If you have ever overpacked on a trip, or the whole process of packing a suitcase overwhelms you, then you definitely need these genius travel packing tips and tricks for your next trip.
Years ago, I just couldn’t be bothered with learning how to pack a suitcase, how to pack, or even how to cleverly fit in more items in my check-in bags.
I used to leave that task to my boyfriend because one- I was too lazy to do it and two- he was simply brilliant at packing a suitcase.
Fast forward many years later to today. I now know how to pack a suitcase with astounding ease.
Well, I will let you in on how I refined my suitcase packing skills. You see, I am now a mom to two teenagers, and between the time my girls were born and today, we have taken a lot of trips.
And tell me I’m not alone on this. On several occasions, I would sit on my suitcase, so that I could properly zip it up.
The details of how toys were forgotten on one trip and easily remembered on the next, or how we overpacked on one vacation and within checked baggage allowance, is a story for another day.
But this I will tell you now. Traveling with and without kids has taught me clever travel packing tips and tricks.
Knowing how to pack your suitcase is an essential part of a worry-free vacation or business trip.
Smart travel packing tips and tricks that will change the way you travel
1. Make an essential packing list
Before you start packing, plan the outfits for each day of the trip. If you are traveling with kids, lay out what the child/ren will wear say on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, etc., until the last day of the vacation.
Once that is done jot down the clothing items you will also need in a similar order, then add to the list extras such as toiletries, books, or gadgets that you might need while away.
For efficiency, divide your list into categories such as clothing and footwear, essential toiletries, medication, hair and beauty, gadgets, snacks (if you’ll need them), entertainment, and miscellaneous items.
2. Choose the right travel luggage
The average weight for a carry-on (20-21 inches) is about 7.9 lbs, the weight of a medium case (24-25 inches) is about 11.9 lbs, while a large checked-in suitcase (28-29 inches) weighs about 17lbs.
If your empty suitcase weighs more than average, then you will already be restricted on how much you can bring along on your trip, especially if you will be flying.
There are plenty of stylish, lightweight suitcases available at reasonable prices.
To ensure that you don’t pay for extra baggage if your trip is by air, always check your airline about their baggage fees and policies.
Samsonite has stunning spacious and lightweight luggage which you can use for both business and personal travel.
3. Roll your clothes
Now that we have sorted the essential packing list, and given you insight on the best suitcase to travel with, let’s unpack the best travel packing tips and tricks.
Did you know that rolling clothes creates more space than flat packing or folding?
Not only that, rolling clothes tightly will help keep your clothes wrinkle-free, as well as make you look like you are a super-organized person even when you are not. (This is where I shine!)
Rolling clothes also makes it much easier for you to find items in your suitcase than if the clothes were flat packed.
To avoid clothes creasing, always smooth the fabric as tight as possible as you roll.
4. Turn your clothes inside out
If any of your clothes got stained by chance, it would be much easier to wipe off the stain if the clothes were turned inside out.
Turning your clothes inside out will also keep them wrinkle-free.
5. Pack shoes and heavy items close to the wheels
Placing heavy items next to the wheels will help distribute the weight evenly by keeping the center of gravity low.
If you are a bookworm like me and prefer reading paper books than e-copies, then you should pack your books and any other heavy item near the suitcase wheels.
You will seriously appreciate this genius travel packing hack especially because your luggage is bound to last for years.
6. Pack bras the correct way
The weight of the items inside your suitcase might crush the molded cups of your bras.
Best way to pack bras in luggage is by stacking them together so that they don’t get flattened or lose shape.
Another smart packing tip to ensure your bras stay in shape is to invest in an amply sized bra travel case like this one.
By the way, you’ll also be saving space by placing the bras on top of each other.
7. Protect breakables by packing them inside the shoes & socks
Shove breakable items inside the shoes and socks for extra padding and protection.
Also stuffing socks inside the shoes, (if you don’t have any breakables to place inside) will prevent shoes from getting squashed and looking old and worn out.
8. Take the crazy out of your suitcase with packing cubes
If you’re not naturally talented at keeping things nice and tidy but would like to keep things under control inside your bag, then you should consider getting yourself packing cubes.
Packing cubes will be your effortless and fastest transition from a complete messy suitcase, to a perfectly organized one. Yep, they are that incredible!
The secret to buying the best packing cubes is picking non-compression cubes because your clothes will all be wrinkled by the time you reach your destination.
You should also look for packing cubes made out of lightweight fabric, in multiple sizes.
9. Use a shower cap as a shoe bag to prevent your shoes from getting dirty
Who would have thought that those numerous disposable shower caps hotels dish out are actually useful?
It turns out they really are.
That’s one more reason for you to take those hotel shower caps home.
Hear me out on why they’ve made it to the list of travel packing tips and tricks.
At one point, while packing your bag, you’ll realize that the soles of one or two pairs of your shoes are dirty.
What to do? Well, if you happen to have shower caps, put the filthy shoes in a shower cap and Bob’s your uncle.
If you are yet to steal a shower cap, then you can just use any plastic bag lying around in your home, to pack your shoes in.
Next time you are in a hotel room, remember that a shower cap can conveniently be used as a shoe bag to prevent your shoes from getting dirty.
Quick packing tips for international travel
10. Keep medicines in their original containers
When traveling with medication internationally, it is highly advisable to keep medicines in the original containers, even if they are over-the-counter.
If carrying prescription meds, you’ll need to bring along a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor.
In some countries, you run the risk of having your meds confiscated, or worse still, face prosecution for drug trafficking if you fail to comply with their border security regulations, even for OTC pills.
What may be legal in one country might be illegal in another country. For instance, some inhalers, allergy, and sinus medications are illegal in Japan.
I would highly advise that you contact your destination country’s embassy and check with them on what’s allowed and what isn’t.
At USA airport security, however, you are allowed to have the medicine in the carry-on or check-in bag and don’t need to inform TSA officers unless your meds are in liquid form.
11. Packing your travel documents for international travel
You should ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel.
You also need to check with the visa requirements for the country you are traveling, including stopovers.
Make copies of your passport, visas and insurance cover and tuck them away in another bag. Once you reach your destination, lock away the copies in a safe.
You should also scan and email yourself copies of the documents.
12. Saving space in your suitcase
International flights are known hefty baggage fees if you go over the tight limit.
Years ago, on a flight from Heathrow to Lusaka, I realized at the airport that I was way over my baggage allowance and had to decide under pressure, what to literally throw away.
My heart still breaks at how many items I had to get rid of because I couldn’t afford the massive fine.
Someone behind me on the line advised me to put on my heaviest coats, and shoes to reduce the weight.
My seasoned advice is that if you have bulky items and can get away with putting them on, then by all means do. You can take the jackets and boots off once on the plane.