Packing Hacks in 2022 + What to pack for ANY TRIP
What to pack for ANY trip – packing hacks, best practices and must-know tips. Pack your luggage like a pro!
Learning packing hacks and packing tips is something that we have been doing already for long. We have learnt lots of tricks & hacks the hard way. Maybe that’s why we felt the need to share some of our findings, experiences and best practices.
Some of our excessive packing situations ended up like this:
– Throwing away stuff during a trip or just leaving it at the hotel (such as heavy winter jacket that we brought to a place with tropical climate. Or heavy trekking shoes that we brought to a place where we were not going to do any trekking),
– sending stuff home via post (such as bulky souvenirs, gifts or clothes that we were not using, books that we were not reading and similar).
Some of our insufficient packing situations ended up like this:
– Buying rain coat, umbrella and rain boots at excessive prices just because we failed to bring anything appropriate for the rainy days that were predictable and expected
– Getting additional clothes and toiletries because our checked in luggage got lost or delayed (not having the right items packed in our hand luggage)
– Purchasing bunch of items that we could have brought from home but didn’t think in that direction (such as electricity adapters, power banks, USB memory, memory cards…).
All those situations were frustrating as hell but made us better packers so here we are, preaching packing hacks that will make you happier and more successful as a traveler.
Here goes a true story anecdote:
During our trip to Tanzania our luggage got delayed. Long story short – our luggage missed it’s flight and reunited with us only after 3 long days.
We were 3 days in Tanzania just with our hand luggage.
And our hand luggage consisted of: a book, bag of Haribo gummies and camera gear. No extra clothes, no toiletries, not even medicines that we needed on a daily bases…nothing that could be useful in the case of loss of luggage. Well done Ana and Ignacio!
With no extra clothes and not even basic toiletries such as toothbrush, we were, obviously, forced to do some shopping on our very first day. Buying clothes in a small town in Tanzania was not an easy task.
Furthermore, when our delayed luggage finally arrived after 3 days, we realized some items were missing from it. Well, that required another shopping session.
Enough to learn a lesson? Definitely. And the lesson is:
Always bring your essentials in your hand luggage. By essentials, I mean anything that is necessary for at least first day or two of your trip. This can include:
– some clothing items (underwear and pair of socks, maybe an extra T-shirt and a jacket)
– basic toiletries (such a toothpaste and toothbrush)
– medicines (in case you have any daily therapy + also painkillers or any basic medicine you occasionally use)
– anything expensive and valuable (jewelry, camera gear or expensive gadgets)
As for our Tanzania situation, it ended not so tragic. We had our Revolut debit card that comes equipped with insurance for such cases. Therefore, a warm recommendation for Revolut.
Going back to our topic about best packing hacks, lets see what are the most efficient ways to pack and how to decide which items are necessary for any trip.
It’s not only about the space but also about knowing how to pack efficiently.
I bet we all have a little of that person inside of us, that packs that dusty clothes that haven’t been used for the last 3 years but somehow we believe that it will be a perfect match for our coming trip.
That’s a big NO! If you haven’t use it for a year, chances are you will never use it again.
So, return that awful shirt to the darkest part of your wardrobe (if you are not ready to say Goodbye forever).
If you don’t fall into that category of people who suddenly believe they will make the strangest fashion combinations on their upcoming trip, you, probably, have some similar problems anyways.
Are you that person who can’t leave behind a single tech device? Do you, just in case, like to bring all kind of devices such as a HDMI cable or SVGA converter, external hard-disk, 7 charging cables JUST IN CASE?
Well, that’s how you end up carrying around kilos of unnecessary stuff “just in case” while you are probably forgetting to bring something you really needed.
Want to break up with that ugly habit? Let’s see if you can get some useful ideas from this text.
Before you even start to do anything, get to the planning part.
- Start thinking about your day 1 on your trip and write down all the things you will need from the moment you check in to your accommodation.
A pajama, a toothbrush, a cosmetic routine you are practicing, ear plugs, sleeping pills… or whatever it is that you normally need.
- Think about your day 2, day 3 and all the days that you will spend out of your home.
- Think about the place you are about to visit and things that you plan to do.
Will you be going out to fancy dinners? Are you going for trekking? Swimming plans?
No need to bring your fancy, uncomfortable shoes if you plan spending your day sightseeing.
