15 Best Travel Hacks for Packing for Your Next Vacation

There’s nothing more exciting than jet-setting off on a new trip. But before the adventure begins, there’s one dreadful thing we all have to do: pack. 

I’m prone to pack my suitcase at the last minute, which inevitably means I forget something important. It’s no fun to have to wear the same pants your whole vacation (been there!). But you don’t want to pay a baggage fee at the airport because you packed too much, either!

I’ve already shared my tips on travel essentials for women, but today I want to share some packing hacks to ensure you bring everything you need (and nothing you don’t!) on your next vacation. 

Take these hacks to heart and you’ll be ready to travel to NYC, the Galapagos, or anywhere else in the world your feet might take you!

carry on suitcase on beach

Packing Hack #1: Make a List Before You Start Packing

Excitement over your trip can mess with your brain when you’re packing. Any other day, you’d realize you don’t need high heels for a hiking trip. But when you’re packing for a quick getaway, all of a sudden it seems reasonable. It’s important to make a packing list before you start packing so you will plan what to bring before you start looking through your closet. 

Try and think through what you’re actually going to do each day. Do you have any formal evenings planned? Then one pair of high heels might make sense. Do you regularly workout at home? If the answer’s no, then you probably don’t need exercise clothes for a cruise.

Make a list and stick to it! You’ll save space in your suitcase for the items you’ll actually use on your trip.

Packing Hack #2: Check the Weather at Your Destination

It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast at your destination, but if you do it a week or more in advance, it may have completely changed by the time you board your flight. I recommend checking the weather a day or two before you travel to get the most accurate forecast. 

Then—and this is important—pack based on the forecast. If the weather is supposed to be warm and sunny, don’t fill your suitcase with a bunch of sweatshirts. It’s a good idea to pack at least one article of clothing in case of unanticipated weather, but don’t overdo it.

If the weather forecast shows rain or if you are visiting a location where it rains a lot (like the tropics) it is also wise to invest in a waterproof backpack. These will keep your clothes and other items dry even in heavy torrential rain. I like the ones from DryTide because they also look good.

Packing Hack #3: Pack Outfits, Not Just Clothes You Like

It can be tempting to load up your suitcase with all your favorite clothes when you’re headed out of town. But I think it makes more sense to pack a few full outfits you know you love rather than every top you’ve ever looked good in.

Turns out all your favorite clothes don’t exactly go together! Thinking about the whole outfit will ensure you have the right shoes to match your favorite tie or the right skirt for that breezy top.

Packing Hack #4: Roll Your Clothes Or…

Have you ever unpacked your suitcase only to realize all your clothes have become completely wrinkled in transit? Rolling your clothes instead of folding them helps prevent wrinkles and also saves space in your suitcase (science!).

For an even more organized bag, try…

Packing Hack #5: …Use Packing Cubes

…packing with packing cubes! You guys—packing cubes are amazing for anyone living out of a suitcase for a few days or weeks. 

My packing hack? Fill each packing cube with a full outfit. When it comes time to get dressed, instead of rifling through all your clothes (and messing up your entire suitcase in the process) you can simply pull out one packing cube and leave the rest of your suitcase alone.

Plus, who doesn’t love the look of well-organized luggage? I mean, come on!

Packing Hack #6: Put a Shower Cap On Your Shoes

I don’t know about you, but stuffing dusty, dirty shoes into the same suitcase as my underwear grosses me out. Not only does it make my clothes smelly (more on that later), but it just seems dirty.

I started putting a shower cap over my shoes before I put them in my suitcase and wow, what a game changer! My clothes stay fresh and clean, and I still have the flexibility to put my shoes wherever they fit best in my suitcase.

Packing Hack #7: Wear All Your Biggest Items On the Plane

One of the easiest ways to save space in your suitcase is by being intentional about what you wear on the plane. Are you bringing a heavy jacket on your trip? Layer up with it on the plane—it’ll double as a pillow once you get comfortable!

I always try to wear my bulkiest shoes on the plane, too. Whether it’s hiking boots or walking shoes, putting them on my feet instead of in my suitcase saves a ton of space!

Packing Hack #8: Bring a Few Garbage Bags for Laundry

If you don’t have the option to do laundry while on vacation, then you’re going to be flying home with a lot of dirty clothes. Plan ahead by packing a few plastic bags, like garbage bags, before you go. You can fill them with dirty laundry throughout your trip, so you stay more organized (and fresh!) the whole time you’re away from home.

Packing Hack #9: Sneak Some Dryer Sheets Into Your Bag

Remember when we talked about smelly shoes? A simple way to keep stinky shoes or clothes from making your whole suitcase smell musty is to stick a few scented dryer sheets into your suitcase. 

Beware though—dryer sheets can be potent! Start by adding just a couple to your suitcase—you can always double up for your next trip if you need to!

Packing Hack #10: Slip a Cotton Swab Into Makeup Containers

I’ve broken one too many containers of blush to not take this one to heart, and I bet you have, too! Turns out putting a thin cotton swab under the lid of your blush can help prevent it from breaking and cracking, even if your bag gets tossed around in transit.

makeup in suitcase

Packing Hack #11: Plastic Wrap Your Toiletries

This is a genius packing hack for anyone who has ever opened up their suitcase to find their toiletries have leaked all over everything. Next time you fly, put a piece of plastic wrap between your lotion, shampoo, or any other liquid toiletries and the lid. 

I prefer using this hack to putting my toiletries in a plastic bag because it saves me from wasting product. Just make sure the plastic wrap is secured by the lid and you’ll have dry, clean toiletries once you arrive!

Packing Hack #12: Don’t Pack Anything You’ll Find at Your Destination

I don’t know about you, but I always find myself bringing the tiny hotel shampoo bottles home instead of actually using them while I’m on my trip. Instead of filling your suitcase with hotel amenities, why not just use them during your stay?

These days, most hotels (and even Airbnbs!) have body wash, shampoo, conditioner, a blow dryer, even laundry service! Unless you’re very attached to your body wash, save some suitcase space and use the amenities provided. After all, you’re paying for them!

Packing Hack #13: Bring a Carry-On Bag of Essentials

For some people, thinking about the worst-case scenario can relieve some travel anxiety. When it comes to flying, the worse-case scenario is probably losing your checked luggage. Not only is it inconvenient, but there may be things in your luggage you simply can’t live without, like prescriptions or credit cards. 

Most people never lose their luggage while flying. But just in case, it’s a good idea to bring a carry-on bag with all your essential items each time you fly. Pack your glasses, prescriptions, a refillable water bottle, your phone charger, a change of clothes, and all your identification documents in your carry on. 

No matter what happens with your luggage, you’ll be prepared to start vacationing as soon as you land!

Packing Hack #14: Buy a Universal Charging Station

If you have a new(ish) phone, laptop, or smart watch, then you probably have the capability to charge your devices wirelessly. Universal charging stations are great for traveling because you can use one charger for all your devices—no more worrying if you brought the right charging cords or if your hotel room will have enough outlets. 

universal charger

Packing Hack #15: Don’t Forget Adapters

Last but not least…if you’re traveling overseas, don’t forget outlet adapters! If you’re planning on using anything you might plug in—a charger, a hair straightener, or a steamer, for example—you’re going to need to make sure it will actually fit into your outlets.

I hope these travel hacks for packing make your next trip even more enjoyable! Bon voyage!

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