Updated on April 2, 2019
Pack My Bags! Smart Packing Tips
I love traveling but despise packing. One of two things usually happens. Either I pack a little bit at a time, or I pack the night before I leave on a trip. The first is slow and can last for days while the second results in a mad rush, forgetting items, and not enough sleep.
How does your packing nightmare go?
After years of constant packing and unpacking (sometimes changing hotels every night),
Our favorite packing tips:
- Start with good luggage. Throw out that old 2 wheeled fabric bag and get a 4 wheel spinner. I did this 2 years ago and it is a game changer! Get 20% off luggage from eBags + free shipping (expires 5/29) or Buy One Get One Free at Samsonite with promo code BOGO (expires 5/22). eBags also as a cool trade in program. They send you a shipping label, send off your old bags and get a $25 credit. I love my Samsonite Fiero bags. They are light, inexpensive, and roll so easily, I can glide around everyone at the airport with 2 bags with one hand as I'm running late to the gate. As a result fellow passengers will also be thankful they no longer have to trip on the bags you are dragging behind. Also worth mentioning is when the wheels crapped out last year, Samsonite sent me a new bag. Nice!!
- One carry on + backpack. Yes, it's enough (usually).
- Use a packing list. I need a packing list otherwise I will take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Here's the packing list I use plus the one my wife writes for me.
- Roll don't fold. To prevent wrinkles on dress shirts, roll them around pants as a shirt rolled by itself will still wrinkle.
- Pack one belt. Wrap it along the inside of your suitcase. Thus, the belt doesn't take up any space and you can skip one step at security.
- Use packing cubes. You can pack an outfit for different types of weather or events while the rest of your stuff stays neatly stored instead of exploded all over the couch (ahem…).
- Don't bring U-shaped neck pillows. These don't work and will end up in the garbage. If you must, check out Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Pillow ($40) which is really popular on Amazon. Most coach seats now have foldable head rests that most people don't use. Or lets talk about those credit card bonuses to get you free business class flights so you won't need these crappy pillows.
- Use every inch. Fit more by rolling smaller clothes and placing them in between the ribs/frame of the suitcase. The space might be wasted with a large item that doesn't fit into the smaller crevasses. Stuff socks inside shoes and put the shoes inside plastic bags to keep everything clean.
- Pack some old clothes. Bring some clothing that is almost at the end of its life. Things are more likely to get destroyed while traveling than at home. Better to ruin old comfortable shoes than those brand new not yet worn-in kicks. Toss some items as you go to lighten your load and make room for those rolls of hotel toilet paper you steal.
- Mix, match, and multi-use. You only need one pair of jeans and casual pants to match with different shirts to make several outfits. Check the weather the day before to be sure you've packed accordingly.
- Leave the laptop at home. Most things can be done on your phone or hotel computer and you won't have to worry about laptop bans on flights. You'll save time getting through security and have one less thing to lug around or break or have stolen.
- Do bring socks in your carry on. You don't want to walk barefoot on the security checkpoint floor, do you?
- Don't pack white clothes. Ever try getting a BBQ sauce stain out? Wearing bits of my meals is always part of my travels (and getting made fun of every time)! Stick with darker colors that can be re-worn even if you stain them.
- Families: it can be cheaper and more convenient to ship bulkier items by mail ahead of time and just travel with a carry on. I will explore this one at some point I'm sure.
- Ladies: pack multi use cosmetics (creams, shampoos/conditioners, etc) and use those free samples you've been saving up from your Sephora trips.