Traveling is great. Everyone should pack their bags and grab any opportunity they can to travel. But packing for travel is not as straightforward as you may think. It comes with challenges, which is why you need travel packing hacks to help you make the best of your experience.
Here’s a comprehensive list of 37 useful travel packing hacks:
Pro traveler packing hacks you can actually use
1. Scan or photograph your important travel documents
When you are traveling, it’s important to keep your travel documents safe. However, if something were to happen, it’s a smart idea to have a backup. You can do this by photographing or scanning all your important documents, and saving them on your phone. Do this for any booking confirmations you might have, too.
Also, email this to yourself so that it is saved in the cloud. If you lose any of your travel documents, you’ll have a backup on your phone. If your phone is lost or stolen, you’ll have an online backup too.
2. Use credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees
For local travel, this is not an issue, but if you are traveling internationally, be sure to get at least one credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. If you are traveling abroad and you plan on using your credit card, those fees will quickly add up.
3. Maximize space and reduce creasing by rolling your clothes
Many people swear by rolling their clothes to prevent creasing, instead of folding them. Rolling clothes also minimize the space it takes.
4. Pack your valuables in your hand luggage
If you have irreplaceable items that you really would not want to lose, leave them at home! You do not want to risk losing it. However, if you are traveling with valuable items like gadgets or jewelry, pack them in your hand luggage.
5. Pack travel adapters
If you’re traveling internationally, be sure to pack a universal adapter or a travel adapter for the region you are traveling to. This is essential and not something you can forget. Otherwise, you won’t be able to charge for any of your gadgets.
6. Get a power bar/ charging station
Whether you have lots of gadgets that need charging, or you’re traveling with a group, get a power bar/charging station. That way, you can plug several items into your power bar and only have to bring one international adapter.
7. Crack-proof your cosmetics with cotton rounds
If you’ve ever opened your travel cosmetic bag, only to find the blush, bronzer, or eye shadow palette crumbled and everything covered in dust, you will love this—it’s one of the best travel packing hacks for cosmetics. Crack-proof your cosmetics by placing cotton rounds inside your compact cases.
8. Keep your clothes clean by putting shower caps on your shoes
Even if you think you cleaned your shoes thoroughly, it may feel a little gross to pack your shoes next to your clothes. Avoid getting your clothes dirty by putting a disposable shower cap around the bottom parts of your shoes.
9. Travel with a basic first aid kit
Obviously, pack any prescription and/or contractive medication you take, but also pack a basic first aid kit. Here you can include bandages, pain killers, motion sickness medication like Dramamine, etc. Also bring over-the-counter medication for indigestion and heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, etc. You may not need these kinds of medications regularly, but when you travel, unexpected things happen so it’s better to be prepared.
10. Pack zip-lock bags
Ziplock bags are great packing hacks because they’re so versatile. Be sure to pack a few in different sizes! You can use them for wet swimsuits, dirty laundry, separating liquid medicines, protecting electronics from the sand while you’re at the beach, etc.
11. Carefully consider your suitcase options
Many people like to travel light so they travel with only a carry-on—even to international destinations. There are many benefits to traveling with only a carry-on. However, when you travel with only a carry-on, you are likely to stuff your little suitcase to capacity. By doing that, you leave no room for any souvenirs on your way back home. Avoid that hassle by planning some space in your luggage for vacation purchases.
12. Download free digital tour guides
There are many free walking tour guides available. Save it on your phone and use it while you are on vacation—it beats buying a big, heavy book.
13. Download google maps for offline browsing
Save data when you’re traveling by saving google maps to your phone before you leave. You can save the maps of the places you will visit. This makes for easy, data-free browsing.
14. Check the baggage allowance
Airlines have different size allowances and restrictions. Check the airline’s policy before you leave so that you don’t have any unpleasant surprises or extra charges at the airport.
15. Consider getting travel insurance
By having travel insurance, you are covered in case of cancellations or any changes to vacation reservations.
16. Add a change of clothes to your carry-on
If your luggage is delayed or heaven forbid, lost, you will have at least one day of clothes and essentials.
17. Consider packing cubes
We all know how disorganized things can get when you are traveling, and you’re trying to pull things out of a suitcase in a rush. It can quickly become a mess. Packing cubes allow you to keep your clothes organized because you’re only grabbing what you need.
18. Pack your clothes by days
Pack the clothes (including underwear) for each day in individual zip-lock bags. If you are going away for 5 days, there should be 5 individual packages, with extras for swimsuits, dinner out, etc. This is one of the most under-appreciated travel packing hacks but it is extremely helpful and efficient when you are traveling! It’s also super easy because you can simply grab a package and get dressed.
19. Store your curling iron or straightener in an oven mitt
While you are on vacation, there are going to be mornings when you’ve got to pack up early, so you won’t have time to wait for your curling iron or hair straightener to cool down first. Solve that hassle by storing it in an oven mitt. This will prevent hot tools from burning something in your suitcase.
Oven mitts are cheap too! You can even pick one up from your local dollar store.