- Investigate weather conditions and see the forecast.
You should only bring umbrella if there is real expectation of rain.
Bringing extra jackets “just in case it gets cold” even if the forecast predicts temperatures not lover than 25 degrees for all the days of your trip, is just a nonsense.
To sum up – plan your activities in advance, check the weather forecast and plan your packing accordingly. Writing down your packing list is something that will help you stay focused.
Once you are done with your packing list, go through it once more and start to remove the items that you don’t REALLY need. There are a few of them FOR SURE!
Maybe at home you are practicing your 7-steps beauty routine that could be reduced to 2-steps routine during your trip? You want to use your time at the best possible way + you want to optimize your luggage. Skipping a face mask for few days, for example, will not do you any harm. Just an idea.
You normally iron your clothes? Could you live for few days while you are on your trip without doing it? You will be saving space in your luggage and your precious time. Give it a try. Nobody knows you in a foreign place, anyways.
This is not only a great packing hack but it will also save you time, space and money (you won’t be paying overweight luggage). Efficiency at it’s best!
Sadly, this is also something we learnt the harder way.
- If you are traveling more less frequently, get a good quality suitcase, bag or backpack – it will save your money actually.
It happened to us more than once that we needed to buy an extra bag or a suitcase during our trip because, well, low quality bags and suitcases get broken sooner than we expect.
A good quality suitcase, normally, costs quite a lot – we were thinking the same.
You can get a quite similar one (visually similar) for 20-30 euros so why buying a 200 euros one?
Well, the difference is quite big actually.
The expensive ones are, normally, more expensive with a reason. Even though the size is the same as the cheap one, a good quality suitcase is made of better quality materials, zippers will not get broken after the 1st use, and you will be able to pack more stuff than into a cheap suitcase of a same size.
Normally, a better quality suitcase will have several separated compartments and pockets inside so you will be able to distribute your stuff better instead of just pilling them up into 1 compartment.
On the other hand, cheap suitcase will not survive for a long time. We all know that luggage is not treated with delicacy when storing it into and from the planes. Cheap plastic may just crack on the way, the zippers may got broken and not to mention the wheels. There is nothing worse than broken wheels of your huge, heavy suitcase.
It happened to us more than once that our cheap suitcase survive only one trip.
On the contrary, a good quality suitcase will, most likely, serve you for years.
So, one time expensive suitcase or a new, cheap one that we last maybe few trips only?
Especially if you are traveling frequently, buying a good quality suitcase is definitely a good business.
Rolling your clothes instead of standard folding, occupy less space, is more efficient and looks more organized. This a kind of act of faith, that things that you believe or not.
Simple as that, no scientific evidence supporting this theory. Unless you compare the space that your folded clothes occupy vs. rolled clothes. There you will have your evidence.
The Marie Kondo style of rolling instead of folding your clothes became kind of cult nowadays. And we love it. We find this method especially useful when traveling.
Rolling your clothes save you some space, it is more organized and gives you better visibility on what is what. And it’s super easy to do it.
Before rejecting this idea, do a simple test yourself – try to pack the same set of clothes using both techniques (standard folding and then rolling). Make a photo and compare.
Based on your own test, decide what is more efficient way for you. I bet you will pass to the folding side.
This is an easy packing hack for girls (or anyone who wears bras).
- If you are bringing bras to your trip, pile them up one over another and fill the “holes” with some smaller clothing item (such as underwear or socks).
Saving space and preventing your bras from losing their shape.
How many shoes to bring to a trip is a question that will be answered later on in this post (hint – 2 is more than enough… mostly).
Shoes, sneakers, boots… footwear in general is what occupies most of the space in the luggage so we should definitely, try to bring only what is really necessary.
At the same time, those items are usually dirty and we are about to pack them together with clean clothes.
To keep your clothes clean from the dirtiness of the shoes – use simple plastic bags to pack your shoes inside.
If your trip will not be a long one (let’s say not longer than 3 weeks) no need to bring big shampoo bottles, 1 l of shower gel or your favorite body lotion in family size packing.
- At almost any drogerie or bigger supermarket, you can find a travel-size cosmetics products. In particularly shampoo, soap, toothpaste, make-up, deodorant…
If you prefer to bring the standard products you use (and they cannot be found in a small travel size packaging), you can also buy empty travel-size containers and fill them up with your favorite cosmetic products.
