As frequent travelers, we have learned a plethora of travel packing hacks over the years. Don’t worry if packing for your next trip has you stressed because it is a skill that comes with time.
We’re here to share some of our favorite travel packing hacks and tips with you and make your next trip a little less stressful.
Our Best Travel Packing Hacks!
1. Wear Your Heaviest Clothing on the Flight
One of my top travel packing hacks is to wear those heavy clothes when you fly. Especially if you are flying only carry on, as you do not waste precious space by jamming your most substantial items in your luggage.
If you’re traveling with items like hiking boots and a large jacket, make sure to wear the boots and carry the coat. These heavyweight items can consume valuable space and weight.
It seems simple, but we always make sure to have the most cumbersome and largest clothing items actually on us when we fly. This is most helpful in the winter months or when we’re on a ski vacation.
2. Invest in Packing Cubes
An excellent suitcase packing hack is to use cubes! Yes, we love packing cubes! They’re an amazing way to organize your luggage, and you can utilize all sorts of strategies. You can organize by clothing type, outfits, or color.
It makes finding things a breeze and saves you from folding and unfolding clothes all the time. A bonus is when unloading the bag, as you don’t have to worry about your clothes touching the dirty floor. Packing cubes make putting your clothes away in dressers a breeze too.
Word of warning, don’t substitute plastic bags for packing cubes as they trap moisture. The moisture can make for some funky clothes, especially in the summer or humid weather destinations.
3. Store Items in Shoes
An excellent travel packing hack is to utilize your luggage space with a pair of shoes. Shoes are often a weak point when you pack a bag as they’re heavy and can eat up a lot of space in your luggage. However, if you utilize a smart packing strategy, you can use the area within your shoes.
You can stuff your shoes with your socks or something glass like a bottle of perfume or cologne. Not only does this save space, but it can protect a fragile item in transit.
4. Invest in Insoles
Are your stylish shoes not the most comfortable when you travel? Instead of purchasing new shoes just for a trip, why not consider upgrading your existing ones with a pair of custom insoles.
A sarong is a go-to packing item as they’re wonderful for all kinds of travel. You can use a sarong as a blanket, cover-up, and a travel towel.
If you’re traveling around Southeast Asia, they are particularly useful as you’re often required to cover your shoulders and legs to enter a temple. The same goes when you enter the churches of Europe.
6. Get a Dirty Shoe Bag
We always travel with at least three pairs of shoes. Typically this is a pair of running shoes, a pair of Allbirds, dress shoes, and sandals. I will often wear a classic boot and then pack my lightweight running shoes in my luggage.
To protect my clothes and luggage, I like to use a nylon bag to store my dirty shoes. If you’re looking for a quick travel packing hack to find a suitable bag, take one of the disposable laundry bags from your hotel room.
7. Don’t Pack the Soap
No need to pack your soap and other toiletries as hotels always have this item. We rarely travel with easy toiletries such as soap and shampoo. The one exception is specialty products that we can only get at home such as face lotions, toothpaste, face wash, deodorant, etc.
If you are staying at an Airbnb, there is still the chance to buy it at a nearby grocery store. Which will save on your baggage weight when flying to and from your destination and ensure that there are no spills or shampoo leaks in your bag.
8. Toiletry Bags Are Gold
For the liquids and toiletries that we do pack in our bag, we always store them in a toiletry bag. It can save your clothes from a razor, makeup, toothpaste, or liquid. I use a regular toiletry bag from Tropicfeel, while Tasha prefers a hanging one.
Hanging ones are great to stay organized and keep your stuff off the counter. If you need a new bag check out our list of the best toiletry bags.
9. Bring the Right Luggage
Another one of my favorite suitcase packing hacks is touring with the right luggage. Unless you like paying for pricey overweight luggage fees, it’s best to start your trip with a lightweight suitcase. We have a post about our favorite carry on backpacks and the best carry on luggage if you need a new piece of luggage and some ideas.
We like bags that are stylish, lightweight, have four sturdy wheels, and provide simple organization pieces. Our favorite suitcases are always hardshell ones as you can tell by the photo above. If you want to learn more about backpacks, you can check out our post on backpacks for Europe.
10. Less is Always More
People tend to overpack. If you’re smart and pack light, it almost always leads to a more enjoyable trip. We like to adequately pack our bag and then go through it a day or two in advance.
The night before our trip, we take out what we absolutely don’t need. Learn to be pretty ruthless when packing. We’ve ditched countless items in hotel rooms simply because our bags were too full. While if we had left the item at home, we would still have our things.
11. Plan Before You Go
If you’re having a hard time with the travel packing hack above, try to plan your outfits in advance. If it’s a particular trip, you can even do a test run and have a mini fashion show with yourself before you leave.
Pack several different outfits and then mix and match, remember that black goes with everything and to stay away from colors that clash. You don’t have to avoid color! Pack so that you can intertwine outfits easily.
12. Use Small Bags
If you take a daily supplement, vitamins, or medicine regularly then portion them out for your trip and don’t take all the bottles. Pack it in a small bag or pill organizer to reduce bulk. Just make sure if it’s a prescription you have the label! If you’re looking for the perfect size try out little pill packets.
