Tired of having wrestling matches with your suitcase every time you want to travel? I know I’m not the only one that has a history of jumping on my luggage so I can close it. Over the past 2 years, I have traveled on many flights including 5 different round trips from New York to Europe. That is a total of 10 long plane rides that each required me to pack a different suitcase. It’s time to say buh-bye to those awkward moments at the luggage drop off area when the attendants tell you that your luggage weighs more than the maximum weight that they can accept for safety reasons. Uhmm, yea a funny story is that this happened to me – I had to empty half my suitcase AND pay $100 before they would take it! I’ve learned to pack a lot more efficiently since then…. No more stress at the airport for me. Enough is enough!
Here are my top 10 packing tips:
Make a list: Cut the non-essentials.
Often times, it helps to make a list of everything you want to bring. Then, make it a goal to cut that list in half by eliminating items that are not completely necessary to have. I know, I know eliminating half sounds like a lot. However, if you are truly looking to minimize the amount that you pack for a trip, this is the easiest way to do so. If you are like me, you will find that you often plan to bring so much more than you should. By making a list and cutting the non-essentials, you will discover exactly what you really need to bring with you and what you can ditch. If cutting your list in half is too easy, repeat this step until there is nothing left to cut! If you are unsure about if you should bring something, odds are the answer is no.
Wash clothes while traveling.
For longer trips, find out if there is a washing machine where you are staying or a nearby laundromat. If none of these are options, you could even resort to hand washing your clothes in the sink and hanging them to dry! I know this step isn’t ideal for everyone. For those that are willing to make the effort, however, this can really save a ton of space when packing. You could easily get away with packing just five outfits for a two-week vacation instead of twelve! Additionally, you will have less choices to make about what to wear each day and more time for having fun. Yay!
Bring clothes that can be worn more than once.
Let’s face it, none of us wash all our clothes after every time we wear them. If doing wash on vacation is not really your thing, then bringing clothes that you can wear more than once is the method for you. I used to bring several clothes options with me for each day of a trip. I’d end up not wearing half the clothes that I packed at all! This was neither smart nor efficient. The smartest way to pack is to bring clothes that can be worn several times throughout your trip without needing a wash. Jeans, leggings, tank tops, and sweaters are good examples. What you are wearing is not important when making memories, after all.
Follow a 2 pairs of shoes maximum rule!
This is especially hard to say for someone like me! I love my shoes, and I love matching my shoes with my outfits. However, shoes take up the most space when packing. Therefore, I have made a rule for myself when going on trips to stick to packing a maximum of two pairs of shoes. While what type of shoes I bring varies depending on what type of trip I’m going on, I usually stick to bringing one pair of durable walking shoes and one pair of “cute” shoes that I’ll wear to dinner but not for walking. If you have a pair of shoes that serves both purposes, even better! Limiting the number of shoes that I bring on trips has definitely saved me a ton of space when packing.
Limit the amount of electronics you bring.
When I pack for a trip, electronics are notorious for becoming space hoarders. Electronics are easy to throw inside a suitcase thinking they may come in handy at some point when you travel. In reality, I usually never use any of the electronics I pack with that logic. I cannot tell you how many times I have brought my laptop with me on a trip and never used it. Additionally, I always remind myself that I do not need to bring both my straightener and curling iron with me when I travel. Before lugging an endless number of electronics with you on your next trip, make sure you ask yourself and honestly answer this question: do you really need it?
Roll your clothes.
I have found that rolling my clothes before putting them in my suitcase makes them a lot easier to pack and saves me so much space in the long run. To avoid wrinkles, take time to roll your clothes and learn how to do so effectively. Here is a great guide to do so. Not only do I roll my clothes, but I also tie them with a rubber band or hair tie so they stay tightly packed. I love using hair ties for this so that I always have some when I travel. Be careful not to wrap the hair tie too tight because it can cause wrinkles if you do. Rolling clothes even takes just about the same amount of time as folding everything. You’ll wonder why you weren’t doing this all along!
Have a prepacked toiletry bag and only bring travel sized items.
I can’t lie; I’m stealing this tip from my husband. Shh! I used to bring my entire bottle of shampoo and hairspray with me when I would go on trips. However, I have been enlightened to how convenient and smart it is to actually use travel sized items. You save a lot of suitcase space when you only bring the amount of toiletries that you actually need. Another great tip is to keep these items in a prepacked bag designed specifically for traveling. I love that I do not have to worry that much about toiletries when packing anymore! I just need to remember to pack one bag that is already filled with everything I’ll need to keep clean from travel sized deodorant to travel toothbrushes. This method is organized and will save you a lot of space and hassle in the long run.
Wait until you get to your destination to buy the non-essentials.
By non-essentials, I mean snacks, sunscreen, beach balls, etc. I once filled half of my suit case with snacks to keep in my room before a trip. While the idea was not bad, the reality is that I could have saved a lot of space in my suitcase had I just waited until I arrived at my destination to purchase all those goodies. If you are going to a tourist destination or on a beach vacation, odds are that there will be somewhere nearby where you are staying to make your purchases
Invest in… packing cubes!
When I got married, a woman at my work gave me packing cubes as a gift knowing that I’d be traveling a lot with my husband. At first I thought it was a little strange that anyone would want these – they seemed like such a hassle to me. However, I am here to assure you that these changed my entire packing experience and made it so much easier.The first time I used these, I rolled all my clothes using the method above, and tied them with hair ties so my clothes would stay rolled. In the smallest one alone, I could fit 2 dress shirts for my husband as well as 2 pairs of dress pants, 2 ties and 2 pairs of socks. You can only imagine how many things I was able to pack efficiently in the largest one (which, btw, fits perfectly in my carry on suitcase). Another added benefit is that these cubes stack like blocks into your suitcase. If you are really looking to save a lot of space when packing, this is my number one method that I recommend.
I have this set of packing cubes from my coworker if you are looking to buy some. There are plenty to choose from on this site as well as all over the web!
Be organized when packing.
Don’t just throw everything into your suitcase. Instead, take the time to neatly organize where you are putting everything. To optimize the space that you have, it is important to make sure everything has its own spot where it fits nicely. Think of the space inside your suitcase as a game of Tetris and all your belongings are the blocks. If something is not working, do not be afraid to take things out and start over. Your finished product should make you excited about your upcoming trip not frantic and stressed. when you arrive to your destination, you will be happy and thankful that you took the time to organize your suitcase when you open your suitcase and see all your belongings neatly packed together. Not to mention, organization will save you a ton of space!