Searching for packing hacks? In our fast-paced reality, travelling is one of the most precious experiences life has to offer. Exploring new places, revisiting favourite towns and seeing sights, browsing museums, or simply relaxing; every thought of travelling always seems so ideal. Except for one thing: packing.
Admit it: if you could just skip to the part where you’re already at the airport, or waiting for your train, you’d do it. Well, we can’t pack your luggage for you, but we’ve got you covered: below is the ultimate packing guide for 2021, a list of 50+ travel packing hacks that we hope will make your life easier.
Make a List
It goes without saying that you can’t pack while in a rush ―you’ll definitely forget something important! With last-minute packing, you’re going to wrinkle all your shirts, make a mess of your toiletries or take unnecessary stuff with you.
So, make sure to prepare a checklist of the things that you need to do and save enough time to pack your things, at least 24 hours before your flight.
Buy a Luggage Scale
An unexpected surprise every traveller has faced is an overweight suitcase ―and the resulting upcharge. If you travel a lot, make sure that your suitcase does not exceed the 50-pound limit by investing in a luggage scale. Better safe than sorry!
Choose The Right Luggage
Whether we’re talking about a small carry-on bag, or a large suitcase, it’s important that you have the right kind of luggage. A travel backpack or a wheeled suitcase are the go-to options for carry-ons; backpacks are versatile and easy to carry, and a wheeled suitcase will spare your back and arms the pain of dragging it around. Of course, it’s all about taste and preferences.
Carry-ons should fit in most spaces, so make sure to avoid bulky backpacks or heavy wheeled suitcases. Keep in mind that backpacks are hard to organize since they don’t come with a lot of different compartments and the space is limited. A wheeled suitcase on the other hand, especially a hard-shelled one, would allow you to properly organize all your clothes and items, and keep fragiles safe. However, a hard-shelled wheeled suitcase will not fit well in the overhead bin and can be rather expensive.
Remember your Suitcase
Since you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the following situation: you see dozens of suitcases pass through the conveyor belt, and none of them is your own. What to do?
For your next trip, make sure you’ve made your suitcases unique. The tag with your info is not always enough; you could add a personal touch, such as a colourful accessory or a bunch of travel tickets, to easily spot your bag and prevent others from mistaking it as their own. Plus, you can go for a bold choice of a suitcase, like a bright pink or a neon green. That will separate you from the rest, for sure.
Scan/photograph all your important documents
It’s called the digital age for a reason! There’s no need to carry all your documents all the time, and it’s a shame if you miss your flight because you’ve forgotten your ticket at home. Make sure to take pictures or scan all your important documents and save them on your phone, ready to go. There are dozens of apps available for download!
The same goes for any booking confirmations and reservations you might have. If anything goes wrong, you’ll have the data backed up on your mobile.
Utilize All Available Space
Now for the suitcase packing hacks: make sure to utilize all crevices and corners, and look for hidden spaces where you can fit small items. For example, you can store little items inside your jacket pockets, or your jeans!
Additionally, another hack for easy packing is to wear clothes with pockets to keep items such as your wallet or snacks and have them at hand for easy access.
Wear or Carry your Heaviest Clothes
Are you travelling from the Mediterranean to Iceland? Don’t try to fit your heavy coat inside your suitcase; it may fit, but there’s not going to be space for much else available. It’s best to wear your heavier clothes on the trip, in order to save room in your luggage ―and if it’s too hot to wear an oversized jacket on your way, you’ll have to carry it.
It might seem like a bad idea now, but think of the money you’ll save at check-in: heavy luggage costs extra. Plus, you might as well shed the extra layer on the plane to use your jacket as a pillow or put it in the overhead compartment.
And don’t forget the shoes: if your bulkiest shoes are comfortable enough to wear on your trip, put them on!
Skip the shoes
Speaking of shoes, they’re the heaviest piece of clothing. We advise you not to pack too many pairs ―more than an extra pair to the ones you have on seems like too many.
Two pairs of shoes should be more than enough when going for a trip; just make sure one of them is comfy!
Leave Space for Souvenirs
Packing your suitcase to the brim might seem satisfying at first, but it means only one thing: you’ve got no room left for souvenirs!
Returning from a trip and bringing back gifts for your loved ones is the perfect ending to any vacation, and you don’t want to miss out on that. Make sure to leave some extra space inside of your bag ―you might even fill it with bubble wrap, in case you want to bring back something fragile.
Check the forecast
No matter where you’re going, always check the weather before you pack! For example, you might be going to a Greek island, so you’re only packing swimsuits and T-shirts ―and then you arrive in the middle of a storm, shaking from the cold. You’d wish you had checked the forecast beforehand, right?
Plan Your Outfits
This is a travel packing hack for those who are not very good with spontaneous fashion choices.
