Travel Tips

How to Pack Like A Pro!

22 COMMENTS

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):

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

Happy packing!

Please be advised that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission or store credit if you make a purchase using those links.  I only recommend products that I already use and love (and would be linking to either way). This does not cost you any extra when you make a purchase but helps support the running of this blog. I very much appreciate your support!

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Nicola
    August 27, 2017 at 12:02 PM

    I’d manage to pack everything in a carry-on suitcase, but I always travel with my camera backpack which is heavy enough and so I always need to check in 🙁 Thanks for sharing your tips. I definitely need the travel cubes!

    • Reply
      Sierra
      August 27, 2017 at 2:17 PM

      Ahh, the camera struggle is real! I don’t have a nice DSLR or any major camera equipment yet (but want to transition soon). I’m currently using a Sony A5100, which does the job, but doesn’t capture as well as a DSLR obviously. That’s a bummer that it forces you to check baggage, especially with the high baggage fees these days (oy). I can’t recommend packing cubes enough! There are some more affordable versions on Amazon – definitely worth trying out! Thanks for reading Nicola!

  • Reply
    Natalie Anastasia
    May 6, 2017 at 6:26 PM

    Um where have packing cubes been all of my life?! Officially need them! I love these tips – having a luggage scale has been crucial for me

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 6, 2017 at 8:19 PM

      GIRL. You will never go back. They are life-changing! Buying my cheapo luggage scale has saved me SO much money, especially on overseas travel…it’s worth every penny (and more) right?!

  • Reply
    Andrada
    May 6, 2017 at 4:50 AM

    Very useful informations and tips. I have never heard about packing cubes but I am going to check them soon. I always wash my clother in public laundry. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 6, 2017 at 11:56 AM

      I’m glad I could introduce the wonder of packing cubes into your life! I hope they help if you try them out! Washing clothes while traveling can be a bit challenging sometimes, but it’s all part of the adventure, right? Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Jenna
    May 6, 2017 at 1:05 AM

    Great tips! I’m always so crazy about packing light and fitting everything into a small bag–carry on is the best! Totally agree about packing cubes. They are such a great invention and I couldn’t live without them! I always try to remember a dirty clothes bag but seem to forget it more often than not–I’ll have to make a better note of it I think!

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 6, 2017 at 11:53 AM

      YES (two hands up for carry-on packing)! Packing cubes are SO helpful – I can’t imagine traveling without them now! I feel ya on forgetting that dirty laundry bag…easy to space out while putting everything together, isn’t it?

  • Reply
    Only By Land
    May 4, 2017 at 11:55 PM

    There are some very useful tips here and you’ve inspired me to roll my clothes next time. I see people requested this post, I’m going to request a post from you, something that really annoys me about travel, washing. You mentioned bringing the bag for dirty washing but do you have tips on washing whilst traveling. I’m terrible at it!

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 5, 2017 at 8:06 AM

      Ooh, that’s a great post idea! I’ll definitely do a post about that soon – it can be such a struggle on the road, right? I know there are lots of cool new methods and products people are using to keep their clothes clean while traveling – I’ll have to do some more research since it’s been awhile since I’ve done it myself! Very good idea, thanks James!

  • Reply
    lazy travelers
    May 2, 2017 at 6:37 AM

    packing cubes are sooo necessary. but now that ashley is traveling with a little one, gone are the days of carry-on only. GONE. waaaah.

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 2, 2017 at 1:28 PM

      Traveling with tiny people is so intense – how do they have THAT much stuff? Blows my mind sometimes. I can imagine carry-on packing with a kiddo would be pretty challenging!

  • Reply
    Emma Shearer
    May 1, 2017 at 8:29 PM

    Interesting blog post. I usually just chuck everything in one by one and then struggle to close it so will definitely give these tips a go!

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 1, 2017 at 11:32 PM

      I think that’s how most people pack, to be honest! The chuck and go method – ha! Hopefully these tips will help you develop a smoother packing plan 🙂 It’s a process, for sure!

  • Reply
    Mica
    May 1, 2017 at 4:25 PM

    These are such good tips, thanks for sharing! I’m going to tweet this as I think it’s really useful.

    I definitely need to get some packing cubes I think!

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend and are having a good start to the week 🙂

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 5, 2017 at 8:08 AM

      Thanks for reading Mica! I’m so glad you found some value in these tips 🙂 And thanks for sharing it! Packing cubes are such a life-saver, seriously. I highly recommend checking them out! You can always start with lower-priced cubes from Amazon if you just want to try some out. Happy weekend!

  • Reply
    Jenn
    May 1, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    Packing cubes?! How have I never heard of these? You’re the master.

    • Reply
      Sierra
      May 1, 2017 at 12:08 PM

      They are THE BEST. I don’t know how I survived without them before! They make keeping track of things so much simpler, especially when you’re constantly taking things in and out of bags while traveling! I’m a convert.

  • Reply
    Monica
    April 30, 2017 at 9:55 PM

    Oh my God yes, packing cubes are life. I always travel with a backpack for the freedom of it and as I just repurpose my top loading hiking backpack for travel the packing cubes let me fully unpack and repack in seconds without messing up my organization. Seriously, people listen to this advice, it’s good.

    • Reply
      Sierra
      April 30, 2017 at 10:08 PM

      All hail packing cubes! Seriously, right? So much easier to stay organized, it’s life-altering. You’re even more ahead of me in the packing game! Traveling with a backpack only sounds incredible. I can imagine how freeing it is to have so little to keep track of! Hopefully one of these days, I’ll get on your level 🙂

  • Reply
    Mari Lynch
    April 30, 2017 at 3:13 AM

    Great tips. I’ve never used packing cubes and look forward to trying them. And #6 makes so much sense! Yes, please put Packing Tips, Part 2 on your to-do list of things to write for us. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sierra
      April 30, 2017 at 8:51 AM

      Thanks for taking the time to read through them! I’ll have to show you the magic of packing cubes in person next time I’m in CA. They’re fantastic. And noted – one vote for a packing hacks Part 2!

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