You can also search a little bit your house and maybe you even find some small plastic containers you already had (such as empty face cream container or empty bottle of some spice or kitchen item,) that you can use to fill it up with your favorite shampoo o shower gel.
Keep in mind that, in case you are storing your toiletries into your hand luggage, you can only bring small-size packed liquids (such as shampoo, face cream…) – up to 100 ml per item.
Another thing to keep in mind – most of the accommodations (hotels, Airbnb, guest houses…) provide basic toiletries (such as hand soap, shampoo, shower gel), so if you are not too picky, you can even save more space in your luggage but not bringing those basic toiletries.
If you don’t know it already, this will come-up as a fantastic packing tip.
You will get extra space and protection for fragile items.
Use your shoes to put stuff inside, from that small souvenirs made of glass or ceramic that you don’t know where else to put till perfumes, a razor machine, or few pairs of underwear or socks.
2 in one – optimizing the space in your luggage and extra protection for fragile and small objects.
Nowadays most of the airlines are becoming very restrictive in terms of luggage weight. Often you will need to pay extra if you want to have a carry-on luggage and in case of dispatching an extra suitcase the price increase even more.
Luckily there is another great packing hack that can save you a little bit more space.
- Try to wear as much clothes as possible on you
This sounds like a not very useful hack because we cannot really put too much clothes on us buuuut…we can chose wisely the clothes that we will wear during our flight.
Between several shoes you want to bring, chose the biggest, the bulkiest ones to wear on you.
Same goes for jackets for example. Let’s say you are traveling from warm to a cold destination and you need to bring that huge winter jacket that occupies half of your suitcase.
Even though it’s warm at your departing point, you can still bring your jacket with you instead of packing it into suitcase. If wearing it is not an option due to the warm temperature at the airport, you can simply bring it in your hands.
Same goes for scarfs and hats… you can simply wear those items on you or carry them in your hands.
This way you will save significant space in your suitcase and nobody can really deny you bringing your jacket and a scarf in your hands.
This packing tip is particularly useful when you are travelling with low-cost companies where each little peace of luggage costs almost more than a flight ticket itself.
More than a packing hack this is an advice of common sense.
- Never dispatch items that are valuable in one way or another. Everything that you consider that you cannot risk to lose or get stolen has to travel with you and not in dispatched luggage.
The most common things are laptops, tablets, phones, cameras, drones, etc. However you should also consider expensive jewelry, money, credit cards, keys, personal documents and similar.
We always carry the most valuable belongings in our backpacks, not even in the carry-on suitcase since there is always risk to be asked to dispatch it or leave it before entering to the plane so the staff can store it somewhere else.
This way you can be sure not to lose your most valuable items in case of lost luggage or stolen items from it.
In order to know if you should pick just a small, carry-on suitcase, a big suitcase, just a backpack or any combination of them; the first that you should know is what to pack.
- Write down your packing list and it will be easier to decide.
- Think about things that are important to you.
Do you give priority to traveling light and you are willing to leave behind everything that is non-essential?
Or you prefer bringing as much luggage as you need making sure you will have the same comfort on your trip as at home?
For short trips (up to 1 week let’s say) we generally use our carry-on suitcase and a backpack.
However, if we have a long trip ahead we will add a big suitcase to be shared between the both of us. We rarely bring 1 big suitcase each as we always chose to travel as light as possible.
We don’t like to travel with big backpacks – no matter how cool it sound – we don’t find it very practical.
Every time you need something from your backpack you need to unpack and repack over and over again. Not to mention how heavy it can be to carry it around.
We tried the backpacking experience during our almost-year-long trip to Southeast Asia and we feel it would have been much more comfortable with a small, carry on luggage with wheels.
Of course, it depends on the person but it’s important to have in mind all the aspects and pros and cons of each type of luggage.
Our favorite combo is small, carry on suitcase + small backpack and we try to travel like this whenever possible (almost always).
Not that you will save a lot of space with this hack but, if you are on the limit, everything counts.
Let’s say that you are on the check in counter and turns out your suitcase is few kilos overweight.
Of course, they will ask you to pay that overweight fee. And it’s never really a small amount.
