Packing for a trip drives me crazy sometimes. I want to be ready for everything, so sometimes I overpack. I’ve compiled a handy list of packing tips – from my packing experience and tips I’ve found – to help you pack more effectively and quicker.
I’ve also created a free packing list PDF to help you pack more efficiently. See the bottom of this post to download it.
This post was updated in September 2021.
1. Check baggage policies.
Know your airline’s policies. How many carry-on bags are allowed? How much will you spend if you want to check your bag? Find out all the info so you’re not shocked at the check-in counter. Many airlines are limiting carry-on bags and adding fees!
2. Bring only carry-ons.
If you can swing it, bring only carry-on bags on your trip. Not having to wait at the baggage claim saves you time and the airline can’t lose your bag if it’s with you. I’ve managed to travel two to three weeks with two carry-on bags, so it’s doable! In places like Thailand, laundry services may be more affordable than your bag fee.
3. Make carry-on items easy to access.
When packing, put the items you’ll use during your flight – your e-reader, phone, or book – in an easy-to-access place. The people following you in the boarding line will appreciate it and it’ll save you frustration from looking for them.
4. Use packing cubes.
Packing cubes make packing and unpacking easier because everything is packed according to category. When you’re digging through your suitcase, you know to look for a certain bag. This especially helps when you’re traveling to multiple cities and need to re-pack your suitcase.
5. Bring extra bags for laundry.
I always bring extra plastic grocery bags to pack away dirty clothes. This is helpful when you’re moving from place to place with your suitcase and need to put clean and dirty clothes in the same suitcase.
6. Roll don’t fold.
To save room in your suitcase and to decrease the number of wrinkles in your clothes, roll your clothes instead of folding them.
7. Lay out your clothes then put some away.
I’ve come to find that I don’t actually need as many clothes as I pack and I come home with unworn clothes. Remember that pieces can be worn again and they can be washed. Re-wear bottoms with different tops. Bring fewer pairs of shoes.
8. Don’t check essential items.
If you’re checking bags, don’t pack essential items in your checked bag. Things like valuable items, medication, and prescription glasses should always be with you so they don’t get lost. It’s always a good idea to pack a clean pair of underwear and an outfit with you in case your checked luggage is lost in route.
9. Pack a scarf/cardigan/light jacket.
I usually get uncomfortably cold in airports, airplanes, and with the slightest cold wind, so I make sure I have a cardigan with me. This is also helpful if your destination has unexpected lower temps. You’ll prevent the discomfort and scrambling to buy a warmer layer.
10. Leave suitcase space for souvenirs.
If you plan on bringing home souvenirs, be sure to leave space in your suitcase as you’re packing so that you’re not struggling to fit more in when you’re returning. Wrap souvenirs in clothes if they are breakable.
Below is a simple packing list to print out as you pack. This is tailored more for a warm weather trip, so you won’t see heavy coats, sweaters, and boots.
What are your packing hacks?