After traveling for a living for nearly a decade, we've surely learned a lot when it comes to packing. While I always personally struggle with overpacking, I've found so many packing tips for travelers that really have saved me so much time and money!
Whether you are looking to more efficiently pack your bags, or simply learns tricks to make your life easier as a traveler, we've got you covered! You no longer need to dread the process, and can look forward to lighter, stress-free travels!
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1. Make a Packing List
The key to packing efficiently, first and foremost, is to avoid bringing things you don't need, and to not forget the things you do need!
Packing lists may seem silly, but they help us so much, and are sure they can help you too. First we list all the toiletries we need, then clothing, electronics, and documents/money related items.
Sometimes I even plan my outfits so that I don't bring extra clothes or shoes that I don't need. Bonus- Try to pack clothes that can be used in multiple ways!
2. Check the Weather
Depending on where you're traveling will make a huge difference on what you should pack! Is the weather super humid? If so, maybe you can ditch the hair straightener, and get some extra hair ties for braids, or gel/mousse to tame the frizz instead. Is it going to rain? Maybe you should pack a waterproof poncho or mini umbrella.
Weather plays a huge part in a trip, and not being prepared for it will only inconvenience you later. We also suggest checking blogs to see activities. For example, even if you are visiting somewhere cold, they may have hot springs, in which case you won't want to forget to bring a bathing suit.
3. Look Into the Hotel Amenities
Does the hotel have a blow dryer? Do they provide towels? Are shampoo and conditioner included in the room? Can you get an iron? All of these things can be potential space savers if your hotel includes them. If your hotel doesn't include any of them though, that's okay too! Just opt for mini versions, such as a travel blower or iron instead of bringing your home version.
4. Buy Refillable Liquid Containers
In any item you are going to bring on the plane, you are only allowed to bring liquids of sizes 100 ml (3 oz) or less. This means you'll need to have to travel with "travel-sized" versions of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, or anything else that is not solid. This isn't just limited to liquids, but includes aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes of any kind.
Travel-sized liquids tend to run pretty pricey for the amount that they give you though! The solution? You can buy packs of small travel-sized containers for your liquids. Many of them even have labels so that you don't mix up things such as you shampoo with you sunscreen (trust us= it's not fun!).
Even if you plan on checking a bag, full-sized bottles can be pretty heavy, taking up your weight allowance unnecessarily. I mean, unless you're traveling for a few months, you definitely won't need bottles that big! Also, by having smaller liquid bottles in your carry-on you'll allow for more room and weight in your checked bag- so its' a win-win!
5. Separate Your Liquids
The pressure from the altitude while flying often makes bottles explode, which can be a catastrophe while traveling with liquids. Nothing ruins the hard work of packing like having your shampoo erupt all over your clothes! For this reason it's super important to separate your liquids from the rest of your belongings. We usually put them in a separate case, a ziplock bag, or some kind of plastic bag.
6. Travel With Ziploc Bags
Ziploc bags aren't just great for protecting your liquids from the rest of your belongings. but many airports actually require that your liquids are put into a ziplock bag. It's always better to be prepared in case you find yourself in an airport that is a bit on the stricter side so that you avoid the chance of having your liquids thrown out at security.
7. Put Plastic Inside the Caps of Your Liquids
Even by keeping your liquids separate, it's definitely no fun when one of your bottles leaks all over the other. Another one of our favorite tricks and packing tips for travelers is to take an extra step to avoid your liquids exploding.
We often times take off the caps of our bottles, wrap the bottle or cap in plastic, and then put the lid back on. This means that even if the pressure from the plane bursts open the bottles, the liquids will stay in the bottle.
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8. Freeze Your Liquids
This is truly one of my favorite packing tips for travelers, and is something that I have been doing for over 15 years.
Did you know that you actually can take liquids over 100 ml (3 oz) if they are frozen? That's right= by just changing the state of something you can technically take it on the plane with you! This has been tested in various airports by me, and proven to work every time. When I was in college I craved food from home, so every time I would go back to New York my Grandma would fill giant Tupperware containers with her homemade sauce for me to bring down to South Carolina with me.
I actually used to do it so often that some of the TSA officers started recognizing me for my little trick! This can be for a water bottle, your favorite sports drink, or even a special sauce that you want to purchase while traveling.
9. Attach Things to Your Backpack
Your backpack can only be so big while traveling, and can only fit so much inside. So how do we bring more without going over the limit? Well, one of our packing tips for travelers (especially backpackers) is to attach things on the outside of your backpack!
We usually tie our sneakers to the outside, or use carabiners to attach things such as water bottles or other busy items. Our tripod also takes up a ton of room, so we always attach it to the bottom of our backpack so that they don't try to consider it as our personal item.
When it comes to choosing a backpack, it's important that you maximize your space, and have as many compartments and straps on the outside as possible. We've created a list of some great backpacks for travelers, so that you can pack better than ever!
10. Use a Travel Pillow Case
Speaking of a personal item- did you know that you can actually have an extra free personal item? Pillows are allowed on flights free of charge, which means you don't need to sacrifice space or comfort.