What you can do is do a quick overview of the content of your overweight luggage and pick some heavy items that you can repack to another piece of luggage (carry on bag for example). Still got few kilos extra? Think if maybe you can put something on you.
You can always pull a heavy jacket and put it on you (or bring it in your hands).
- Think about heavy objects that you cold maybe put in your pockets. It could be:
– a power bank (that is usually somewhat heavy);
– a book or e-book (that you can put in your pocket or even bring it in your hands),
– a bag with toiletries (sum up the total weight of it and maybe it will be worth of removing that excess weight and distributing it in your pockets.
– belts (you can even put more than one of you)
– any heavy accessories (umbrella, heavy necklaces, chains, belts… you can put it all on you and make an eccentric appearance at the airport)
We use this hack quite frequently – besides of the benefit of saving you some space, it’s fun as well.
We are, clearly, advocating for traveling light whenever possible. And if not possible, we still encourage you to do it.
Benefits of traveling light are numerous and disadvantage actually only one – you won’t be as comfortable as you are at home.
Can you deal with that?
Let’s see some of the pros of traveling only with your carry on luggage (we recommend small, carry on suitcase with wheels):
– They are usually included into the ticket price so you don’t need to pay extra
– If they are not included into the ticket price, they are, certainly cheaper than paying a big suitcase
– No need to wait for your luggage upon arrival
– No risk of delayed/lost/damaged/stolen luggage
– You won’t use many things anyway. I am sure we all end up wearing couple of our favorite/most comfortable clothing items and the rest just remain untouched in the suitcase.
– You can always wash your clothes while on the trip. There is plenty of laundry service places everywhere in the world and, most likely, your accommodation will offer it as well. It will be cheaper to wash few items than to pay extra luggage. Nobody, usually, has a habit of washing clothes on their trips but, it’s not a bad habit to try out.
See? There are many benefits of traveling light and the only con would be that you won’t be that comfortable as at home. So what! Are you missing one extra t-shirt? It`s a great opportunity to do some shopping and bring home a souvenir.
Simple an efficient packing hack for something we always need on our trips and yet, it is always easily forgotten.
- Bring few extra plastic bags for your dirty clothes.
Nobody wants to mix sweaty and dirty shirts with the clean ones.
Easy solution- keep them in different compartments. It will also make your life easier because you can identify what is dirty and what is clean easier.
This packing hack is not going to save you space or money but it will save your fragile stuff.
For example, you can protect your perfume bottle by wrapping it in your sweater or a t-shirt.
We use this hack mostly on the way back home to protect fragile souvenirs.
Similar to what we do when we are packing the groceries for example, you never pack eggs first putting a watermelon and beers on top of it.
Well, when packing for a trip you should follow the same principle.
Use your clothes to protect anything that could be damaged and pack those fragile items in the upper part of your luggage (avoiding to put too much weight over).
Yes we know, travelling nowadays in covid times is pretty complex.
Each country has their own rules and restrictions. For this reason we need to get well informed before traveling. I know that this, usually, applies for the entering requirements but there are other aspects to keep in mind.
- Besides the obvious need of checking the entry requirements for a country you want to travel to (covid tests, vaccine certificate etc.) it is important to get to know the covid restrictions for a everyday life and moving around.
This can be:
– Wearing a face-mask – where and when is mandatory (in some countries wearing mask is mandatory only inside the public places; in some other countries wearing mask is only a recommendation and it’s not mandatory; in some other countries you must wear mask even when outside at the street…)
– Which face-mask should I wear – In some countries you need to wear a certain type of mask at certain places (for example only a certain, sanitarily approved face mask purchased at pharmacy can be used at the airport. This means if you appear with your favorite cotton face-mask, they won’t let you in.
– Are the bars/restaurants/discotheques open – In some countries yes, in some other no. And in some countries partially. Check the opening and closing hours and weather or not you need a vaccine certificate to enter.
– Can I enter to a bar/restaurant/discotheque if I am not vaccinated? In some countries yes, in some other no. Some countries accept only certain vaccines. Check if and what restrictions apply for any of the places you want to visit.
– Some museums or sightseeing places (or parts of it) may be closed to to Covid. Check the situation in advance for all the places you want to visit.
– Some countries still have a curfew in place. Get informed in advance to avoid surprises.
Probably one of the best packing hacks of all times. Packing cubes are an amazing invention that makes packing an easy task.
