How to Hack Travel Packing
Updated: May 10
With world travel up and running again, your packing skills might be a bit rusty. If you’re in danger of disorganized packing, underpacking, or overpacking post-pandemic, I’ve got tips to make your suitcase more orderly and efficient.
Investing in strategic packing helps you avoid heavy baggage fees and navigate the airport, train platform, or vehicle trunk with ease. It also means you’ll get to enjoy your vacation without unnecessary shopping detours or sitting on your suitcase to zip it closed for the return trip.
With every vacation, there are a number of factors that will impact your packing: the type of trip and the length of time you’ll be away; your specific itinerary, including whether you have any special events planned; the weather at your destination; the size of your luggage; and any size or weight constraints provided by your mode of transportation.
Don’t let packing anxiety diminish your excitement about your impending getaway! Plan ahead to avoid the stress caused by packing at the last minute, and keep reading for my advice on packing smartly and quickly for your next vacation.
Pick One Neutral
Consider creating a capsule wardrobe specifically for travel. Pick one neutral—whether it be black, grey, navy, tan, or any other hue of your choice—and pack around that one basic color. That way, you can mix and match coordinates with ease. And you need not sacrifice style, either: simply pack a variety of accessories to change up and add vibrancy to your outfits.
Pack Three Pairs of Shoes (or Fewer)
If you’re like me, you tend to overpack shoes, which are bulky and heavy. Limit yourself to three pairs of shoes or fewer. A suggestion would be a pair of flats, a pair of heels, and sneakers or walking shoes. Then, pack them tetris-style to fill every inch of space by stuffing socks or smaller pairs of shoes inside of larger ones and laying shoes together heel to toe. There are thin shoe bags that you can buy or simply use a plastic bag to keep clothes clean. Pack shoes and other heavy items at the bottom of your roller suitcase near the wheels, balancing the weight distribution to make it easier to roll and helping it stay upright.
Plan and Pack by Outfit
Have you ever arrived at your destination and found you’d packed a random assortment of items that don’t really go together? Avoid this packing snag by trying a wardrobe planner or packing by outfit. With a wardrobe planner, you make a physical list of the outfit combinations you have for daytime, nighttime, and any special events or activities on your trip. Then take it with you so that you can see at a glance what goes together and what you can re-wear. You get bonus points for making a list of what you didn’t wear upon your return, so that you can avoid packing it next time. With packing by outfit, use the bundle technique to pack pre-planned ensembles together in your suitcase, making getting dressed in the morning a breeze. With this method, you wrap articles of clothing that make up an outfit around the central core of the outfit’s undergarments, keeping them in one tight bundle to be placed neatly into the suitcase.
Don’t put anything in your suitcase without doing a final visual edit of everything you’ve assembled. At this point, I recommend visually scanning for a three-to-one packing ratio of tops to bottoms—that is, three tops for every one pair of bottoms. Whether you keep clothing items on hangers or lay out everything on your bed, group things together to see what doesn’t belong or doesn’t have high impact value. In this stage, you want to edit ruthlessly and reconsider each and every item you’re packing in your luggage.
Have a Dedicated Toiletry Bag
One way to cut down on packing time is to never unpack your toiletry bag. When you create a dedicated travel-only toiletry bag that contains duplicates of everything you use at home, you can zip up your bag with confidence the night before you’re set to travel. It’s even better if that toiletry bag is clear, so that you and TSA (if you’re flying) can see what’s inside with ease. In the same vein, consider keeping travel essentials like chargers, lip balm, an eye mask, and earplugs in the zip pocket of your go-to carry-on bag.
Try a New Clothes Packing Method
Consider trying a new packing method, like rolling, compressing, or using packing cubes. Rolling can help save space in your suitcase, but you’ll first want to consider the fabrics of your clothing items. Fold clothes made of most natural materials, but feel free to roll anything synthetic. To roll, lay tops facedown, tuck in the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up. For bottoms, fold legs together, then roll from the waistline down. Roll delicate items around a piece of packing or tissue paper for extra protection. Compression bags can help keep you organized while also saving space. They’re especially good for bulky apparel, and I especially recommend them for storing laundry at the end of your trip, to lock in odors and keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones. Packing cubes stack together easily and help keep your suitcase orderly. These days, they’re universally thin and lightweight, so you won’t add weight to your suitcase or lose space.
Now that we’ve taken the stress out of packing with these hacks, why not get started planning your next vacation today? Drop me a line and let me know what kind of vacation you’re dreaming of so that you pack for your next trip sooner rather than later. Wherever you’re headed, I’m wishing you organized and lightweight luggage in tow.
You can book hotels or resorts directly on my link below and still lock in extra Vivo Travel Design amenities such as complimentary breakfast and resort credit as well as room upgrades and early check-in / late check-out when available. As always, I am here to assist if you would rather have me arrange your stay for you.