Have you ever arrived at your travel destination and realized that not only did you forget your toothbrush, but there’s also no razor, no deodorant, and no underwear? What about the dreaded toothpaste leakage all over your clothes?
Travel packing can seem like a pretty basic part of the traveling experience for frequent travelers, but a poor packing job can turn a dream trip into a nightmare quickly! It’s literally hectic work for most of us.
Are you wondering how to pack light or looking for smart essential travel packing tips for minimalist traveling? You’ve landed in the right place!
These travel tips on how to pack lighter will help to eliminate the hassle of a forgotten item, maximize your space, and make sure you are looking – and smelling – your very best every day! You’ll also save on luggage weight limits at airports and cruise lines.
You can use these great packing tips to make your travel convenient whether you’re taking a family vacation, visiting Europe, or heading off on a business trip.
Table of Contents
- 13 Essential Packing Tips for Travel
- 1. Take Half the Clothes You Think You’ll Need
- 2. Pack Smart
- 3. Don’t Take Luggage You Must Check
- 4. Travel Light
- 5. Use Hotel Equipment and Amenities
- 6. Don’t Be Afraid To Mix and Match
- 7. Pack the Tablet
- 8. Avoid Jeans
- 9. If You Don’t Need It, Don’t Take It
- 10. Leave Jewelry at Home
- 11. Leave the Shampoo At Home
- 12. Mark Your Bags
- 13. Prepare for the Plane Ride
- 14. Checked Luggage
- Final Thoughts
13 Essential Packing Tips for Travel
“How to pack light smart essential travel packing tips for minimalist traveling” I hear you hammering away at your keyboard. Fear, not dauntless traveler, for I am here with the gen.
1. Take Half the Clothes You Think You’ll Need
That’s right; HALF.
It’s incredibly easy to pack your entire wardrobe for a three-day trip. Trust me, I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. I think I’m going to wear all my stuff, and I end up wearing the same three outfits I wear every single day at home.
The biggest packing tips advice we can give is that you really don’t need as many clothes as you think you’ll need. Of course, pack the essentials (like underwear and socks), but you don’t need 10 pairs of pants for a 10-day holiday. Really, do you wear that many when you’re at home?
Here’s a handy packing tip I try to remember for packing light: pack what you think you’re going to need and then eliminate half of that. This saves space for business trips and is one of the best tips I’ve gotten.
As a complement to this travel packing tips rule, you might also hear advice that says take twice the money you plan on taking. That’s relevant advice too because withdrawal fees outside of your country can be astronomical.
2. Pack Smart
Between packing cubes, plastic bags, and compression cubes, there are lots of packing tips to get everything you need all buttoned up into one bag. Rolling clothes is one of the best packing tips I’ve ever gotten. It’s amazing how much more room is available when you roll instead of fold when packing things.
I always put zippered plastic bags (the gallon-size ones) on my packing list. They can be used to hold wet bathing suits, dirty clothes, walking shoes, and much more.
Packing cubes are a great way to organize and save space for luggage essentials and clothing items. You can use one of the packing cubes for underwear, one for t-shirts, one for shorts … you get the picture. Then, all you need to do is stack the packing cubes in your suitcase or carry-on bag. Easy!
Another way to pack efficiently is with compression bags. They take up less space by allowing you to compress items down into a vacuum-packed bag. Use them for your bulkiest clothing items, such as ski gear, to pack efficiently. Then, you can place it in your carry-on or checked bag with ease.
Both packing cubes and compression bags are high on our list as some of the most efficient packing tips to save space in your suitcase. Use them to pack clothes and bulky items as well as store dirty laundry and maximize space on your return trip. You can also use a simple plastic bag to store dirty laundry and shoes.
See Related: Travel Tips for Visiting Mexico on a Budget
3. Don’t Take Luggage You Must Check
A carry-on bag is the best bag as far as a great packing tip goes. By packing just your carry-on bag, you’ll save upwards of $100 in excess baggage fees if you’re flying. You’ll also save time because you won’t have to worry about the hassle of waiting at baggage claim for the carousel to get fired up.
Of course, if you’ve scored a free checked bag, go for it!
Frequent travelers will agree that forgoing checked luggage and going with carry-on luggage means you’ll end up taking a little less with you. Pack travel-size laundry detergent for emergencies and you won’t even need to worry about extra clean clothes (but you will need to worry about having laundry facilities at your service).
4. Travel Light
If you’re not taking a long trip, or you can get by on very little, you may be fine with a minimalist backpack as a carry-on bag. Slender in profile, it can hold a laptop, a change of clothes, and a few travel essentials, allowing you to grab and go when the time comes. Additionally, it has a headphone and a USB charging port for convenience.
It’s basically like something out of Star Wars.
See Related: Ways To Prepare Your Child For a Hike
5. Use Hotel Equipment and Amenities
Just about every hotel room these days has an ironing board, an iron, a microwave, a small fridge, and a hairdryer in the room. If you’re skimping on costs and staying at a value motel, you’ll still get a coffeepot, the hairdryer, and the iron in most cases.
Instead of packing all your small appliances when you’re travel packing, save room by using the equipment that you’ll find when you get there. If you get surprised and there isn’t any equipment, then the “I just got off the plane and there was a lot of turbulence,” excuse works pretty well too.
That shower cap that’s usually in a hotel bathroom comes in really handy to cover the bottom of shoes that have been hiking through dirt and mud. Of course, you can also use the shower cap as it’s intended. Who are we to judge?