It’s discussed if you save space or not by using them. Personally, I don’t think that you save space at all considering that the volume of things is not changing but they do add extra points for efficiency.
- Using packing cubes makes your suitcase more organized.
We usually struggle finding things in our suitcase because after 1 day everything gets mixed.
In that sense, using packing cubes simplify things.
You can organize your stuff in a way that is logical to you. You can use separated cubes for toiletries, for underwear, t-shirts… That way, if you are looking for something, you know exactly in which cube it is so you don’t need to search around your luggage, moving and mixing things.
There are many different sets to buy – some of them are 2 or 3 pieces but you can find of them with 10 or more containers and they all come in different shapes and sizes.
No matter if you are travelling with a backpack, carry-on suitcase or big suitcase, packing cubes are always useful and handy.
More than a packing tip this is a survival tip.
First of all, we are not suggesting to put money in the suitcase that you are dispatching, that’s a big NO. Dispatched suitcases get lost, damaged or even stolen sometimes.
- What we are proposing is to split your cash (in case you are bringing cash) to several different spots.
You can keep some amount of money in your wallet, some other amount in a different pocket, while leaving some in a “hidden spot” in your accommodation (for example in the safe box, inside of some pocket of some clothing item in your suitcase…) one debit card inside the phone, the other one in your wallet and so on.
That way minimize your chances to lose all your money.
It happened to us to lose 3 debit cards in 24hs, luckily we were following our own advice (to have some secret stash somewhere) and we could survive enough days to sort it out.
The only flaw of stashing your money around is that you may forget all the hidden places, especially if you come up with a really good one.
**This is kind of extension of the previous packing hack. As long as is possible for you, try to always have an extra credit/debit card. Cards get stolen, broken, duplicated and even forgotten inside the ATM (yes, it also happen to us few times).
Whatever the reason is, having an extra is always good, you never know what could happen. In addition also keep your bank details handy in case you need to contact them for an emergency.
**We wrote extensively about this topic (Managing money while on a trip) on our blog post – How to manage money when traveling abroad – https://www.tangoandrakija.com/how-to-manage-money-when-traveling-abroad – Go check it out for more useful tips on money management.
No matter if you are using a backpack, a big suitcase or hand luggage bag – never stuff your luggage till the exploding point.
The reason is simple – what about souvenirs?
What we do with souvenirs if we already don’t have space before even taking the plane?
Well, that’s also something to think about in advance.
- If you know you will be buying souvenirs (and let’s not be naïve, we all end-up buying magnets at least) keep some free space in your luggage.
If you keep this in mind, you will probably save some money on paying overweight luggage when you will be heading back.
We love buying all sorts of souvenirs so, for us, this is quite a challenge.
In many occasions we leave extra empty space knowing we will be doing shopping abroad.
In some other cases, we buy much more than we expected so that becomes an issue.
What we did in few occasions was to send our souvenirs and stuff we bought through the post. Just an option to consider! However, sending by post is not always such a great idea because things can get lost. Also, the price of sending items is not always low.
Another idea when not having any space left for souvenirs is to buy them at duty-free shops at the airport. This way you won’t be limited by weight or size.
Even though this is, definitely, not our favorite way to buy souvenirs, sometimes we do it
I know we all want to look fantastic for our holiday pictures. That can be easily fixed without even being close to fantastic (apps, filters, photoshop).
We always recommend bringing only essentials to your trips and avoid bringing all the stuff you normally use at home. This applies more than anything on beauty products.
Let’s say you spend lot of time, money and effort on your skin or hair routine. You have plenty of creams and products you use daily. You like to wear a lot of makeup. That’s all great and nothing to object there.
But, would you consider giving yourself a little break for the sake of economizing your luggage space? You will also save some precious time during your trip by not spending it on your beauty routine.
What I suggest here is not forgetting about your hygiene but just reducing your beauty products to fewer ones.
– Instead of bringing 7 beauty products, for example, pick 1 or 2.
– Don’t forget to use small containers (bigger packages than 100ml is not permitted in hand luggage)
– Avoid bringing iron, hair straightener, hair drier, nail care products and similar. You can really live without those for few days ( hair drier is available at most of the hotels).
Enjoy living as a beauty nihilist for a while.
