This past week, I reached out on Facebook and Twitter to see what people would be most interested in reading, and packing hacks won by a landslide! (Side note: follow me there for sneak peeks at upcoming content or to give your input – I’d love to hear from you!) So here they are: my tried and true tips for efficient packing, along with the reveal of my all-time favorite carry-on luggage. I’m more than happy to answer any additional questions in the comments or via email if they come up!
If you’re like the majority of the population, your packing process probably involves throwing a bunch of clothes on your bed and then spending hours (or minutes, depending on how much of a rush you’re in!) haphazardly trying to fold and shove your junk into your suitcase. But I’m here to tell you: there is a better way, y’all! I used to scroll through Pinterest lusting after all those perfectly packed suitcases crafted by hyper-organized people, thinking I could never be one of them. But over the years, I’ve practiced the craft of packing and refined my methods so that now I finally feel like I can whip a suitcase into shape with little to no effort at all.
Without further ado, here are some of my top tips for packing like a pro (even when you don’t feel like one):
- Always pack in a carry-on suitcase! I’ll explain more about why I advocate carry-ons only in a future post, but for now, suffice it to say that carry-ons are your friend, and everything you need can fit in one with the proper packing tools and techniques! Not having to check a bag is incredibly freeing (in more ways than one) and totally worth investing a little time into refining your packing process. More on this soon!
- Divide and conquer! Let me tell you, having a bunch of different pouches and compartments is a life-saver while packing (and while traveling!) because it keeps things so well organized. For instance, the Travelon backpack that I bring on airplanes has plenty of compartments such a padded laptop pocket, small zippered section inside the top flap, a big zippered side compartment, a side pocket for water bottles, etc. To divide things up even further, I use pouches and small bags (think pencil case sized or small cosmetics bags) to separate things by use. If there’s enough interest, maybe I’ll do a “What’s In My Travel Backpack” type of post to fully explain how I use the space – let me know in the comments if you’d like to see something like that!
- A good carry-on can make or break your packing process. I bought this beauty by Delsey (I think it was only around $70!) before my big European adventure back in the Spring of 2015, and it is the best. This one is the updated version currently available on Amazon. Mine has 2 large compartments inside (separated by a zipper, which is so helpful), a sturdy handle and smooth rolling wheels that have somehow lasted through cobblestone streets, hundreds of stairs, and lots of rough handling. It has seen me through many an international and domestic flight and held up beautifully. It looks like Delsey doesn’t sell this model anymore, but they have tons of other great options on their site if you’re in the market for a new suitcase!
- PACKING CUBES. These little guys will change. your. life. I can’t emphasize just how valuable packing cubes are. I started using them about 4 years ago and I’m never going back. My favorites are by Eagle Creek, because of the quality of their product, but there are plenty of other, cheaper brands out there that will do just fine if you’re not in the mood to pony up the $ for Eagle Creek. I will say that their Pack It cubes have lasted incredibly well despite me treating them roughly throughout my travels, and they’re definitely worth the money. I use them to separate items by category (rolled up underwear in one cube, all my socks in another, tank tops in another, etc.) and it makes staying organized on the road (and getting dressed!) infinitely easier, not to mention all the physical space it saves!
- Slow your roll! I am a huge proponent of rolling your clothes for packing. I’ve conducted various scientific studies (okay, it was just me testing out packing methods in my apartment, alone) and rolling your clothes up is the way to go. Saves SO much space! Try it – I promise you it’s worth the little bit of time it takes to roll them.
- Pack enough undergarments for a small army. Bring more underwear and socks (plus tank tops, bras, leggings, whatever you wear the most) than you think you could possibly need! You won’t regret it. Why? You can wear the same shirt or dress for multiple days without it getting gross, and with plenty of fresh underthings, this will cut down (or cut out) the need to do laundry while traveling!
- Bring a dirty clothes bag! Something light and compact will do. When your clothes are ready to rest (AKA need a wash), you can pop them into your dirty clothes bag and keep them separate from your clean clothes, which cuts down on the amount of time you spend rummaging through your suitcase. More time for exploring!
- You only need a couple pairs of shoes. You’re no Imelda Marcos! One pair of versatile sneakers and one pair of comfortable boots (in the fall/winter) or airy sandals (in the spring/summer) should be plenty. This will free up so much space in your luggage for goofy souvenirs! Disclaimer: I am not a fashion blogger, and I don’t own a bunch of cute shoes. I realize that cutting down on the shoes you pack can be tough, so this is more of a personal choice than anything else. Just a friendly suggestion!
- Always bring extra Ziploc bags! I won’t regale you with the sad, sad story of the time the Brits cruelly removed my brand new fancy lotion from Paris from my carry-on…let’s save that for another time. But having extra (appropriately sized!) bags for your liquids – especially in case of leaks and spills – will save you in a pinch, believe me.
- Buy a luggage scale! If you’re packing in a carry on and flying internationally (particularly on multiple budget airlines), you’ll have to check each airline’s weight limits and make sure you’re well under them to avoid the insanely high baggage fees. This is the scale I have, which I bought on Amazon for less than $10 – it definitely pays for itself in all the money you save on overweight baggage fees.
I could go on for days (let me know if you want to see a Part 2!), but I’ll stop myself here for now. These are some of the basics! I hope that some of the above tips are helpful to you as you prepare for any upcoming trips – or simply daydream about your next vacation. It may sound silly, but having a neatly packed, well organized suitcase can transform your travels and allow you to spend less time digging around and more time digging into your new surroundings! Which is what we all want in the end, isn’t it?
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