13 Travel Packing Tips for Your Next Trip or Vacation

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Going on vacation? The last thing you want is to stress out about your suitcase. You have tons of clothes, electronics, and shoes to pack. And that’s in addition to all the souvenirs you’ll return with.

Instead of hastily stuffing your suitcase, slow down your process. These travel packing tips will help you save room and perfect your packing game.

1. Make a List

It might sound old-fashioned, but making a list is always helpful. Write down absolutely everything you need, no matter how obvious.

As you pack, check off items as you go along. Having a list will reassure you that you have everything you need. That way, you won’t have to dig through your suitcase last minute to make sure that you didn’t forget something important.

2. Don’t Pack Your Whole Wardrobe

This goes without saying: you don’t need to pack every variation of shirts and pants that you own. It’s challenging to narrow clothing down, but you have to think about what you’ll need.

Packing Suitcase Wardrobe
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If you’re going to an area that involves a lot of walking, don’t pack dressy or uncomfortable clothes. Similarly, you’ll want fancier clothes if you’re going on a formal business trip.

Check the weather forecast for the area you’re headed to. You don’t want to travel to your destination only to find that you’re under or overdressed for the weather.

3. Lay Everything Out

Sometimes it’s hard to see what you plan to pack until it’s all sitting out in the open. You don’t want to pack two of the same items or get to your destination and realize you forgot your socks at home. Thankfully, you can avoid these issues if you lay everything out before it goes into the suitcase.

As you lay everything out, you can go one step further and pair outfits together. This will help ensure you have items that match and have enough of everything to last the trip. Seeing everything out in the open can also help you visualize where to put everything as you begin packing your suitcase.

4. Army Roll Your Clothes

Forget folding. Rolling your clothes saves space. There’s a technique for rolling all types of clothes, as shown in the helpful video below. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice how much space you have in your suitcase. This practical method also helps prevent wrinkles.

5. Store Liquids in Plastic Bags

Even if you’re checking your bag, you’ll still want to store any liquids (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup) in plastic baggies. When your suitcase rolls around during its journey on the airplane, you don’t know what will happen to those bottles.

The liquids could explode or leak and instantly ruin your clothes. A plastic baggie won’t protect your bottles from bursting, but it’ll prevent them from leaking onto your clothes and electronics. This is one of those packing tips that can save the day.

6. Wear the Heaviest Items on the Plane

If you are trying to save space in your suitcase, the last thing you want to do is put a heavy coat or big boots in it. Instead, you can wear the heaviest items on the plane and save suitcase space for something else.

Packing Wear Heaviest Items
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Make sure anything you plan to wear on the plane is allowed to go through security and legally go on the plane.

7. Keep Your Clothes Fresh With Dryer Sheets

Most of the packing tips we’ve suggested help you save space. But what happens if you stick clothes next to smelly shoes?

Well, dryer sheets serve a purpose outside of softening fabric and preventing static electricity: they can keep your clothes fresh in your suitcase. Stuff a few dryer sheets between your clothes to avoid a musty smell.

8. Try Packing Cubes

Packing cubes, like this one from Amazon Basics, can make your suitcase much more organized. You can use these cubes to separate your clothes, toiletries, and other personal items. Better yet, when you get to your hotel, you can easily transport the cubes from your suitcase to your hotel room’s dresser.

packing cubes travel tips

9. Don’t Pack Bulky Footwear

If you need boots or bulky sneakers for your vacation, wear them on the plane. Stuffing them into your suitcase will take up way too much room. Otherwise, ditch the high heels and work boots if they’re optional for the trip.

10. Take Advantage of Your Personal Item

Many travelers forget that airlines allow carry-on and personal items on planes. Please don’t bring a tiny purse as your personal item when you can bring something much more significant (as long as it fits under the seat in front of you).

Packing Personal Item
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A large tote bag or backpack is the perfect personal item. You can use this extra space to carry electronics, makeup, medicines, and other smaller personal items.

11. Separate Dirty Laundry

Having to haul your dirty laundry back home is always a hassle. Instead of repacking your dirty laundry or stuffing it inside of a small suitcase compartment, try putting them into packing cubes. This will help you keep your dirty and clean clothes separate, plus most packing cubes come with a lining that controls odor.

Check your hotel for drawstring laundry bags if you don’t get your hands on packing cubes. Placing your dirty laundry inside a bag isn’t ideal, but it works in a pinch.

12. Plan to do Laundry on Your Trip

If you travel for more than a few days but don’t want to take multiple suitcases, you can always wash laundry while traveling. Many places have laundry facilities nearby, which may be cheaper than paying for an additional checked bag. Just verify that facilities are available before you leave, and be sure to wash and dry your clothes correctly.

13. Weigh Your Suitcase

Once you’re done packing, don’t forget to weigh your suitcase. You don’t want to get slammed with an oversized luggage fee just because you’re a couple of pounds over the limit. Use a handy luggage scale that straps onto your bag’s handle to check your bag’s weight.


Packing Lighter Is Packing Smarter

Having an organized suitcase makes your vacation much less chaotic. When everything’s in its place, you won’t have to scramble to find all of your things. Packing lighter and more logically can help you avoid checking your bag altogether!

If you need more vacation advice, check out our guide on how to prepare for vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest size suitcase you can take on a flight?

TSA requires all carry-on bags to weigh less than 35 pounds and not exceed 10 inches deep, 16 inches wide, and 24 inches high.

What do people typically forget to pack?

Bathroom items are often what people forget to pack because they cannot go into the suitcase until the last minute.

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Megan Glosson

Megan Glosson is a passionate writer based in Nashville, TN. She enjoys writing about topics related to health, wellness, and everyday life, especially when the topic has a personal connection to her own life. Megan is currently published on over a dozen websites, including YourTango, Feel & Thrive, Moms.com, and The Mighty. Megan also serves as a content editor for Unwritten, a digital publication focused on millennial lifestyles.