But what if you could also use the pillow case to store more clothing? Well, welcome to the Travel Pillow Case, a Scratch Your Mapa Creation. We've created a pillow case for you to put your clothes, so that you can save space, and also have a comfy flight- a win-win!
Unlike regular pillow cases, we've chosen a soft and fluffy fabric that is comfy, but that also disguises potential bumps, that would seem suspicious. It also zips so that your clothes don't fall out, and has a pocket on the inside for your passport!
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11. Roll Your Clothes
When it comes to packing tips for travelers, it's important to utilize the little space we have to it's best! That's why the way you fold your clothes can make a big impact on the space that you use inside your luggage. Rolling your clothes is the most space-efficient technique, and it also makes it easy to be able to pick out your clothing if you aren't planning on unpacking in your destination.
12. Bring a Travel Laundry Bag
While you're traveling you'll need to find a place to put your dirty clothes. While I used to use random plastic bags, I've learned that that definitely isn't exactly one of the best ways to be an eco-friendly traveler. Now I use a very thin laundry bag. It helps me keep my dirty clothes separate from my clean clothes, and when I get home I just throw the bag in with my clothes to clean it at the same time.
Traveling is one of the greatest gifts in the world, but it can also make some negative impacts on the environment. That's why each of us is dedicated to becoming a more eco-friendly traveler in 2023!It's the little things that make a difference, and each and every person out there can help reduce their carbon footprint to keep our planet beautiful. That way, we can keep enjoying the stunning places
13. Where Your Biggest/ Heaviest Shoes
Shoes take up a ton of room! So it's important to try to limit the amount of bulky shoes in your luggage. First of all, make sure to leave them in your carry-on, as they can be quite heavy.
Second, we suggest wearing whatever shoes take up the most room or are the heaviest. For example, I usually wear flip flops everywhere, but as they are small and lighter, I'll opt to wear boots (if I'm bringing any) or sneakers, which tend to take up more room.
14. Stuff Things into Your Shoes
Speaking of shoes taking up a lot of room- if you are going to bring shoes that take up room, you may as well use them to your advantage!
Put your shoes in first, and then stuff your socks or small garments like underwear inside them. I've even stuffed small toiletry bottles inside my sneakers.
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15. Use Packing Cubes
This has to be one of Fede's favorite packing trips for travelers. For him, organization is everything, and packing cubes are a life-saver!
Packing cubes come in various sizes, and help you organize your clothing in the most efficient way possible. This will not only help you save space, but will make it so much easier when you are looking for your clothes.
A bonus? There are packing cubes that are able to be compressed! They'll have a second zipper, so that when you zip it, it will compress everything inside the packing cube. This is super helpful, and has saved us a ton of space in our luggage while traveling.
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16. Put the Heaviest Items in Your Carry-On
If you happen to be checking a bag, you'll want to make sure that you are properly allocating your items between your checked luggage and carry-on. One of our most basic but important packing tips for travelers is to lighten your checked luggage as much as possible, so we always put the heaviest items in our carry-ons or in our personal items.
Something important to keep in mind is that some budget airlines actually weigh your carry-on though! We suggest checking this in advance, and if that's the case to reallocate those heavy items to your smallest piece (aka your personal item, or your travel pillow case).
17. Check Luggage Requirements
While we're on the topic of checking requirements for carry-ons, checking luggage requirements is extremely important! Every airline has different requirements, and there is nothing worse than showing up with a bag that is too big to be considered a carry-on, or a piece of luggage that is several kilos heavier than is actually allowed.
If you know you're going to be traveling on the heavier side, we suggest double checking the airlines regulations before even booking your ticket. We learned this the hard way.
The thing is that many budget airlines have super tight restrictions for luggage, so if you're a heavier packer, you may end up spending more money in the long run Some. airlines to be particularly aware of are Spirit, SouthWest, and Frontier in the US, and Ryan Air, Easy Jet, or Wizz Air in Europe.
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18. Upgrade Your Flight Ticket
It may sound crazy- I mean, why would you upgrade your ticket if you are trying to save money? Well, sometimes the difference in price of upgrading your flight will actually save you, than if you arrive to the counter and have to individually pay for each item.
The thing is, those with better tickets have more perks, and that often-times translates to luggage. We've noticed many times when traveling with budget airless, if you upgrade to "Pro" it may just be another $20, whereas adding another piece of luggage may cost the same or more. In addition, we've noticed that when you have a "better" ticket, gate agents tend to be much kinder and are more likely to overlook your bag being overweight.
Another great example of this was when I was traveling with Qatar Airways. While they are by no means a budget airline, their baggage fees are extortionate! I was traveling with two suitcases, and figured I'd just have to pay another $100 or so for an extra piece.
Well, I was sadly mistaken to find out that for the extra piece of luggage they charged $30/lb, which means I would have had to pay $1,000! Insane right? Instead I upgraded to first class (another $400).
So I saved myself from the extra few hundred dollars and got a much nicer flying experience in addition. Here's also another reason that double checking the luggage restrictions before flying is so important.