Throwing any clothing item you can find in front of you inside your suitcase does not promise good combinations will come up; so make pairs, plan your outfitts, and make sure that you can mix and match.
You can’t bring just any clothes with you, but you can’t bring all of your clothes with you either. And what does that mean? You’ll have to choose your favourites: bring only the clothes you’ll definitely wear ―not that new blouse that doesn’t suit you very well.
Rolling Vs. Folding
This is a debate that dates back decades: is rolling your clothes better than folding them? Well, the answer is simple: do whatever suits you best. However, in general, rolling is best for the thinner items, while jeans and sweaters can only be folded.
Pack Inside Out
There’s a third option, besides rolling and folding: pack your clothes inside out, in order to avoid wrinkles!
This doesn’t promise professional results, but it helps if you’re packing suits.
Bring plastic and zip lock bags
Those small plastic bags seem like they only belong in the kitchen, but no! They’re incredibly versatile and can do wonders for easy packing: they’re ideal for storing your worn underwear or wet towels.
Shower Caps on Shoes
You can’t just put your shoes in between your clothing! No matter how well-washed they are, shoes need to be separated from the rest of your items. Utilize those weird shower caps offered in hotels to pack your shoes ―they are great to put around the soles, ensuring cleanliness!
Stash Items in Shoes
Shoes might be difficult to pack, but they’re necessary. Why not use them as a container as well?
This is a packing hack known to the most experienced travellers: stashing small items, rolled-up socks or deodorant bottles inside your shoes can save up a lot of room!
There are different ways to do this: put your trousers at the bottom, sweaters on top, underwear in the corners ―or, categorize your clothes by day, or by arranged outfit, so that you have them ready and within easy reach. This way, it will be a little harder for you to mess everything up and have to re-pack in the middle of your trip.
Utilize Clothes as Protection
Whether we’re talking about souvenirs or fragile stuff you need to carry in your suitcase, ask yourselves: do I really need bubble wrap? Wrapping your fragile items inside your linens and towels can be convenient and safe, and it definitely saves you some extra space!
Put together a basic first aid kit
If you’re taking prescription medication, you’ll probably remember to pack it. But some basic medical supplies should be a priority when packing for any trip: it’s good to have some pain killers, cough drops and stomach tablets at hand, along with some plasters.
Mind your Wires
If you haven’t invested in Bluetooth headphones yet, you’ll need to take care of your wired earpieces, as they tend to become an annoying knot. Wrap them around office binder clips, and they’ll stay tangle-free, sparing you the trouble of having to untangle the mess every now and then. The same goes for all chargers and other cords.
Pack a Sunglasses Case (Not for Sunglasses)
Another way to keep your cords and wires organized and tangle-free is by storing them in a hard sunglasses case, separating them from other items.
Don’t bring your home shampoo ―it’s probably huge, and you may have to leave it at the airport. But even if you don’t have to worry about airport security, make sure to bring only travel-sized personal care products with you. You’re not going to use more than a small amount of night cream, so why bring a whole bottle?
Skip Unnecessary Cosmetics
A classic case of over-packing is often caused by unnecessary cosmetic products. Besides only bringing travel-sized personal care and hygiene products, make sure to only bring the ones you’re definitely going to use.
Speaking of cosmetics, you don’t want to see your eye shadow crumbled to pieces and scattered around your other products. A discreet packing hack is the use of cotton swabs: place them inside your compact cosmetics and spare yourself the trouble!
Solids Over Liquids
As far as soap and shampoo go, there are solid alternatives that can save you the trouble when going through security ―given that liquids are always mistaken for dangerous substances. Plus, it’s a more environmentally friendly solution!
Packing a backpack or a purse with all your in-flight essentials like your phone, wallet, chapstick, etc will ensure you won’t have to go through all the stuff inside your carry-on right before your flight takes off. Have them in a bag, ready to fetch at all times.
You can’t leave out a small tote or plastic bag for worn and dirty clothes; if not separated, the smell will rub off on the rest of your clothes. The same goes for wet swimsuits, if you don’t have time to dry it before packing ―you can try using a waterproof bag.
If your suitcase doesn’t have a built-in shoe compartment, make sure to have a bag for your dirty shoes. And if you have no bags available for use, you can try those nylon disposable laundry bags from your hotel room.
Waterproof your Bag
You can make the best out of things you’re packing anyway. Rainboots go on the bottom, plastic bags are placed on the sides, and a waterproof jacket is spread across the top; now your luggage can take as much rain as possible, and your clothes will be ―somewhat― spared!
Balance Weight In Your Suitcase
In order for your suitcase to be balanced, try packing the bulkiest items at the bottom; a suitcase that hasn’t been balanced properly and has more weight on one half will be difficult to carry, and easy to fall over and delay you.