20. Stuff your shoes
Shoes take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Maximize the space you have by stuffing your socks into your shoes.
21. Save your attractions on Google Maps
Save yourself a lot of effort by planning your itinerary on Google Maps. That way, you have everything in one place and you can quickly and easily see which attractions are close to each other. Also, add all the restaurants and activities you want to check out. Having everything in one place is very convenient!
22. Consider bar soap, shampoo, and conditioner
Traditional shower gels, shampoos, and conditioners are convenient, particularly if you have travel-sized versions. The problem is that sometimes they open up and create a mess in your toiletry bag. You can solve that problem by putting plastic wrap over them, but this may be a hassle. You can avoid the hassle by buying bar soaps, shampoo, and conditioner.
23. Be prepared for any special activities or events
Whatever you are planning to do while on vacation, make sure you are packed for it. That will save you from having to buy things that you already have when you are on vacation.
24. Don’t pack things you’ll get for free at your destination
If you will be staying in hotels, you don’t need to pack towels, shower gels, shampoo, conditioner. Unless you are committed to specific brands, or you don’t like the items they have at hotels, don’t pack these things. They will take up valuable space.
25. Travel with a travel scale
If you are like most people, odds are you will go above the weight limit, especially when you are flying home and you bought all those souvenirs. The extra charges can be quite expensive, but they can be avoided with a simple travel scale.
Travel scales are cheap, lightweight, and small—they can fit into your hand.
We ALWAYS have weight issues when we travel! Thanks to our travel scale (which we’ve had for years), we can weigh each piece of luggage, then move things around from suitcase to suitcase until all the suitcases are within acceptable weight ranges.
26. Pack travel-sized toiletries and cosmetics
Large toiletries take up a ton of space. It’s heavy too. Everyone knows you can minimize the space and weight by packing travel-sized toiletries only. But did you know you could do it with cosmetics too? It’s one of the best travel packing hacks because you can collect travel-sized cosmetics FOR FREE during the months leading up to your trip. If you are in a mall, stop by the cosmetic counters of your favorite brands and ask for free samples. You may get free samples of lots of products like mascara, foundation, etc. If you are shopping online, you can try this too. Places like Sephora include free samples (upon request) with online orders, although the options are extremely limited.
The significant thing about this strategy is that it’s FREE of course, but also that the samples are always under 100 ml. That means you can safely pack them in your carry-on with no TSA issues.
27. Consider space-saver bags for bulky items
If you are traveling with bulky items like coats, they can take up a ton of space in your luggage. The best hack to get around that is to place them in space-saver bags, suck out the air, then roll them. This travel hack really brings down the size of the items.
28. Pack heavy items by the wheels/bottom of your suitcase
When you are packing your suitcase, be sure to pack all the heavy items at the bottom near the wheels of your suitcase. That way it will balance your suitcase when you zip it and turn it up. With the heavy things at the bottom, there is now no risk of them crushing other things or toppling over because it is top-heavy.
29. Pack a mix and match travel wardrobe
If you want to travel light, a versatile, mix and match travel wardrobe is one of the best travel packing hacks because you’ll be able to pack individual items that you can turn into multiple outfits.
30. Pack fragile items in bubble wrap
To make sure all your fragile items arrive in one piece, wrap them in bubble wrap. Pack them in the middle of your clothes to keep them protected.
31. Check the weather forecast
This is probably one of the most significant travel packing hacks. Before you pack for your trip, check the five-day forecast for the place you are traveling to. Also, familiarize yourself with the region. For example, if you are traveling to a place where it is summer, the temperature might be great but that region may be known for summer rains. You will not know if you only check the temperature.
32. Use sunglass cases for cables
It is hard to keep cables organized when you’re traveling. By using sunglass cases, you can have a cheap and easy way to organize things.
33. Line shirt collars with belts to keep them stiff
If you need your shirt collars to stay crisp, place a stiff belt on the inside of the collars when you pack them.
34. Pack suit jackets inside-out
If you have any fancy evenings planned for your vacation, pack your jackets inside out to prevent them from wrinkling.
35. Thread necklaces through straws
Necklaces have a sneaky habit of getting knotted during travels. Avoid this hassle by threading them through a straw and closing it.
36. Store earrings in pill bottles
This is one of the easiest travel packing hacks! If you have any extra child-proof pill bottles, store your earrings in them. It keeps them organized but importantly—it keeps the sets together!
37. Store cotton swabs in pill bottles
Cotton swabs are useful for cleaning ears, putting on, or taking off makeup. However, keeping them clean while traveling can be difficult. If you have an old pill bottle, store them in there. It will keep them clean and it’s small enough to fit comfortably into a toiletry bag.
38. Prevent spillage by putting plastic wrap under bottle caps
No matter how tight you close the bottles, toiletry bottle spills happen. Prevent them by putting plastic wrap under the caps of your bottles.
39. Pack a refillable water bottle
Even if you usually drink water regularly, travel does strange things to a body and a routine. Pack a refillable water bottle to help you stay hydrated while you are on your trip.