81% of Americans think that they're pretty good at packing, according to a survey by cheapflights.com. Although packing for a trip can seem daunting, it's a necessary part of traveling. Luckily, becoming a part of this 81% is easy with the right hacks, tips, and tricks. Whether it’s a hiking trip or an overseas backpacking vacation, you’ll have the knowledge to make packing for your next adventure a breeze.
Create a packing list
Everyone loves a good list. They’re great for staying organized and making sure you have all the essentials you need: clothes, backpacking meals, and everything in between.
Use compression packing bags
Surprisingly, air takes up a lot of space in your luggage. Using compression bags, you can minimize this air by creating a vacuum seal, saving you some room for other items. This is especially useful for the bulkier items in your bag, like a jacket or sweater.
Bring travel-size toiletries
For most trips, you’ll likely only need a few days’ worth of toiletries, so look for travel-size bottles of your favorite products. The Travel Security Agency (TSA) also has restrictions placed on containers larger than 3.4 ounces, just in case you’re looking to catch a flight.
Put things inside your shoes
Shoes take up a lot of space in a luggage bag, but stashing items inside your shoes is an easy workaround. Shoes are an especially great place to stash smaller items like a pair of socks and underwear or fragile items that you don’t want to be lost or broken.
Wear the shoes that take up the most room
Save some extra space for souvenirs, and wear your biggest shoes on the day of your trip. Sure, they may not be the most comfortable shoes to travel with, but it’s a great way to save valuable space in your luggage.
Pack lotions and liquids in Ziploc bags
Keep all your toiletries together in a Ziploc bag; this makes sure nothing gets forgotten and keeps spills contained in case of an accident. Besides that, most airports require you to keep all liquids in a quart-sized plastic bag for your flight. If you’re especially worried about spills in your luggage, wrap your bottles in plastic wrap for an extra layer of protection.
Have a stack of shower caps to cover dirty shoes
Dirty shoes won’t stand a chance against this travel packing hack. For as little over a dollar a piece, shower caps are a cheap and easy way to protect your clean clothes from your shoes. Don’t let a rainy day stop you from enjoying your well-earned adventure.
Roll your clothes
Rolling your clothes may require you to take a little extra time to pack, but the space it saves is worth every second. As an added bonus, rolling your clothes helps protect them from wrinkles, so you look fresh and feel fantastic knowing this trick.
Pack a reusable bottle (TSA approved)
Although the TSA won’t allow you through security screening with a full water bottle, you can bring an empty reusable bottle to refill before you board and stay hydrated on your trip. Save the planet and your wallet all in one go!
Add a first-aid kit
Occasional scrapes and cuts are unavoidable, but it’s easy to be prepared with a travel-size first-aid kit. It gives you everything you need for a small injury without taking up very much space.
Get a compact source of light
Sometimes the sunlight beats us to bed, so it’s a good idea to have a reliable source of light to keep on hand, especially for you outdoor enthusiasts looking to improve your camping experience. We recommend a LuminAID lantern which can give you up to 100 hours of continuous light and can easily be recharged using solar energy! They’re durable, waterproof, and collapsible, so they’re sure to withstand all your adventures.
The internet is excellent for finding the information you need before your trip, but we can’t always rely on having a stable internet connection. Thankfully, most of this information is downloadable. Many apps allow you to download maps and trails ahead of time, and many downloadable digital travel guides are available online. This is especially useful for solo travelers and hikers exploring new places.
Pack from the bottom up
Pack your heavy things at the bottom of your luggage, keeping in mind how the bag is oriented when it’s standing up straight. It can be easy to overlook the weight distribution on your bag, but by packing from the bottom up, you reduce the risk of your bag tipping over and things being accidentally crushed. For travelers using luggage bags with wheels, you’ll be especially surprised at how much smoother your wheels roll this way, as well. Just pack your shoes on the bottom and the clothing items on top.
Scan or take photos of your important documents
Traveling is stressful enough on its own, and having to worry about keeping important documents safe only makes things more stressful. A quick (and free!) way to make your experience easier is to take scans or photos of your important documents to keep on your phone or an online cloud, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Now, you never have to worry about forgetting important documents or keeping them safe on your trip. This can work for your vaccine card, receipts, and more.