19. Buy a Luggage Scale
A luggage scale may just be one of my favorite travel gifts I have ever received. Baggage is not easy to weigh, so having a tiny device that will weigh your luggage will make sure that you are in compliance before your flight, rather than showing up and praying that your luggage isn't overweight.
20. Layer Up
This is one of the packing tips for travelers that I tend to use the most. It's crazy to think that airlines care so much about what you carry on you, but couldn't care less about what you actually wear (which is basically the same thing!).
If I'm going overboard with my weight and have already done every other packing hack in the book, I'll actually layer myself up with tons of clothes. I've gone as far as wearing 4 pairs of leggings, 5 skirts, dresses, multiple tops, you name it. Layering up not only saves you a tons of space and weight, but it keeps you warm in those freezing airports and airplanes!
21. Bring a Extra Change of Clothes in Your Carry-on
Have you ever been on a flight where you missed your connection or a leg of your flight got cancelled? Well we have! and multiple times, actually. That's why we learned that being prepared for anything is super important.
There's nothing worse than having to spend the night somewhere unexpectedly, and feeling absolutely disgusting because you have to sleep in the same clothes. Make sure to always have an extra pair of underwear, socks, and outfit in case your flight doesn't go according to plan, and some small toiletries as well.
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22. The Burrito Trick
This may sound weird, but you can actually learn to pack better from making a burrito. Yes, you read that right.
Turns out the principals are the same! When you're folding a burrito, you're supposed to grab & lift the sides of the tortilla, push them towards the center (where the filling is), and then spread the filling to the sides.
The same way, whenever you have a rebel zipper in your bag, you can "push, and spread" it. Simply grab the sides of it, push towards the center of your bag, and spread your clothes so that your zipper can now run freely.
If you're still a bit confused, check out this video where Fede shows you the Burrito Technique!
23. Car Trick (for road trips)
What if I told you that there's almost always extra space in your trunk that you're not using? Yup, there's a lot more that most people know, and today you'll learn about it.
See, what usually happens is that people put their luggage at the bottom of the trunk (against the back seat). What they don't realize is that the backseat lays on an angle! This creates a triangular space that no suitcase can fit.
What you can do, instead, is to pack your trunk normally, and when it's full, go to the backseat and press on the buttons they have on the side. This will release the lock that allows you to access the trunk from inside the car, and you'll see the extra space.
Now all you have left to do is to add soft luggage in the empty, extra space you just found! Once again, check out Fede's Car Packing Tutorial.
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24. Book Your Tickets with Luggage Included
Did you know that many third parties have cheaper tickets simply because they do not include luggage? It used to be assumed that international flights included a checked bag, but that is no longer always the case.
If you plan on using a third-party site, check the luggage included before hand. Sometimes we even noticed that those third party sites then try to get you to purchase luggage for a higher rate than the airlines even charge!
In this case, we always suggest going directly to the company's site to see their luggage policy, and to book directly through them.
25. Book Luggage Separately (Not in a Bundle)
Another thing you may notice with airlines recently is that when choosing your tickets, there will be a few different options. While it used to be customary to simply add a bag to your ticket, many airlines now offer bundles.
It will appear that if you want a checked bag you'll have to upgrade to a more premium ticket. However, many of these bundles include things that you may not be interested in such as choosing your seat or priority boarding.
If this interests you, than choosing a bundle may be the option for you. However, if all you want is a bag, then you can normally just choose the most basic ticket, and add your bags at the end, ultimately saving you some money.
26. Book Luggage While Checking in (Before the Airport)
Sometimes airlines don't let you add your bags while booking your ticket. Perhaps you booked a ticket and didn't realize that it didn't include luggage, or maybe you ended up buying a ton while traveling and need to add a bag. Whatever the case may be, adding a bag is always cheaper earlier than later.
Never wait until you get to the airline counter to purchase another bag, but add it while checking in! It may not be as cheap as purchasing it with your flight ticket, but it will certainly be cheaper than them charging you at the gate.
27. Get a Smart Luggage Tag for Your Baggage
Losing your luggage is a complete nightmare! Luckily, now there are ways for us to track our luggage, so that we can know exactly where it is. Air Tags by Apple or the Dino Smart Luggage Tag are two examples of items you can add to your suitcase in order to track their location via GPS, and they're the ultimate peace of mind while traveling.
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28. Check Local Restrictions
Did you know there are certain things that are restricted in certain countries? Well, there is nothing worse than traveling somewhere and getting flagged the moment you arrive. This is exactly what happened to us in Jordan, and why we think it's important to add to our list of packing tips for travelers.
Drones are a prime example of something that is not welcome in certain countries, particularly in many Middle Eastern ones. Many countries will not let you bring them in, and will actually charge you if they need to confiscate it from you! While we did get ours back, it was unnecessary space we packed, money that was wasted, and we also had significant delays during our arrival and and departure process.
If you plan on traveling with anything that you may think could be considered as a conflict of interest, then make sure to double check in advance so you don't run into any issues like we did.
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There are so many great packing tips for travelers that can make a huge difference saving time and money. We use these 28, but will be regularly updating this for any fun new tricks we happen to come by! Want to learn more travel hacks? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter where we give exclusive content, as well as discounts for our products and services.
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