13 Best Packing Hacks for Smart Travelers

Packing is probably up there in most travelers’ least favorite things to do. It’s simply stressful mainly because it takes a lot of time and effort whether you’re going for an overnight stay or a week-long getaway.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. All you need is to learn how to pack the smart way. Here are 13 best packing hacks to help you start your journey with ease:



1. Pack and plan ahead of time

travel essentials flatlay

Allot a day just to pack your stuff instead of doing it last-minute. This way you can prepare everything you need before your trip and avoid overpacking.

Check the expected weather over the duration of your trip so you can put that in consideration as you pack, especially if you’ve booked a flight. Plan your stuff according to the activities you’ll be doing during your vacation.

2. Prepare a packing list

packing list

A packing list makes a lot of difference when it comes to traveling. You can either search online and print one or make a do-it-yourself packing list by itemizing everything you need to bring. Some of the common things to include in a packing list are the following:

  • Travel Documents: passport, valid IDs, cash and credit cards, reservations and tour contact information
  • Gadgets: mobile phone, headphones, iPad or Kindle, camera, chargers, etc.
  • Travel Entertainment: books, magazines, maps, dictionary, journal, etc.
  • Health and Beauty Items: first aid kit and makeup bag
  • Clothes: undergarments, shirts and blouses, pants, outerwear, swimwear (if necessary), winter clothes (if necessary) sleepwear, and shoes
  • Toiletries: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.

3. Familiarize yourself with items you shouldn’t bring on the plane

Avoid bringing prohibited items with you to speed up the process during security check. Restrictions may vary from country to country or between airlines but it is best to check the website of your chosen airline in advance to know this type of information.

Don’t forget to communicate your medical needs to the airline prior to your departure especially on severe food allergy and other serious medical condition. For certain do’s and don’ts to remember on your next flight, check out this list.

4. Lay it all out on a bed or sofa

To give yourself ample time to decide, it is best to lay everything you want to bring with you either on your bed or sofa. Put down everything from your itemized list and arrange them according to categories. From there, mix and match your outfits and ruthlessly make the cut based on your itinerary.

5. Prioritize your carry-on bag


Your carry-on bag should be the first thing that you should consider when it comes to packing. A carry-on bag works like an emergency kit as it contains all your travel essentials. Keep your carry-on bag organized so you can easily pull out an item when needed.

A tote bag is recommended for a quick weekend getaway, whereas a mini suitcase will be suitable for a 10-day vacation. Here are some of the items you should bring in your carry-on:

  • travel documents enclosed in a Ziploc envelope
  • wallet with cash/ID, mobile phone and charger
  • bottled water and snacks
  • medicines like Benadryl, Imodium and pain killers
  • prescribed medication
  • toiletries

6. Build your own capsule wardrobe

clothing bundle

Capsule wardrobe is all about picking 30 items or less of your smart and practical clothing pieces that coordinate with one another in color, style and texture.

Select a specific number of clothing excluding your undergarments you want to take with you. Picture the activities you will be doing and the wardrobe pieces that go with them. Then, create three to four looks using your selected pieces.

7. Bundle and roll

bundle and roll

This is a tried and tested packing technique. How to do it? Organize your clothes by type: shirts, shorts, tank tops, etc., and roll them like sushi. Put each bundle of clothing side-by-side in your luggage to maximize the available space.

Roll your clothes as tight as possible to avoid wrinkles. For items that are difficult to roll, like thick jackets and other outerwear, you can fold them or wear them instead.

8. Learn to manage your toiletries

travel size bottles

Some travelers are fine bringing only a toothbrush and a deodorant. Others need to have their complete set of personal toiletries no matter how short the vacation will be. Next time you travel, try practicing the following:

  • Take a look at your daily routine and separate the usual products you use in the morning and night. Packing items that you usually use can filter the inside of your toiletry bag by a fraction.
  • Opt for the travel-sized versions when it comes to your liquid products like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and sunscreen. You can also measure and transfer each on travel-friendly containers that comes in a set. Enclose everything in a Ziploc bag or any toiletry bag.
  • Pack beauty items that are multi-purpose so you can save space and save time doing your makeup. A good quality brown eyeshadow for example can be used as contour product as well as brow product in one.
  • Make sure that you follow the standard volume and weight when it comes to liquid products.
  • Check your hotel or accommodation if they have towel, shampoo, conditioner and soaps available in your room. If you are not that picky, then these hotel freebies will do instead of having to bring your own.
  • Avoid packing your own hair dryer because most hotels have one attached in the toilet or vanity table.

9. Pack shoes based on your itinerary

Shoes usually take up a lot of suitcase space. To avoid this kind of hassle, try to pack your shoes based on your itinerary. Always bring a good pair of flip-flops that you can use inside your room, for strolling around the city, or for walking along the beach.

A pair of white or black sneakers on the other hand can easily be partnered with any type of clothing. You can also wear your bulkiest and heaviest pair like rubber shoes or boots as part of your outfit on the plane to save space.

10. Take advantage of your suitcase’s compartments

Think long-term when it comes to purchasing a luggage. Investing in a durable and a reliable suitcase or backpack is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make for your travels. Choose one with several useful compartments for more storage space.

11. Always leave extra space

laundry bag

Be sure to leave some extra space in your luggage for your return trip. This extra space should be reserved for your dirty laundry or for souvenirs. Bring sealable laundry bags to easily separate used from unused clothes.

12. Utilize your airport outfit

girl wearing jacket

What you wear to the airport can also help lessen your luggage. Wearing your bulkiest outerwear and heaviest shoes can help reduce the weight of your luggage. If you are already near your luggage weight limit, try layering your clothes to lessen the weight.

13. Protect and accessorize your luggage

bag tag

Aside from protecting your suitcase from scratches, luggage covers can also spice up how your luggage looks. They’re very helpful especially if you are always having a hard time finding your luggage in the baggage claim.

Try buying a brightly colored or uniquely patterned luggage cover so you’ll immediately know which one is yours. Also, make sure to lock your suitcase properly and attach a bag tag in case you lose it.

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