Living out of a suitcase doesn’t have to be all wrinkles and chaos. Nor should you need to hire a sherpa to slog your luggage through an airport. That’s why I’ve put this list of 11 Packing Tips that every traveler needs to know.
Learn how to pack smarter, travel more efficiently and enjoy your trip more with these great packing tips.
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1) Always pack light – you need far less than you think you do
Inexperienced travelers often think they need to bring much more than they really need to. Extra clothes, excessive toiletries, and so on. This often forces them to into a larger suitcase causing them to have to check their bag (which is a big no-no according to the #1 Travel Hack of All Time!).
The truth is by traveling light you can move more efficiently. No need to check bags (which causes delays on the start and end of your trip while you wait for your bags). Plus you run the risk of them being lost which definitely makes for a less than fun trip. That’s why learning how to pack light is the most important of all the packing tips!
So skip the extra pair of socks, those larger toiletries (and don’t forget to buy in bulk!), and anything else that you don’t absolutely need.
2) Travel in layers – to conserve suitcase space
If you still find yourself pressed for space, traveling in layers can buy you a little more room. For example, when traveling someplace cold, wear your heavy coat onto the plane instead of packing it in a suitcase. You can stuff the coat in the overhead bin.
You can also reuse a pair of jeans by re-wearing the jeans you flew out on the plane with one other day on the trip. When possible, always travel in layers to help conserve more space!
3) Roll your clothes to reduce wrinkling
This is one of the many packing tips I learned in the Marine Corps. By rolling your clothes (pants in particular) you can reduce wrinkles when unpacking and conserve space in your suitcase. For example, I can then pack socks or underwear around the
rolled pants in the bottom of the suitcase. This allows me to get more clothes into the suitcase.
And while it won’t completely eliminate wrinkles it can often mean you can skip ironing and simply use the “shower technique” to get any wrinkles out.
Pro tip: The “Shower Technique” – your hotel shower contains magical properties that can save you the drudgery of pulling your ironing board out. By simply hanging your wrinkled clothes in the bathroom, firing up at hot shower and shutting the door you can “steam” the wrinkles right out of your clothes. Usually doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.
4) Buy wrinkle free clothing whenever you can
I made the switch to wrinkle free clothing several years ago. Not all wrinkle free clothing is truly 100% wrinkle free, but it has improved significantly in recent years. In many cases, you may not need to iron your clothes at all if you’ve carefully chosen your clothes.
For example, I made the switch to a specific brand of Haggar Wrinkle Free dress pants a few years ago and I never (and I do mean never) have to iron them (especially when I roll them versus folding them).
Dress shirts can be a little more tricky, but by leaving them on the hangar and with the dry cleaning bag over them you can dramatically reduce the wrinkles.
5) Use some Downy De-wrinkler (Travel size)
For those especially unique clothes (maybe it’s that “must have dress that you wear so well or your favorite tie), you may still have to fight the occasional wrinkle.
6) Get good luggage (preferably a spinner)
For years I used sub-par luggage, always opting for the cheapest 2-wheeled carryon I could find. But their inferior quality led to frequent replacement after heavy use.
I finally made the switch to a quality “spinner-style” suitcase a few years back. I have never regretted it. A quality suitcase will last longer and be more useful for you during your trips.
If a pricier TravelPro is not your cup of tea, there are many other good options available.
I also prefer a softside carryon versus a hardsided suitcase because it has a little more “give” if I ever need to squeeze it into the overhead bin in a tight spot. With a hardside piece of luggage, you ain’t squeezing anything!
7) Get a good backpack (Or fancy travel purse)
For many years I used a rolling briefcase (you know, the ones with the extendable handle and slot for your laptop). But after spending some significant time in New Year City I quickly realized rolling anything in the City was insanity.
I switched to a backpack instead and not only did my City experience improve, my whole travel experience in general improve. It was easier to maneuver in the airport, and put much less stress on my arms – shifting the weight to the ever so sturdy back. A backpack will also give you a little extra room to carry more items that may not have fit in your suitcase (I often carry my running shoes in my backpack).