And if you’re about whine about “how nothing ever works in hotels”, have you considered calling the front desk? Just a thought.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Mix and Match
Mixing and matching outfits is essential to maximizing your packing space. Traveling gives you the chance to experiment a little bit with the concept of the uber-chic capsule wardrobe.
If you pack just four shirts and four pants that work equally well with each other, you’ve got 16 unique outfits that you can wear during your trip! Think of it as a capsule wardrobe for your travel packing needs.
You might not want to match the green plaid shirt with the seersucker shorts, of course, so plan accordingly as you pack so that outfits can coordinate for you. Our packing tips can’t accommodate for poor judgment. If you do end up with a weird ensemble, just remember that you probably won’t ever see any of those fellow travelers ever again.
7. Pack the Tablet
It’s shabby chic to have every travel book with you for the destinations that you’re visiting, but it’s more efficient to load your tablet up with ebooks instead. Yes, we love that book smell, but traveling isn’t the time to indulge in book smells. You want efficiency, and this packing list is going to exclude the traditional book.
As an added benefit, the modern tablet can give you GPS functionality, restaurant reviews, translation apps, and so much more that you almost can’t leave home without it. You can always check your email and update your social media status during your trip as well if you want or need to.
The tablet really comes in handy when you’ve forgotten your underwear and need to find a store close by that can help you pick up a couple of pairs!
See Related: Reasons To Book Your Trip
8. Avoid Jeans
Jeans look good and are sturdy, and if you’re doing a lot of hiking somewhere, they’ll likely be needed. If you can avoid taking them, however, then do so because you’ll lose a lot of packing space with each pair. And we’re on a journey to packing light and creating extra space, remember?
The worst part about jeans is that they are like a sponge for the odors that you encounter on your journey. It can take at least three wash cycles to get that travel odor out of your clothes and your carry-on when you get back home!
Speaking of odors, dryer sheets in the luggage or duffel bag helps cut down on moldy smells.
9. If You Don’t Need It, Don’t Take It
Pickpockets are in every community and they like to target tourists because there’s less chance of retribution there than say, swiping a neighbor’s wallet.
Any trip in public means a higher risk of theft. One of our biggest travel tips is to only carry what you need to get by. Memorize the toll-free numbers of your credit/debit cards so you can quickly cancel them if they get into someone else’s hands.
Avoid carrying important items in the traditional back pocket or around the shoulder in a purse too. Those are common places and easy to pick. The upper shirt pocket on the left is a good spot for guys and for women.
A backpack or even a front pack is a better option because it makes thievery about as difficult as finding an adequate tribute shrubbery.
And don’t dress like a tourist!
See Related: Ways To Make Travel Less Stressful
10. Leave Jewelry at Home
Another thing you’ll want to keep off of your packing list is fine jewelry. In addition to the possibility of theft, there’s always the possibility of loss or damage. It’s really not worth it to risk any of that just to look a bit sparkly at dinner.
If there is a certain jewelry item that you must take, wrap it in tissue paper for cushioning and stuff it in a pair of packed walking shoes or an interior pocket.
11. Leave the Shampoo At Home
Those liquid soaps are a difficult thing to take along on any trip because they leak no matter what you do. Even if you put them into a sealed plastic sandwich bag, something invariably rips the bag and you’re stuck with a goopy mess.
Hotel shampoo might not be glamorous, but it is very usable and will help free up a little extra space in the carry-on. Hotel soap fits into this category as well, but you might want to invest in a little lotion when you get there unless you’re staying somewhere posh.
See Related: Ways You Can Make Your Next Trip Fantastic
12. Mark Your Bags
Forget using those “Fragile” stickers on your bags. A bored ramp crew will quickly pounce on that bag if you do check it, and it will become the featured item in a version of luggage football that sounds about as bad [or awesome] as you think.
Seriously, Google it.
Consider marking your bags in a unique way so that you can quickly pick out your luggage from the other luggage of travelers that shop in the same store as you do. There’s nothing worse than making your way through airport security and customs and realizing that the bag in your hands…isn’t. your. bag.
Unless of course, it was the winning bag in a touchdown. That also sucks.
13. Prepare for the Plane Ride
If you’re traveling by plane, you’ll want to add some items to your packing list to make the trip more comfortable. A reusable water bottle, a first aid kit, lip balm, earplugs, a phone/device portable charger, and a neck pillow.
Keep the empty water bottle handy. After you get through security, you can fill it at an airport water fountain rather than pay for incredibly expensive bottled water.
Most airports these days have device charging stations too, so having your phone/tablet/other device charging cord in your carry-on is a big plus.
The neck pillow, while great for the neck and napping, also makes a nice armrest or mobile device holder.
A first aid kit hopefully won’t be needed, but it’s nice to have in the event of a paper cut or minor scratches and scrapes. These days, it’s a good idea to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on as well.
Airline air can be quite drying, which is where the lip balm and water bottle come in handy. You’ll thank us for these small but mighty travel packing tips.
14. Checked Luggage
Some packing tips have indicated that you should wrap your suitcase in plastic wrap to ensure nothing falls out or to prevent damage.
While this may seem like a decent idea, I’m hesitant to do this as it may be a waste of time. Airport security does random checking of luggage, as we all know. If your bag is wrapped in plastic, the plastic is going to get cut off anyway, so why bother? Just pack light and you’ll be fine.
With these travel packing tips, you’ll make your journey a little easier in many different ways. If you have more packing tips to share, please do so. Enjoy your next trip!
With these travel packing tips, you’ll make your journey a little easier in many different ways.
Know of any other time or weight-saving tips? Know how to travel like a minimalist boss? Drop us a line, and enjoy your next trip
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