Wrap up fragile items in bubble wrap
Souvenirs are yours to keep and display. Make sure your new valuables and fragile items are properly protected in your luggage by wrapping them in bubble wrap and plastic wrap. This will keep them safe and in one piece on your trip.
Pack dry sheets
You may not always have time to wash your clothes before returning home. Pack a couple of dryer sheets in your bag, and they’ll keep your dirty clothes odor-free.
Use non-wrinkle clothes
Clothes are at risk of wrinkling when they’re folded tightly in your bags, and packing an iron means taking up unnecessary space. Pack non-wrinkle clothes for your trips and choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics like polyester.
Leave valuables at home
Coming home and realizing you’re missing something from your trip is enough to make your stomach drop. Leave valuables at home where they’re safe from being lost or stolen.
Leave essentials near the top of your backpack/suitcase
It’s not always viable to look through your backpacks or luggage at the airport for something you need, so keep essential items like tickets and wallets near the top of your bag by the opening.
If you take a plane…
Get travel insurance
Protect yourself from flight delays, missing baggage, and hotel cancellation fees with travel insurance. Accidents happen, but don’t let that get in the way of your vacation.
Double-check baggage allowance
What you’re allowed to bring with you on a flight changes from airline to airline, so it’s always a good idea to double-check that you don’t over-pack.
Wear your heaviest piece of outerwear
Wearing your heaviest clothes on the day of your trip is the easiest way to keep your bags lightweight. It might not be the most comfortable thing to wear at the airport, but it lightens your luggage and saves a ton of space.
Commonly Forgotten Things While Packing
We take our phones with us everywhere, but it’s easy to forget to bring a charger. Make sure to add this to your checklist, along with a portable charger. LuminAID PackLite Titan can charge up to 3 phones with its 4000mAh battery and serves as an emergency light wherever you need it.
Toothbrush with toothpaste
Forgetting to pack toiletries is a common oversight, so pack these first so you don’t forget to add them at the end. Even better, keep a spare travel-size toothpaste and a toothbrush in your toiletry bag so you’ll always have it with you.
Keep your dirty clothes separated from your luggage by using a laundry bag. As a bonus, many can be used similarly to a compression bag by squeezing out all the air before closing, saving space in your suitcase.
Traveling to new places means you’ll be experiencing different weather than you’re used to, so protect yourself from the sun with travel-size sunscreen. This is especially important for those planning an outdoor excursion since you will be more exposed to harmful UV rays than normal.
Lip balm isn’t something that many people remember to pack on a trip: they’re small and easily forgotten about, but they can be very useful in a pinch. Changes in weather and altitude can cause dry skin, which is easily remedied by lip balms. Many people don’t realize that it can actually be used for more than just your lips, such as on your hands like hand lotion, or on your face if you need a little moisturizer. For outdoor enthusiasts, lip balm can be used as a quick fix for sticky and stuck zippers.
Don’t let a rainy day get in the way of your next adventure. An umbrella is one of those items you likely won’t need to use, but it’s better to have one on hand and not need it than to get stuck in a surprise rainfall.
Now that you have a first-aid kit on your list, don’t forget to pack your prescription and over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately, allergies, headaches, and nausea don’t stop while on vacation, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.
Now that you’re on your way to becoming a packing genius, here are some editor’s tips to really make you an expert.
Should I roll or fold clothes while packing?
Rolling your clothes is highly recommended over folding since they take up less space and can be packed tighter than folded clothes. Furthermore, rolling your clothes means there is less risk of your clothes wrinkling or getting crease lines from being folded tightly in your luggage.
What should I pack in my suitcase or backpack first?
Pack your heavy and bulky things first, such as shoes and sweaters. This will keep your suitcase and backpack from tipping over, and you likely won’t need them on your travel day. Then, clothes follow after that. Pack small and important items last close to the top of your bags to keep them safe and available for quick access.
Should I use packing cubes? Do they save room?
Yes, packing cubes are a fantastic way to compartmentalize your belongings together, keeping you organized and reducing the time spent looking for items. They can also help you save room by keeping things neatly together in a cube rather than trying to stuff clothes and personal items loosely into your luggage.
Packing for your next adventure doesn’t have to be daunting. With these tips and tricks, you’re ready to optimize your luggage space and pack for your adventure like a pro. No more curtailed camping trips or last-minute shopping for forgotten items, and more time spent enjoying your well-deserved vacation!