Practice makes perfect. You will become quicker and more efficient in your travel packing the more you travel and therefore the more you pack. Nevertheless, we should always stay curious because there is always something new to learn. Let's cut the crap and jump right in.
Yes, there are many known ways to "optimize" the amount of space you use in your luggage, like putting socks inside your shoes (if you need an extra pair), folding clothes in a specific way, using packing cubes, using vacuum bags, roll clothes, just to name a few. But do they really work?
If you don't have the time to do the exact same packing hacks while away from home, then forget about them!
I tried all sorts of hacks many times and I always hit the same problem: I do have the time and possibility to pack like that when I leave home, but not while changing accommodations.
- Putting socks inside your shoes works when your socks are clean, afterward I doubt you will want stinky socks outside a plastic bag.
- Folding clothes in a specific manner: means you will have a lot of space when you leave home, but once you use some item you don’t really want to waste time packing everything perfectly, but rather fold quickly and throw it in. If you use a different type of folding technique when packing at home than when packing between accommodations it will be a nightmare to fit everything back in.
- Using packing cubes might help you better organize, but not necessarily to optimize the space. After all, the cubes themselves take some space and also add to the weight of your luggage.
- Vacuum bags really free a lot of space, but you will create a lot of wrinkles on your clothes and you will need to iron everything before wearing it. I would rather go for a walk in the neighborhood than waste time always ironing my clothes.
- I never tried rolling clothes for the obvious reason: they will get wrinkles!
The best travel packing advice to optimize space that we can give is:
Pack everything as you would at an accommodation away from home.
Not convinced yet? Here's another problem that we had many times because of too much space optimization: no more space to pack everything and go back home. Packing in a very optimized way, will not only make your life on the go tough but will also not leave room for anything new. In case you need some warmer clothes or you see a clothing item that you want to buy or perhaps some souvenirs, make sure you leave room for them before leaving your home.
Group Small Items
The biggest mistake I ever did with packing was to spread all the small things like toiletries in the suitcase to fill any empty spaces left between clothes. Yes, space-wise it was optimized at its best, but we had tough times to quickly find what we needed and when we needed it. Some things we thought I forgot to pack, just to find them later when we didn't need them anymore.
Ever since I have had some lightweight small bags that I use to group small things together like toiletries, chargers, socks, and others. They are easy to find and my husband doesn't have to ask me every time where he can find something. You might not need to group socks if you travel just for a few days. For longer trips, however, I recommend using a washing bag. This way you can avoid spreading your clean socks everywhere, and you can also use the bag when you do the laundry.
Pack by How You Intend to Use
Don’t spread your clothes and accessories randomly in your luggage. Try to group them by how you plan to use them. For example, if we have 2 suitcases, we won’t pack by the clicheic “his & hers”. Instead, we group everything by city/casual or sport/hiking clothes and accessories for example. This way we only need to open a single piece of luggage for both of us at a specific moment.
Yes, this can happen if you are traveling by plane and not only. Make sure that all containers that might leak are sealed in a plastic bag. It's so annoying to have your clothes dirty or stained when you get to your destination.
Nobody wants heavy luggage. Besides the number of items you take with you, it also matters how heavy they are. Ideally, you should pack only lightweight items and avoid heavier ones. For example, don’t take a heavyweight hoody if you have a lightweight fleece. If you really need that hoody, then take it on you while in transit instead of inside your luggage.
Take a Towel
I never leave without a clean towel. Dermatologic issues are some of the most annoying, they spread quickly and they are hard to get rid of. We are pretty picky about accommodation and even so, it happens now and then to have towels that are stained or something. For this emergency situation, I always carry a spare towel, but I make sure it is lightweight.
Only What You Need
Take only what you need or items you can’t purchase in case you need them and don't have them. Don’t take any extras. Extra stuff means you will never use it, but you take it just in case. It’s better to purchase something in the slightest case you might need it rather than carry it with you and never use it.
Travel Packing Checklist
Wonder what to pack to not forget something? We created a travel packing checklist that you can print, make your own edits and use. If done properly, packing will make your travel easier and more fun.