10 Travel Hacks for Packing Light

Neatly packed suitcase with sunglasses ready for traveling.

Hey all you beautiful people! I’ve already laid out my peak travel essentials for women, but how about some sneaky packing hacks that everybody can enjoy? From a long-haul flight to Barcelona to a  road trip that stops at every Idaho hot spring, I’ve got years of experience making the most of my suitcases.

So here’s my list of travel packing hacks to help you save space, avoid overpacking, and cut down on added fees! Ready for my top 10 travel tips?  Let’s go!

Pink suitcase packed neatly with essential travel items like sunglasses, shoes, and shirts.

1. Stick To A Carry-On

Now I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: only check a bag if it’s absolutely necessary! Not only do you save on baggage fees, but you save time at check-in and won’t run the risk of delayed or lost luggage. 

That being said, I know that sometimes a trip is just too long not to pack an extra bag, which brings me to travel hack number two. For those who simply must check a bag, make sure to follow these simple rules:

2. Keep Valuables On You

Basically, don’t put anything in your checked bag that you can’t afford to lose! Important documents, electronics, jewelry, or anything you cannot live without must stay in your carry-on. Fill up your checked luggage with extra clothes, accessories, and whatever else will be a hassle to lose, but not the end of the world. Now, regardless of your suitcase size or number of bags, the following travel hacks apply. You can also use a last-minute packing checklist for camera gear and accessories.

3. Reusable Toiletry Bottles For The Win

Again, this is a little tip you might have seen me mention before, but you just can’t stop my love of refillable TSA-approved toiletry bottles–there’s plenty on Amazon! You won’t waste space with full-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles, plus you can top them off with hotel or Airbnb toiletries as you go. 

4. Reusable Bags Galore

You can never have enough small to mid-sized reusable, collapsible bags when it comes to traveling. Small, reusable sandwich bags are great for keeping your chargers and cables in one place while larger ones can replace flimsy toiletry bags when you’re going through security. A jumbo-sized stuff-sack like this one is the perfect thing to separate your dirty laundry from clean clothing. 

Of course, packing cubes and mesh bags are ideal for making the most of the space in your suitcase and being gentle on the environment, but gallon and sandwich-sized Ziploc bags can work in a pinch. I’d highly recommend bringing one or two extra empty bags, just in case!

5. Under-Pack Your Bags

Now, obviously you want to avoid over-packing, but I’m here to tell you that you actually need to go farther than that. You need to make an effort to under-pack and leave space in that suitcase. You’re going to want to bring back some goodies from your destination, and that won’t work if your bags are already at capacity when you go!

6. Lay Out Your Outfits

One surefire way to keep your suitcase light is to ensure that each clothing item can be worn in a variety of configurations. Go ahead, lay potential outfits out across your bed to have a snapshot of each day! Swap out less versatile pieces (we’re looking at you beaded boho crop top) with ones that can double as day-wear and evening attire. This will keep you from throwing clothes in your bag at random, losing space to items you never end up wearing. 

Quick packing tip: once you’re done planning your outfits, don’t group them according to category! If you arrange all the jeans in one packing cube, shirts in another, and so on, you’ll have to pull everything out of your suitcase on day one. Instead, keep entire outfits together so that you can grab and go, without digging in the bottom of your bag for a pair of underwear!

Messy suitcase that could be packed better with travel hacks.

7. Balance Your Bags

We all know the nightmare of a bag that’s over the weight limit, but how about one that keeps tipping over, or has crushed and wrinkled contents? Well, that’s what happens when the weight of what you packed isn’t evenly distributed throughout the suitcase. Here’s the key: the heaviest items go on the bottom, near the wheels, while the lightest items stay at the top, near the handle. 

8. Use Your Shoes For Storage

Ideally, you won’t be packing many shoes. You should really only have two pairs: one to walk in, and one to walk in when it’s wet out. Still, sometimes you’ve just gotta have those wedges for a night out. In that case, take advantage of them! Especially if your shoes take up a lot of space, stuff them with your socks, underwear, or any other small items you’re bringing along. 

Regarding your water-resistant shoes, plastic shower caps are great for covering wet or muddy soles as they travel in and out of your suitcase!

9. Curate Your Own Packing List

This one takes time but makes your packing process a little easier with every trip. On your phone, in an email draft, or anywhere you can easily access, make a list of everything you brought on a trip. Then, when it’s over, cross out what you didn’t need and add what you did. 

Soon enough, you’ll be able to just whip out that list, throw it all in your bags, and get out the door! Packing lists are all over the internet (including here!), but ultimately you’ll have to get acquainted with what’s essential for you.

10. Revisit Your Credit Card

Does your card charge extra fees for international ATMs? How about rewarding you with points for airfare? If you’re planning on living that nomad life, then it’s time for your financial choices to reflect that. There’s tons of great resources out there to find the best rewards!

Et voilà! There you have my favorite travel hacks to keep TSA off your back and to save your hotel rooms from unpacking explosions. Got more tips? Let me hear them in the comments below!
Now that you know everything you need for a perfectly packed bag, how about a trip across Texas or even to Rome? The world is your oyster!

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