Travel like a pro: Packing tips for your next vacation

packing tips

Packing tips aren’t just for those of you who are venturing out for the first time. Ask any traveler – from absolute road warriors to those boarding their first flight – and you’ll find one commonality: Packing for vacations can be a nightmare.

First, there’s the baggage fees. Then, luggage dimensions. Oh wait – don’t forget weight restrictions. Add to that the security checkpoints and the ease of use that may or may not come with your luggage. You’ve got a potential disaster royale on your hands.

Eliminate the hassle and alleviate your worries by trying some of our packing tips on your next outing. Who knows – you might end up enjoying the planning/packing process!


Check your luggage before you check your luggage. Long before you get to the airport, you’ll need to know your airline’s policies. Familiarize yourself with acceptable bag dimensions, weight restrictions, cost for checking luggage, and restricted items. Oftentimes it’s cheaper to check luggage in advance online, rather than at the counter day-of. The best resource for airline specific policies is typically the airline’s website. You can also check with the TSA on federal guidelines.

Make a packing list.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but being organized is key. Making a list helps you to weed out unnecessary items, remember important items, and avoid the last minute grab-and-pack dash.

packing tips

Avoid extra weight with your next luggage upgrade. When the time comes to send your current suitcase to the eternal baggage claim belt in the sky, pause for a moment. Think about why you loved/hated that bag. Then, shop for a suitcase with features similar to those you liked. Also, be on the looking for suitcases, carry on bags, backpacks, etc that are durable but lightweight. Nothing’s worse than going over the baggage weight limit (and paying the fee!) than knowing that extra two pounds that put you over the top came from your bulky bag.


Clothes, obviously. But not every article of clothing that you own. Before you get anywhere near your suitcase or carry-on, lay out what you think you might want to pack. Decide what is actually essential. Then, put ⅓ to ½ of the rest away! Trust us – you don’t need ten pairs of shoes, five pairs of shorts, three pairs of jeans, six dresses, and ten tops for an eight day trip (your back and pocketbook will thank you for the lighter load).

Shoes that will actually be useful. Be considerate with your footwear. Even shoes you normally think are comfortable (but you don’t actually wear every day) can cause pinching and blisters if you’re suddenly marching around in them for 14 hours per day. Instead, pack one “nice” pair of shoes, one “comfortable” pair (sandals, if you please), and one “utilitarian” pair (tennis shoes, Chucks, Toms, etc).

packing tips

Bring a scarf (not too bulky, though). A scarf can be used in tons of different situations – from covering a seat you’d rather not sit on, to covering your head/neck/face, warming you up from a slight chill, being an accent to your outfit, or balling up into a pillow. Bonus: Many scarves can double as sarongs (cover-ups) and even towels – the lightweight variety will dry quickly, even at a humid beach!

packing tips

Fewer pieces of clothing for more outfits. Rather than bringing numerous completely different outfits, pack articles of clothing that can be mixed and matched, switched up, and re-used. Neutral colored (black, white, navy, khaki, no patterns) tops and bottoms can be matched in a variety of ways. To spice up your look, add a pop of color and design with jewelry (or the handy-dandy scarf you packed earlier). Bonus: If you have “convertible” clothes (pants that zip off at the bottom to become shorts, for example), you’re already ahead of the game!


Instead of folding, ROLL! No matter the size of your bag (suitcase, carry-on, backpack, and beyond), rolling your clothes will leave you with more space and fewer wrinkles. Not sure how to roll your clothes? Check out this sweet tutorial. (Note: While rolling will save space and help with wrinkles, you may have things you don’t want to roll – like a blazer or collared shirt. In that case, bundle packing may be just the trick you need.)

packing tips

[bctt tweet=”Instead of folding, ROLL! Rolling your clothes gives you more space & fewer wrinkles. ” username=”DiscoverCorps”]

Save space with Space Bags. These bags are popular amongst many travelers, and it could save you some much needed real estate in your bags. Just remember: You’ll need a vacuum to suck the air out of the bags. Also, you’ll have to ‘redo’ the bags every time you break the seal.


Fly through security, securely. In addition to familiarizing yourself with airline baggage policies, it’s super helpful to be aware of TSA regulations as well. You’ve probably heard of the 3-1-1 rule for liquids in carry-ons (3.4 ounces or less than container, placed in 1 quart-sized clear plastic zip top bag,1 bag per passenger). But, do you know which items (beyond the obvious) are considered liquids or gels? Peanut butter is one! 

Bring the essentials, but don’t pack them. Valuables and essentials shouldn’t be placed in checked bags (unfortunately, bags sometimes disappear). Anything you may need urgently, stow in your carry-on or personal item. Things like ID, passports, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and important medications should stay with you.

packing tips

Plastic bags aren’t just for security measures. Don’t leave home without a few extra plastic baggies! Tossing a few bags of different sizes in your luggage can come in handy all over the place – from bringing food out and about with you during the day (we won’t tell anyone if you swiped it from the breakfast bar), to protecting valuables from moisture and separating dirty clothes from clean ones. Bonus: For trinkets and souvenirs (picking up shells at the beach with your kids, perhaps), baggies will help you to keep things organized. If you’ve left extra space in your luggage, you’ll have the perfect spot for vacation purchases to make it home!

Bring a universal adapter for power! Depending on where you’re going, you’ll want to consider bringing a universal adapter. They’re small enough to toss in your bag, and may save you some stress when you’re out of the country. This is especially handy in airports!

packing tips
Photo: Lazada


Packing tips for kids: The desire to pack tons of toys and entertainment is strong, especially for lengthy trips. Do bring your smart device and a small bag of favorite toys. How many? Just enough to entertain while you’re going from point A to point B. Once you’re at your destination, your kids will be entertained by the trip itself!

Consider your pets if they’re tagging along! No need to bring every of Fido’s luxuries from home… But, do bring a pillow and/or blanket that your pup might love. The familiar scent will be comforting.

packing tips


What are your favorite must-share packing tips? Share them in the comments below!

packing tips

One response to “Travel like a pro: Packing tips for your next vacation

  1. Absolute favorite travel items!
    I am a ” travel warrior”, and don’t ever check a bag. I can get up to 3 weeks of stuff in a 50 liter backpack ( fits as a carry on), or for shorter trips, my eagle creek backpack/ duffel ( fits under the seat).
    1) Instead of a scarf, consider a light weight, acrylic poncho, sold all over in Ecuador, 14-$20. This can be dressed up or down, adds just the right amount of warmth, and makes a nice face and head barrier if you are trying to sleep or get a bit of extra privacy on the plane.
    2) walking sandals that don’t look as if you’re running the Eco challenge. keen Rose sandals in all black. They cover my toes nicely, have great support and grip ( after all, they are designed to be like trail shoes), and can be worn with light weight black socks without looking too dorkey. I have walked up to ten miles in them.
    3) any icebreaker merino wool garment! I go for a tank, a gray button down sweater, and a s/s tee, along with another base layer. Pair these with jeans, ( worn on the plane), or nice quick dry hiking pants ( kuhl or acrteryx), or an icebreaker villa skirt, and you’re good to go.
    4) wool socks- these don’t need to be heavy, but they can be worn more than once, and are easy to hand wash and dry, just like the icebreaker items.
    5) ex officio give and go underwear. The best, period. Wear one, and take one or two more pair only. Hand wash and they dry in a flash.

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