12 Packing Tips For Smart Travelers
Hi fellow travelers! As we all know, going on a trip requires a certain adventurousness, as well as organizational skills. It’s really a mix of these two things. If you’re not ready for something a little different, you probably won’t go. But, if you have no ability to stay organized – you might just miss your flight!
There’s nothing wrong with flying by the seat of your pants, but if you like to keep things a little more organized, here are 12 great travel tips that will make your big (or little) vacation go a lot smoother for you and your whole family!
1. How To Pack A Suitcase – Rolling Vs Folding
Retail stores have been using this trick for years in their stock rooms to fit more clothes. Simply roll up your clothes instead of folding them to fit more in your bag!
If you’re taking a plane, taking a great piece of light weight carry-on luggage can make a big difference as well.
Rolling up your clothes properly is also a great way to keep your outfits together. Place your socks, underwear, and shirts on top of your pants. Then, roll them up to keep the outfit together, and save space in your bag.
Here is Smart Packing’s packing expert Leslie Wilmot to explain a few more “advanced” techniques when it comes to packing a suitcase.
In this video, you can see that Leslie shares with us some really great tips for packing a suitcase when traveling. Nothing too complicated, just common sense stuff that makes sense to try.
Here’s a quick recap of some of her excellent packing tips:
- Rolling clothes is good, folding clothes is also good, depending on circumstances (but rolling is better)
- The rolling technique is good for things like denims (jeans), knits, and synthetic fabrics, as well as other less-wrinkling fabrics
- Rolling is a better technique to pack a duffle bag or backpack, because you can get more in there
- For T-Shirts, roll from the hem up to the neckline, folding the sleeves inward
- T-Shirts can be stored in a zip-lock bag to help keep them all together, and save space as well
- For pants, fold them in half lengthwise, and then roll from the waist down from the hem and smoothing as you go – don’t forget to roll tightly!
- With a skirt, fold it into thirds, and then roll from the waist to the hem
- For an item that wrinkles easily, put it in a dry cleaners bag to lessen the wrinkles, fold the sides in, and then roll it as you would a shirt from the waist to the neckline again
2. How To Pack Your Electronics When Traveling
One quick way to speed up your time in the security line is to pack anything they might need to take a look at, on top. That includes your laptop, toiletries, and any other electronics. Your fellow airport travelers will also appreciate the speediness as you move through the security line, and security is less likely to rummage through your bag, messing up your clothes in the process.
Here now is a video, by Vanessa Hayes from Get Simplified (getsimplified.com) to explain to us a number of other handy electronics-packing techniques.
Vanessa has tons of great tips here involving packing electronics for traveling purposes! Lets go over some of them again:
- Use the “figure 8” technique when it comes to winding cords, which is easy and unwinds quickly with no tangles (refer to video)
- Rubber bands, twist ties, or velcro strips are also great for winding up cords
- Liberally use labels with electronic parts, since then you’ll always know which part is which, and if two parts get separated, you know what is what
- Labeled zip lock bags come in handy once again, as you can easily label them and put smaller bags of components inside of larger ones
- Vanessa recommends the Grid-It System, which is an organizer with snug little elastic bands, which can keep all of your small parts and devices securely in place and together – The Grid-It also includes a thin pocket on the back, that can fit a wireless keyboard or a thin iPad
3. Make a DIY single use toothpaste or lotion carrier
Why bring a whole tube of toothpaste or a bottle of lotion just to have it confiscated in the security line?
It’s easy to make a single use toothpaste or lotion holder. All you’ll need is a straw, scissors, lighter, and pliers.
Make sure the straw isn’t too thin, or else you won’t be able to get the toothpaste in there.
A Few Quick Steps
- First, cut the straw in half and fill it with enough toothpaste for one brush.
- Then pinch the end of the straw with your pliers.
- Finally, heat the end of the straw with your lighter to seal it.
Here’s a video showing how to get your own travel toothpaste carrier!
This also works well for travel-sized condiment containers.
Check out this video with some simple instructions on how this kind of thing can be easily done as well.
4. Store your hairpins in a tic tac container
Tic Tacs are only a few cents – actually more like a dollar to buy, but we like to think of tic tac containers as tiny little luggage containers.