13. Keep Liquids Together
Carry-on travelers need to make sure all liquids are in a clear plastic bag. This will save a lot of time and energy in the security line when flying. Or maybe you like the TSA searching around your bag for a little bottle of contact solution? We do not! To avoid this we recommend applying for TSA precheck if you are flying in the United States. This makes airport security a breeze.
14. Have a Dirty Laundry Bag
You can’t talk about packing hacks without bringing a laundry bag. We like to travel with a small fabric or mesh bag for our dirty clothes. This keeps the rest of our clothes from getting dirty and smelly. It’s essential that you do not use a plastic bag or something that does not breathe as it will cause damp clothes to mildew.
If you have a wet bathing suit and don’t have time to dry it before packing, try using a waterproof bag like this one here.
15. Roll Your Clothes
We love to roll our clothes to save space. It’s a great way to pack a suitcase and one of our favorite packing hacks. Each item gets rolled and then placed in its respective packing cube.
When you open the packing cube, it also makes the selection a lot easier as you can see all the items from the top. As an added bonus it’s effective at wrinkle prevention!
16. Protect Fragile Items
An excellent packing hack is to consider what can break in your bag and take steps to protect it. I like to wrap my perfume bottle in a scarf and pack it in the center of my bag if I’m going to check my luggage.
If you are traveling with electronics like cameras or a laptop always make sure to carry them on. I do not trust the TSA with valuables and put all electronics and important items in an anti-theft backpack. Be extra careful of products like perfume or colored lotion in your checked luggage as they can damage your clothes if they explode. We recommend put them in a bag for when you are in transit.
17. Plastic Wrap Liquid Tops
Air pressure can change a lot in flight, which can result in toiletries exploding in your luggage. If you want to avoid items like sunscreen from exploding in your luggage, there is a simple packing hack. Cut small pieces of plastic, remove caps, cover the top, and replace the cap.
For smaller items we use Humangear travel tubes. These babies a soft and squeezable design permits and has easy dispensing with a no-drip silicone valve keeps the cap clean and doesn’t explode.
18. Pick up Some Dryer Sheets
Take a few dryer sheets and layer them in between your clothes. This is one of our favorite travel packing hacks to keep our clothes smelling nice. It’s much easier and more effective than packing a whole bottle of fabric freshener. Who doesn’t want to smell Tide fresh?
19. Try Out Wrinkle Release
We’ve tried the steam your clothes in the bathroom trick, but it never seems to work. And traveling with a fabric steamer takes up a lot of room in your suitcase. Instead, we like to travel with a bottle of wrinkle release and utilize any iron when we have the time.
20. Balance Weight in Your Suitcase
To keep your suitcase balanced, try packing your bulkiest items on the bottom of your wheeled luggage. You should also bear in mind the amount of weight in each half of a clamshell suitcase. It’s easy to end up with all the weight in one half of the bag. A poorly balanced suitcase is more difficult to roll and prone to falling over.
21. Keep In-flight Necessities Within Reach
If I have an outer pocket, I like to keep all of my flight essentials within easy reach. Things like headphones, lip balm, water bottles, an eye mask, travel pillow, or your favorite book should all be easily accessible in your carry on bag.
Think about what you’d like to have while stuck on a plane or bus and plan accordingly. It’s no fun to keep getting up and disrupting other passengers when you need something out of the overhead compartment. Check out our list of long-haul flight essentials to make travels more enjoyable.
22. Use a Clamshell Suitcase
We love clamshell hardside suitcases as they provide easy access to our luggage. Keep in mind that clamshell suitcases occupy a larger space in the hotel room, which is a negative when in small places. However, the ease and organization of a clamshell suitcase is the best, and almost all of our bags are clamshell designs.
23. Leave Space or Pack Old Clothes You Can Ditch
This is packing hack advice101. You’re going to want to bring souvenirs home, so you have two ways to make room in your luggage. Either you leave enough space in your bag to add a few more items, or you travel with a few older pieces of clothes you can leave behind.
24. Get Active
If you like to stay in shape when traveling, consider picking up fitness items that travel well. I like to travel with a jump rope and a workout band set. With those two items, I can do just about any workout with some space as hotel gyms can be limited and sad sometimes. Or if the trip is short enough, I make sure my hotel has a decent gym so I can ditch the gear.
25. Put Your Belt In a Shirt
This is one of the best packing hacks there is. If you’re traveling on business or like to dress smart place your belt inside your collar to keep it clean and stiff. This is great for a quick fix, but if you find yourself making a habit of it try out some collar stays.
26. Personalize Your Suitcase
I learned this the hard way when the airline lost my black suitcase, and when they thought they had found it, they brought me someone else’s black suitcase. If only I had had something to quickly identify it as mine, a bright tag would have even done the trick!
So my last packing hack for you is to personalize your suitcase. No one wants to lose their suitcase, and it is a lot more likely if your suitcase looks like hundreds of others. Try to pick out a unique, colorful, and stylish bag. Or you use a simple sticker, ribbons, or a luggage tag to differentiate your bag.