8 Killer Packing Hacks To Make Traveling Easier
My tried and tested hacks to make packing (and traveling) way easier, and help you pack more in less space.
If you don’t have a system in place, packing can end up being a frustrating activity. Whether it’s for a well-deserved vacation or a last-minute business trip, packing can cause massive anxiety for almost anyone. For most women, it’s not the act of folding clothes that we hate so passionately, it’s the “selection” process – or should I call it, the “process of elimination.” The idea that somehow, in some way, something we may need while we’re away might get left behind is more stressful than we’d care to admit.
I’ve been traveling pretty much monthly since I was a teenager, and (aside from my first couple of trips) I have never brought more than a carryon and a purse — no matter how long I’m traveling for. It took me a while to learn how to pack efficiently — especially when I need to transition from a fancy dinner to cocktail party, to the beach.
See, like most women I know who like to travel, I prefer to do so in style, but let’s be real—not even one pair of Manolos goes famously with every outfit. Flats however, are much more versatile – and comfortable! And while having style dictates that you can’t wear the same outfit all day every day, slight variations are perfectly acceptable.
With so many airline-imposed limitations on luggage these days, long gone are the days of checking five bags without paying handsomely. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather forgo a kidney than wait at baggage claim. Not to mention that $60 baggage fee I saved will buy me a few glasses of champagne when I arrive. While they blame inflated gas prices, I’m convinced the airlines are simply tangled in some conspiracy against fashionable travelers.
So how do you beat the system? Fortunately, I’ve learned a few tricks that can help you pack way more in less space no matter where you’re going. I’ve broken them down by my top tips, and then by destination:
My Top Packing Hacks
- Use packing bags. Get some clear vacuum-sealed packing bag (use the pump, a vacuum, or roll them to get the air out) or travel packing bags (if you’re not worried about fitting more in your suitcase). Fill each with a different type of clothing: dresses, tops, leggings, sweaters, etc. Clear bags are the best since you can see what’s in them. Then use a label-maker to label them (“shirts”, “skirts”, etc.). This way, instead of rooting around in your suitcase for a cardigan, you’ll know exactly where to look. It’s also nice to be able to put these in drawers because when it’s time to leave, you just need to place them back in your suitcase. It also keeps any bedbugs or moths from getting into your clothing and coming home with you.
- Roll your clothing tightly. When filling your packing bags, roll the clothing. It’s easier to see what you have when your clothing is rolled (if you pack everything flat, you can only see the items on the top and bottom of each stack). Rolling your clothing also magically prevents them from getting wrinkles. Plus, rolled clothing uses less space and somehow magically allows you to fit a lot more stuff. Just trust me on this one.
- Separate your shoes. If you can bear it, try to only bring one or two pairs of flats. Choose colors that go with all your outfits. If it’s winter, wear your boots and pack your flats. If you absolutely must bring heels, they should always stay at the very bottom of your bag, or in a separate bag altogether. If you place boots or heels on their sides lengthwise at the very bottom of the bag, you’re less likely to soil your clothes – particularly if you use travel shoe bags to keep items isolated. Once your shoes are in their rightful place, you can move on to the secondary essentials. These include smaller items such as socks and undergarments, which can be shoved into your shoes.
- Pick a color scheme ahead of time. Pick a couple of colors and one metal & jewelry tone, and try to coordinate everything based on that. This way, all your tops will go with all your bottoms, and you can mix and match. It also helps limit the number of shoes, bags, scarves, and jewelry you’ll need. I usually pick either navy/white/gold, or black/gray/silver and pack only clothing in those colors.
- Make a travel essentials pouch. Have a second set of multi-tasking makeup essentials ready to go. That way you save time and never need to worry about whether you forgot your eyelash curler. I love using my tinted SPF lip balm as a cream blush, and instead of my regular powder eyebrow filler, I got a small eyebrow pencil for travel. I keep them all in this small, soft-sided cosmetics pouch that’s just for travel. A soft bag will give you more flexibility to lay items flatter than you could if they were in a harder-shelled toiletry bag. Store it in your suitcase in between trips. If you’re bringing anything that could leak, put them inside zip-lock bags to prevent leaks and keep your liquids handy if the TSA asks for them. Pack your liquids at the top of your bag in case you’re asked to remove them during an airport security check.
- Don’t bring expensive stuff. Leave your precious jewels and Chanel bags at home and bring costume jewelry and an inexpensive (but chic, of course) shoulder bag when traveling. It’s too easy to lose things on the road (not to mention the TSA’s sticky fingers) and it’s not worth the worry.
- Bring an extra, compact and reusable bag just in case. Nobody wants to get stuck last minute without enough room to bring all their newfound goodies home. A bag like this takes up no space and can come in very handy.
- Plan your en route outfit wisely. What you wear on the plane can lighten your luggage and heighten your style. No matter where you’re headed, make sure to wear your jacket on the plane, rather than packing it. And leggings are ideal, but never wear yoga pants – instead put on a pair of pants you’ll actually wear when you get to your destination.
Perfect for travel:
Whether you’re headed to a Caribbean resort or a wild Bali escape, it’s easy to fall into a fashion slump while lounging in the hot sun. The key to staying stylish is to pack glam Coolibar SPF-protection pieces that will transition from sand to sangrias. And make sure to pack a dress that you can throw on over your bathing suit during the day, then pair with a fab necklace and cute flats for dinner.
Hiking up to Machu Picchu or discovering the ancient ruins of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat? There’s no reason why you can’t do any exotic trip while still looking Instagram-worthy! If you’re heading outdoors for an exotic holiday, I suggest bringing pieces that layer well. A cardigan, light coat, and scarf are not only functional, they also allow you to look pretty great in a selfie!
Walking on the cobblestoned streets of your favorite European capital or shopping on 5th Avenue, your city excursion of choice requires a selection of high-fashion pieces. Look up the trends in the city you’re planning to visit so you’ll be as stylish as the locals. Depending on where you’re headed you may want to pack a special outfit that only ‘vacation you’ would wear. When I’m in Paris, I wear hats. Barcelona? I wear bright colors. NYC? Black, black and more black. Pack your basics that mix and match well, but also throw in a fantastic outfit for a special night out.
For a quick bed-and-breakfast trip close to home, you need the essentials plus a little something extra; all of which can fit into one luxury weekender. If you’re just getting away for the weekend you’ll want to pack light. Lay out your three favorite tops and a pair of pants that goes with all of them (or skirt). Now add a few accessories and voilà – you are done!
What are your packing tips? Tell us below!