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!
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 [easyazon_link identifier=”B008FVQNSE” locale=”US” tag=”Hipinhee-20″]Bumble & Bumble travel size[/easyazon_link]. 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.
4. PACKING CUBES
I cannot believe I only got [easyazon_link identifier=”B00ZQ3LE1A” locale=”US” tag=”Hipinhee-20″]ebags packing cubes[/easyazon_link] 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.
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 [easyazon_link identifier=”1607747308″ locale=”US” tag=”Hipinhee-20″]The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up[/easyazon_link], so 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.
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
- Try to stick to a color scheme to make it easier (notice my neutral color scheme for Morocco)
- Never take something you “might” wear that you’ve never worn before
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.
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 [easyazon_link identifier=”B00BXDPF7G” locale=”US” tag=”Hipinhee-20″]Delsey 19 inch carry-on[/easyazon_link] 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 [easyazon_link keywords=”luggage scale” locale=”US” tag=”Hipinhee-20″]luggage scale[/easyazon_link] 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:
- How to plan a trip from scratch without any stress with my step by step guide
- Read this article about what is and isn’t included in the world’s most popular travel insurance.
- Check if you need visas for where you are going and don’t leave home without them.
- Use my tips for booking a flight to get the best deal available.
- If you want to travel using Airbnb, make an account with this link to get $40 off your first stay!
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Planning your outfits is such a good idea. Especially when you are backpacking and have not so many clothes.
Need to get my hand on those cubes! They are amazing! xoxo
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 ;)
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. :)
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!
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!
I could never travel without them now, seriously!
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
why are airports so cold!? It’s a mystery!
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!
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
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!
Yes I use a shoe bag for dirty laundry sometimes too!
Thanks for sharing! Good tips especially with the cubes!
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?
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
Hey! I just got a wet bag in Bali actually, I can’t wait to try it out!! such a good tip
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!
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!
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! ;)
Very good idea! I will give that a try :)
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!
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!
Keep calm and be always organized when travelling, i used roadeavour ID tag for my suitcase!
This is indeed a great list of hacks. Thanks for sharing!
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.
Below #10 is the bag. Which bag is that? The one with orange lining and has bose headphones.
That is the slim backpack
Do you use packing cubes when you travel with your backpack as well?
I do! Although, these days I rarely travel with my backpack.
What is the brand and style of the bag/luggage pictured on the main pinterest page for for “17 Hacks to pack like a pro”? it is also shown between #10 & #11 and again “Pin these travel hacks for later” (looks like a black bag with orange interior from accessing front of bag) Thanks in advance.
My husband and I are flying to Italy in the fall. I don’t sleep well on planes, but I’m ordering one for each of us. Thanks so much for your post! Happy travels.
Love the hacks!
Thanks for explaining that we don’t need to pack soap because every hotel will have it there for us. I want to start taking my family on more trips so we can make fun memories together while my two kids are growing up. I want to find a themed family park to take them to, so your tips about how to pack for the trip will be really helpful!
Looooove my packing cubes. Don’t know how I lived without them
Soft sided vs clamshell is a constant battle for me. I prefer soft sided but you have to be careful with checked luggage. Often baggage may be left in open air loading areas, subject to rain, sleet, or snow. Nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to find clothes wet or damp. If you are checking soft sided bags, be sure to line the bag with plastic (e.g., a large trash bag.) Better safe than sorry.
Hey, That’s helpful. Thanks for those marvelous tips….
Wow! a piece of informative article in this article you cover all my question and it will make our trip more easy thanks Rachel Jones
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