11 Packing Tips for Travel That Every Traveler Needs to Know

11 Packing Tips for Travel (the best packing tips for air travel)

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 precisely why we’ve put this comprehensive list of packing tips and tricks! Here the 11 Packing Tips for Travel (aka the best packing tips for air travel).

In this article we cover:

  • How to adopt a “Pack Lighter” mentality
  • How to pack smarter
  • Clothes folding tips
  • How to minimize wrinkles when packing
  • Luggage suggestions for better packing
  • Tech gear to pack
  • And much more

When you use these practical and useful packing tips and tricks we teach you, there’s no doubt you will be able to travel more more efficiently and stay focused on enjoying your trip!

Best Packing Tips for Air Travel

Without any further ado, here are the 11 packing tips for travel that you need to know:

Packing Tips for Travel #1: Always pack light – you need far less than you think you do

Packing Tips for Travel #1 Pack Light!

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!).

Less is More!

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 for travel (especially for air travel)!

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.

Pin This:

Packing Tips for Air Travel - Pack Smarter Not Harder

Packing Tips for Travel #2: Travel in layers (aka wear it on) – 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!

Minimize the shoes, too.

Best Packing Tips for Air Travel #3: Roll your clothes to reduce wrinkling

This is one of the many packing tips for travel 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. 

Packing Tips for Travel #4: Buy wrinkle free clothing whenever you can

Packing Tips: Always Buy Wrinkle Free Clothing

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 and then stowing them in a garment bag you can dramatically reduce the wrinkles.

Best Packing Tips for Air Travel #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.

Click to See Price

Downy’s wrinkle releaser can be a game changer for you and save you from having to get the ironing board out. It comes in travel size for handy packing in your toiletries kit.

(Are you getting the picture here…I hate wrinkles!)

Packing Tips for Travel #6: Get great 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.

Frankly, this is one of the more important packing tips for travel. You need good luggage – there’s no two ways about it!

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.

Packing Tips - use good luggage!

I personally use the TravelPro Crew 11 21″ model (see price) – and I can say without hesitation that I recommend this suitcase to any serious traveler. You can read my review of it here.

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! And it’s lighter!


Bonus Packing Tip: Packing Tips for Kids (we don’t got ’em, but we know who does)

Are you traveling with your kids??? If so, while we don’t talk a lot about kids travel, here’s a great (I do mean great!) video with packing tips for kids travel:


Ok…back to the the regular packing tips:

Packing Tips for Travel #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).

Check the Price!

I personally use Ogio products and they’ve never failed me. My current model is the Ogio Metro backpack and it is truly fantastic. Then, by following the packing tips in this article I can pack it appropriately – traveling lightly and efficiently!

Packing Tips for Travel #8: Skip the organizer cubes…they are stupid


For some reason, people have no idea how to pack their luggage correctly. Over packing 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!

Pin this (we’d love it!):

travel packing tips - pack like the pros do

Best Packing Tips and Tricks #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:

For the ladies, it might be worth buying a travel makeup/beauty kit:

Packing Tips for Travel #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 (see pic, below) 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.

Packing Tips for Travel #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 Best Packing Tips and Tricks

Ok, so there you have it! 11 Great Packing Tips for Travel that every traveler needs to know about! We hope these Best Packing Tips and Tricks have been helpful as you plan your next trip. When using these packing tips for air travel you can, no doubt, travel smarter which will make your trip far more enjoyable and less stress free. Trust us…we 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. And don’t forget to follow us on social media including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

By the way, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might like these great articles:

11 Packing Tips and Tricks That Every Traveler Needs to Know!

11 Useful Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know learn how to pack

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11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know and Use

Packing Tips for Travelers

Travel Packing Tips that will blow your mind

11 Travel Packing Tips for Travel Pros from Travel Pros

11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know - Travel Smart

11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know to Travel Smart

travel packing tips that don't suck

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55 comments on “11 Packing Tips for Travel (the best packing tips for air travel)

  1. Scott

    Good call on the carry-on. I have a carry-on Travel Pro garment bag, but it’s too wide to get down the ever narrowing aisles. Spinners are the way to go. It appears to currently be 64% off on Amazon (as of 11/18), so good timing!

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  17. Ranjan

    Great article, useful. I found having some granola bars, a water bottle and a sweater or jacket essential especially if you are grounded in a cold airport.

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  24. Beth

    I have to disagree on the packing cubes. I like the compression bags to pack more in less and I find them especially helpful when I am moving around a lot as I can just pull out what is needed for that day much more easily.

    I find it also helps when you pack multiple people in the same suitcase. You can keep things separate,

    1. The C Boarding Group Post author

      Hey Beth! Thanks for the comment and yeah, I can see your point. I just hate the extra hassle of putting them in a bag that I am going to put inside of another bag, then reverse the process. But, if I am really being honest here, I can see them serving a purpose (especially with multiple peeps in one bag…like kids – a problem we’ve run into on vacays). Thanks for reading and for your comment!

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