I personally use Ogio products and they’ve never failed me. My current model is the Ogio Metro backpack and it is truly fantastic.
8) Skip the organizer cubes…they are stupid
For some reason, people have no idea how to pack their luggage correctly. Overpacking issues aside, people also can’t layer or fold their clothes correctly. Or they don’t know how to properly live out of their suitcase.
Enter the packing cube. An obnoxious idea designed to help you “stay organized” on your trip. But I say, “how hard is it to find stuff in your bag?” It’s a suitcase, not your entire closet. And hotels provide plastic laundry bags to stow dirty clothes in. Learn how to pack smarter instead.
Packing cubes simply take up unnecessary space in your bag and add extra weight (a little, but still extra). Anyone giving you packing tips that include “use a packing cube” – well, just ignore ’em! Skip the packing cubes!
9) Pack the right toiletries (and buy in bulk)
My wife has an incredible amount of beauty products. Special conditioners, lotions, etc. In my opinion…they are all superfluous…but whatever. Whether you are a man or women, make sure you know what the TSA guidelines are for liquids – including toiletries and pack accordingly. It’s likely you can find your toiletries in travel size and if you can’t, then buy a TSA friendly travel container to pour your favorite conditioner into…
I also prefer to buy my travel toiletries in bulk to save money (one of my favorite packing tips!). A regular tube of toothpaste my cost you 2.99, while a travel toothpaste tube might run you .99 for 1/5 of the toothpaste. Save yourself some money and buy them in bulk!
Here are few bulk toiletries that I use:
- Toiletries Bag: HappyDavid PU Leather Travel Toiletry Bag (Black)
- Toothpaste: 36 Pack of Crest Travel Toothpaste
- Deodorant: 6 Pack Old Spice, Fiji
- Hair Gel: 6 Pack, Got2B Glued
- Shaving Cream: 3 Pack, Barbasol Shaving Cream
- Aftershave: 6 Pack, Gillete After shave gel
For the ladies, it might be worth buying a travel makeup/beauty kit:
10) Pack the right electronic / techie gear
Chargers, headphones, and other techie gear can make the difference in having a good trip or a great trip. Always pack good techie gear!
Get some good headphones – preferably over the ear wireless bluetooth (like the Beats Headphones which are pricey but oh so worth the $$). But also get some backup wired headphones (ear bud style) in case your main headphones break or lose power mid-flight.
Also, buy a backup portable power charger. Nothing worse than your phone or tablet dying mid flight.
Speaking of phones/tablets, make sure to download some movies / TV shows for the flight. No need to pay for internet or pay for a movie. Binge watch Mad Men instead!
I also recently invested in a magnetic cell phone car mount that clips onto the air vents of my rental car. It’s small enough to not take up too much room in my backpack and allows me to more easily navigate when I am driving to my destination.
11) Pack your suitcase in layers – if possible
My final packing tip for you is layering your clothes in your suitcase. By layering clothes you can live right out of suitcase and save a little time! I know a lot of folks who fully unpack their suitcase after checking into to the hotel. Not me…I may remove an item or two, but for the most part I leave items right in the suitcase. Saving me time and hassle.
Final Thoughts on the 11 Packing Tips
Ok, so there you have it! 11 Great Packing Tips that every traveler needs to know about! I hope these Packing Tips have been helpful as you plan your next trip. By packing smarter you can make your trip more enjoyable and less stress free. Trust me…I travel every week! 🙂
What are your favorite packing tips? Join the conversation and share your best packing tips with us on social media, or leave us a comment, below.
Don’t forget to check out these other great articles on Travel Hacking:
- Top 5 Travel Hacks for the First Time Business Traveler
- 105 Business Travel Tips Every Traveler Needs to know
- 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Business Travelers – Find the Best Gifts
- The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business