Packing

35+ Expert Travel Packing Tips to Reduce Packing Stress

December 29, 2023

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READING TIME, 5 MINUTES

Are you a seasoned traveler? Or are you embarking on your first travel adventure? No matter your experience or travel style, packing for travel can be one of the most stressful parts of your journey.

That's why I’m here to help with 38 of the best travel packing tips for smart and efficient travel!

From learning how to squeeze more into your suitcase to making sure nothing spills, I’ve got you covered. Trust me! I’ve learned the hard way and am here to share what I’ve learned.

I want to make your upcoming trip stress-free and enjoyable so you can focus on exploring new destinations, meeting new people, and creating memorable experiences.

35+ Travel Packing Tips

There are many ways to pack for travel. Whichever way you choose, these travel packing tips will help. So here we go!

Woman easily packing a suitcase
  1. Choose travel-friendly fabrics that allow you to pack light. These include merino wool, polyester, nylon, Coolmax, and Lycra. Rayon, cotton, and linen are also great for travel if you don’t mind a few wrinkles.
  2. Pack heavy items at the bottom, closer to the wheels. This helps to keep your bag from tipping over.
  3. Put plastic dry-cleaning bags between clothes. Packing this way can help reduce wrinkles.
  4. Organize with packing cubes (or plastic bags) and a toiletry bag. This will help you spend less time looking for things and more time enjoying your vacation.
  5. Use compression bags if you’re bringing bulky clothes. Just remember that squishing in more clothes will add weight.
  6. Use a lightweight suitcase. At this stage in life, and with the cost of checking baggage, weight matters. July is an excellent option for hard-sided luggage (I’ve got the Carry-On Lite at around 4 pounds) and Tom Bihn for backpacks (I love my Western Flyer).
  7. Fold and roll clothes. This can save space.
  8. Organize in a way that makes sense to you. Depending on what you’re taking, you can put complete outfits together or just tops together or bottoms together...whatever system works for you.
  9. Try the bundle technique. Put small items in the middle and wrap larger items around this core. You can do this by size or by outfit.
  10. Pack an extra tote, especially if you're taking a long trip. It's great for a day of shopping, or you can use it to put your dirty clothes in to take to the laundry. On the way home, you can check your carry-on and bring the tote home filled with souvenirs. I’ve always found LeSportsac great for this.
  11. Always use a packing list. Sort items by what will go in your checked bag and what will go in your carry-on bag. Check it twice to be sure you don't forget anything! When you get home, make notes for the next trip so you'll know what adjustments to make next time.
  12. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane. This is the best way to save space in your luggage. You can also layer clothes. A good place to put heavy things is in your pockets.
  13. Pack the first thing you’ll be wearing at your destination on top. Jammies anyone?
  14. Bring clothes with multiple purposes or those that you can mix and match...all neutral bottoms, one color palette, dresses that work as swimsuit coverups, etc.
  15. Pack small items last so you can tuck them between other items.
  16. Fill every inch of space. Stuff socks in shoes. Then, put shoes in shoe bags or cover them with a plastic shower cap over each one to prevent dirt from getting on your clothes.
  17. Bring a small first aid kit. Bumps and bruises can be more dramatic with thinning skin so a few bandaids and ointment can save the day. Toss in a few pain relievers and anything else you need based on your own medical situation. Traveling for 2 weeks? Bring 3 weeks of meds. You just never know what might happen.
  18. Roll a belt. Tuck it in a collared shirt to keep the collar unwrinkled.
  19. Don’t roll a belt. Instead, lay it flat around the sides of the suitcase.
  20. Speaking of don'ts, don't bring extra clothes and just-in-case goodies. If you're not sure of the temperature, bring clothes you can layer. Want to pop in that extra tube of toothpaste, just in case? Remember, the rest of the world has stores.
  21. Pack small, flat items in the outside pocket of your suitcase. This includes things like camis, tank tops, slippers, etc. Put them in their own individual small bags to help with organization.
  22. Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Why tempt pickpockets?
  23. Pack travel-sized toiletries that don't take up much space. Another great way to save space is to decant your own into TSA-approved containers. I use GoToobs and GoTubbs by Humangear.
  24. Place bras on top of each other, line up the cups, and fold the bras in half. Put undies or socks in the cups to keep their shape and save space.
  25. Only bring makeup essentials. Many cosmetic lines have makeup palettes perfectly designed for travel, like the Jane Iredale Pure Simple Makeup Kit or the Whoosh Beauty Fold Out Face. You’ll love the Boomstick Trio if you have a more minimalist approach. It’s my go-to for travel. Keep these items together in a smaller bag.
  26. Pop in some dryer sheets. They help keep your clothes smelling fresh. You can use them if you do laundry.
  27. Bring along some Tide Stain Remover Pens. These are great for cleaning up small smudges.
  28. Pack a couple of plastic garbage bags. You’ll be amazed at the uses you’ll find for them. For example, you can use a bag for sitting on a wet bench, keeping your dirty laundry in, tossing over a suitcase (or you!) if you're caught in the rain, etc.
  29. Pack a sarong. Always useful for a picnic blanket, a coverup when visiting a temple, sitting on when you’re doing sit-ups on your hotel room floor…you are doing your sit-ups, aren’t you?
  30. Bring a few paper and binder clips. They’re helpful to hold papers together and to get your SIM card out of your phone.
  31. Bring a small microfibre towel. These are great for cleaning the inside of rental car windows, mopping up spills, and taking care of other travel annoyances.
  32. Pack a small clothesline. If you wash in your hotel sink, you can pack fewer clothes. This means less weight to haul around. Yay!
  33. Bring solid toiletries. Solid shampoo bars, soap, perfume, sunscreen, and toothpaste tabs save space for your liquids. You can find these at Lush or Ethique.
  34. Bring a scarf. You never know when it will be cold on the plane or in a restaurant.
  35. Did you purchase travel insurance? Or do you have coverage on your credit card? Keep your policy with other important documents in your personal item. You won't want to be digging for information in the middle of illness, an accident, or a travel interruption.
  36. Pack an empty water bottle. You can fill it once you're through security at the airport. Think of the plastic bottles you'll be saving. Our planet will thank you.🌎
  37. Bring a luggage scale. It’s hard not to find things to bring home when you travel. A luggage scale will help you avoid paying excess baggage fees because your bags are overweight.
  38. Leave a little bit of extra space for souvenirs or that little bit of somethin'-something' that you know you're going to find.

So there you have it... 38 of the best tips to help you pack for stress-free travel.

What are one or more of your best travel packing tips? Please leave them in the comments below.

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