Not only will your breath smell great, but you will also have a neat little container to store your hairpins, earrings, and small accessories that could easily be lost in your luggage.
Never lose your wedding ring while frolicking in the ocean again! Thanks Tic Tacs 🙂
Here are 10 more ways to re-purpose your Tic Tac containers, with some applying specifically to traveling, and some simply being great ideas in their own rite such as:
- Stash bobby pins
- Hold hair ties
- Stow spices
- Corral office supplies
- Store beads
- Wrangle ribbons
- Stash matches
- Organize seeds
- Keep track of buttons
- Entertain with a game
5. Plastic bags are your best friend
Clothes take up a lot of space in your bag because they are filled with air. By placing your clothes in a large ziploc bag and removing the air, you can really compress them and save some space. Don’t have a vacuum? Use a straw to suck the air out.
In addition, plastic zip-lock bags are a great way to wash your clothes while you’re on vacation. If you have at least one big zip-lock bag, as well as some Dr. Bronner’s soap, you’re in business.
Here is a video by Allison Levine which demonstrates step-by-step the way this can be done:
6. Buy some clothes at your final destination
When in Rome… dress as the Romans. Well, wearing a toga on your next vacation might be taking it too far. But if you purchase some of your clothes at your final destination instead of bringing them with you, you’ll save space and have some nice souvenirs for the trip home.
Plus, you won’t look like a tourist if you dress like the locals. If you’re traveling to another country, where the dress is significantly different from the place you’re coming from, then it really is a good idea to think about wearing some of the customary garb from that locale.
Here is a video showing some of the unique fashion trends you’ll find when you travel the world. Maybe this will give you an idea or two!
7. Swap your bean bag neck pillow for an inflatable one
Neck pillows, or neck braces, are great for allowing you to get some sleep on the plane, but if they’re not inflatable, then they will take up more room in your bag.
Try using an inflatable neck pillow to save space, like the one pictured on the left by Lewis. N. Clark. It is extremely well-rated by customers and affordable to buy.
Here is a video to show how these inflatable neck braces work. They are invaluable to travellers, as they give you full support and you won’t wake up after a flight with a kink in your neck that will only add to the annoying jet lag you are likely to get as well. Definitely worth looking into.
8. Get free stuff from the hotel front desk
Don’t bother packing deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, or disposable razor. “But won’t I be a stinky mess?” No! All of these things can be had for free if you ask the front desk of your hotel. Sometimes, you can even get a free iPhone charger from the lost and found – hundreds are forgotten in hotel rooms every day.
Alternatively, you can buy most of these things when you get to your destination, and throw them away before the return trip to save space.
Here is a video showing some interesting facts you may not have heard about hotels:
9. Follow the 3:1:1 rule
The TSA has a special rule when it comes to carrying liquids. You are allowed to fit as many 3oz (3.4oz if you want to be technical) bottles of liquid in a 1 quart bag, with 1 bag allowed per passenger.
This rule includes semi-liquids too, like lotions, toothpaste, and gels.
Here is a video outlining the 3.1.1. rule as well:
And here is another video which shows you how to pack a TSA-approved toiletries carry on bag:
10. Layer your clothes
What you “carry on” doesn’t have to be limited to your carry-on. Wear a jacket in the airport to free up some space in your bag, tie a sweatshirt around your waist, and wear a hat in line.
You will be asked to remove the jacket and accessories in the security line, which can slow things down, but at least you will save some space in your bag.
11. Save time in line with TSA Pre Check
TSA Pre Check is a new program that has been adopted at over 150 airports, and by all of the major U.S. airlines.
If you are approved for this program, there’s no need to remove laptops, liquids, jackets, belts, or other items from your bag.
With this program you enter a special expedited security line and cut down your waiting time!
12. Weigh your bag on the bathroom scale
Make sure to check your bag’s weight on the bathroom scale before you get to the airport. If the bag weighs less than 50 lbs, or is smaller than 62 inches in dimension, it’s considered normal size for bag check. This size could be free, or a small fee depending on your airline. Anything over that is universally considered over the maximum weight, and will incur additional charges.