Always take the different settings into account; if you’re travelling abroad, your chargers might not work, as the plugs tend to differ from country to country. Make sure that you check the designs beforehand, and be adequately equipped.
Universal Charging Station
If you’re carrying a lot of gadgets and different devices, a universal charging station would be ideal for you ―even better if you’re travelling with kids. You can charge multiple devices at a time, and have built-in adapters so you’re ready for any situation.
The golden rule of packing hacks is this: always be prepared for the worst. Put at least one change of clothes in your carry-on or your bag of essentials, so that you have an extra outfit to wear in case your checked-in luggage gets lost during the trip and won’t be arriving until the next day.
Skip the Towels
There’s bound to be towels at the hotel or the Airbnb you’re staying at, so you don’t have to waste precious room bringing your own. However, if you have serious reasons to rely on your own towels, it’s best if you invest in travel towels: they’re incredibly light and absorbent, and take up very little space!
You can’t bring all your clothes with you ―especially if you’re packing for a longer vacation. Before you start packing, check if your hotel offers a laundry service or if your Airbnb is equipped with a washing machine. Additionally, there might be laundromats in certain locations; sometimes, it’s best to have fewer clothes and do a load of laundry than bringing your whole wardrobe along.
Is there going to be a party, or maybe a hike? Are you going to be invited to a grand opening or a fancy dinner? Pack a special outfit for a special event, in order to avoid last-minute shopping and panicking.
Don’t Pack What You Can Find
Don’t lie: there are some things you can find anywhere, but you insist on carrying them from home. Well, there’s no need. Anything you can find at your destination, avoid bringing it with you and wasting precious space. You can buy shampoo in any supermarket!
Bottles will probably spill… unless you unscrew their caps and place some plastic wrap underneath, so as to avoid liquid destruction. This is a great extra layer of protection that will secure your clothes from spills.
Skip the “Fragile” Tag
Marking your suitcase as fragile won’t guarantee extra care by the airport staff. Instead, this would only make your suitcase arrive a bit later. It’s best if you just pack any fragile items in your carry-on so that you make sure not to bump it around yourself.
Download Tour Guides
You definitely don’t need these books! Even though pocket-sized, they do take up… pocket space. Download some free walking tour guides and save them on your phone, ready to use.
Nobody really carries actual paper maps anymore, so this is a data-packing hack: save the map of the area you’re visiting on your phone for offline browsing and save up money!
Necklaces on Straws
Your necklaces might end up tangled and just unwearable; but if you keep them together by threading them through a regular straw, you can save space in your luggage. How? You won’t have to bring a jewelry box!
Jewellery In Medicine Containers
Medicine containers are like super-small Tupperware, and they’re great for fitting small jewellery inside your suitcase; you can organize them in the different compartments and have an unorthodox but comfortable alternative solution to jewellery boxes.
Refillable Water Bottles
Water doesn’t cost much… until you have to buy a water bottle every few hours. Investing in a quality refillable water bottle will save you money, and boost your mood ―it’s the only environmentally friendly option.
Plastic File Folders
Plastic file folders are not just for school, they’re also great for clothes prone to wrinkling: try folding your shirts, and then putting them inside one of these folders. There’s just no room for wrinkling!
Line Shirt Collars with Belts
This is a next-level packing hack we wish we’d known sooner: prevent your collar from bending and wrinkling by placing a leather belt on the inside. After all, a nice, stiff collar is what makes a shirt.
Keep Things Fresh
Dirty clothes in your compact suitcase can have a dreadful impact on your things… To get rid of any unwanted smell in your suitcase, cloth fresheners and a couple of dryer sheets can do wonders.
It’s generally advised that you don’t pack unnecessary items; if you don’t think you’re going to use it, don’t pack it “just in case”. You don’t need ten different shirts for a 4-day holiday, nor a hair-straightener on the off-chance of possible humidity!
All Items are Multi-purpose Items
This is pretty much the golden rule of packing. It’s not just a jacket; it’s also a pillow! It’s not just a shoe, it’s also a case for your socks! In order to make packing more fun, try thinking outside the box, and find additional purposes for each and every item.
Always double-check the restrictions of all sorts! Regarding luggage, different airlines have different size restrictions for the onboard suitcases, so make sure there won’t be any unfortunate surprises at the bag drop-off counter.
Don’t forget to pack enough masks and antiseptic gel (make it travel-sized). If you want to be extra careful, get some gloves as well, and download the COVID-19 government app for the country you’re visiting.
Finally, take into account that concert halls, museums or even restaurants might have limitations. At these trying times, we need to acknowledge all safety measures.
In case of a cancellation, lost luggage or even an accident, travel insurance will save your life. A lost flight is bad, but unexpected, overcharged medical bills are worse.