thanks for this!

  14. Inge June 3, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    These are great tips! We travel as much as possible, but usually with a backpack. Still, I can use a lot of these tips. My girlfriend even more :) Thanks for sharing!

  15. The Family Voyage June 3, 2017 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    These are great tips! You should check out wet bags for some of your needs. Small for cords to keep them dry or toiletries in case they leak, medium for shoes so they don’t dirty your clothes or transporting a wet swim suit, large for stinky laundry!

    • Rachel Jones June 4, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      Hey! I just got a wet bag in Bali actually, I can’t wait to try it out!! such a good tip

  16. Karin June 4, 2017 at 1:30 am - Reply

    These are some good tips, except for the straws and shower caps. I avoid using more plastic than I have to. The cotton tote bags are my favorite thing though!

  17. Sally June 4, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Thanks for the tips! I think sarongs are the most versatile item a girl can own! Am waiting for you to show us a capsule travel wardrobe now!

  18. Jas @ My Suitcase Journeys June 4, 2017 at 8:43 am - Reply

    I LOVE packing cubes!!!!! They are so handy and I absolutely cannot live without them. I find a good trick for keeping smaller cords too is if you wear glasses/shades, you can put these in the case. Shades usually come with a box so even if you don’t wear glasses, you can use the case of a pair you’re not bringing with you on the trip. Save a few bucks on those packing cubes! ;)

  19. Leslie - MyAdventureBucket.com June 4, 2017 at 11:13 am - Reply

    These are great tips. I have never heard the clockwise, lay-flat packing system before and now I want to try it. I’m on a four month trip at the moment and I’m using a combination of packing cubes and compression bags but I’m really not in love with the system at all. I think the next time I have to pack up I’m going to try this idea!

    • Rachel Jones June 4, 2017 at 7:57 pm - Reply

      Yeah try it out – it kind of bothers me because things are evenly lined up and i’m weird like that, but overall it just saves a lot of space so it’s worth it!

  20. joiegahum30 August 30, 2017 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Keep calm and be always organized when travelling, i used roadeavour ID tag for my suitcase!

  21. […] 17 Travel Packing Hacks […]

  22. isha387 February 21, 2018 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    This is indeed a great list of hacks. Thanks for sharing!

  23. […] Once all your gear is neatly organised and displayed in front of you, begin packing it all in your bag. I start with the softer items at the bottom, and harder items up top as they will compress the softer ones below. With this first stage of packing you can realistically see if you have to much stuff or too big of items, this is a great travel packing hack! […]

  24. Gloria May 12, 2018 at 10:01 am - Reply

    That’s quite an interesting article Rachel, and I find it really useful, As a corporate traveler, packing things is literally hectic work, and I am going to follow your tips for my upcoming travels. Hope this parking trick could save some space.

  25. […] Nuotraukos ir šaltiniai: Pinterest, Hippie in Heels […]

  26. Kumar June 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Below #10 is the bag. Which bag is that? The one with orange lining and has bose headphones.

  27. […] References: Huffingtonpost, Hippie-inheels, Hopscotchtheglobe, Cosmopolitan, Travelchannel […]

  28. […] tends to get stressed out about packing and making everything fit in, then you should turn to smart packing hacks. Because there’s quite often a better way of doing things that you’ve never thought of before. […]

  29. morgan R effron February 8, 2019 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Do you use packing cubes when you travel with your backpack as well?

    • Rachel Jones February 9, 2019 at 2:58 am - Reply

      I do! Although, these days I rarely travel with my backpack.

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