If you can’t really live without shaving, there are barber-shops EVERYWHERE! And it can even be a fun experience to visit a barber shop or hairdresser abroad
We love books and we still buy them frequently. We both prefer standard, paper ones over their electronic alternatives. However, let’s face it, we live in a digital era.
For the purpose of traveling, we recommend accepting the trend for the sake of efficiency.
- Whatever you need for your trip such as music, books, magazines, travel-guides, lists, maps, you name it; you can have it in digital form instead of paper.
Even better, all in 1 place, your phone.
We totally understand the feeling, a book is a book and nothing can replace the feel of turning pages, smell of the paper… However, we are also flexible and maybe you can be too.
Let’s say that you decided to read Anna Karenina during your holidays (great choice, why not), buuuut, that book is huge and heavy (compared to your small and already almost full suitcase).
You can use that space for many other things instead.
Take profit of your phone, tablet, e-book reader… and use it wisely to keep or your useful media available all the time.
Of course you should bring enough underwear and socks for each day of your trip. As for other clothing items such as sweaters, trousers… we should apply a more economical rule.
- For every pair of pants or trousers you should bring 2 or 3 tops (shirts, t-shirts…).
Generally pants are used more than 1 day (unless you were doing a trekking in the mud).
In a normal weather conditions we usually bring 1 pair of trousers or pants to use during 3 days.
For each pair of trousers or pants, we usually bring 2 or 3 tops (t-shirts, shirts, sweaters, hoodies…)
That means that if our trip lasts 3 days our clothing packing list will include:
– 3 pairs of underwear,
– 3 pairs of socks,
– 1 pair of pants or trousers,
– 3 t-shirts,
– 1 or 2 sweaters, hoodies or cardigans (depending on the weather),
– a jacket or warmer item if needed.
As for the footwear – we always like to have 2 pair of shoes or sneakers (one that we wear on us and 1 extra pair) + flipflops to use in the room.
It’s a kind of thumb rule, it will also depend if you plan to be on the beach chilling or doing camping in the forest. In any case the above proportion works pretty good for us in almost any situation, therefore we recommend it.
We are not obsessed with the idea of being robbed but, we think it’s a good idea to lock your suitcase.
- If you are dispatching your suitcase, make sure that you setup the combination of the lock on on it or, if it doesn’t have one, add a simple padlock by yourself.
Here comes an extra tip if you want to be extra cautions when it comes to your checked in luggage. Just before handing the suitcase in the check-in desk make a photo of the suitcase with the padlock.
If your suitcase is opened by force, and the items are missing you will have the evidence that it was properly locked. This may facilitate the insurance claim.
It may sound exaggerated but, especially if you are traveling frequently, sooner or later, you will find yourself in a similar situation.
During our trip to Tanzania, our luggage got delayed. When we received it 3 days later, the padlock was removed by force and some items were missing from the suitcase.
The insurance claim process was somehow difficult because we couldn’t prove that the items were stolen and that the suitcase was locked.
If you are traveling with a friend or partner and you are thinking to dispatch suitcases, this packing hack is for you.
This tip is useful in the case that one of the suitcases gets lost, delayed, stolen as well.
The trick is to pack the stuff of each person split in 2 suitcases. The goal of this would be that, in the scenario that one suitcase gets lost or delayed, it won’t be a total loss. Both of you will have items to survive at least the first couple of days until the situation gets resolved.
- Also, if your trip is a short one, you may want to share 1 big suitcase between 2 persons rather than bringing 2 big suitcases.
This way you can split the cost of adding a checked in suitcase instead of having to pay 2 checked it suitcases.
You probably heard at least once the expression, dress as an onion.
It’s actually a good tip to use in any situation, even the traveling one.
Instead of packing 4 big woolen sweaters for example (that will occupy a lot of space in your suitcase), you can pack 4 t-shirts and 1 big, warm, woolen cardigan or hoodie with zipper to wear over the t-shirt.
- Chose more of smaller items such as t-shirts and blouses and fewer big items such as sweaters, jackets, hoodies.
- According to some findings, you will be warmer if you wear several light items one over another than just wearing one big sweater.
This way, you are, obviously, saving some space since you are minimizing big clothing items such as oversize sweaters, cardigans, hoodies.
At the same time, bringing more t-shirts and blouses will not occupy much space since these items are smaller and can easily be rolled to fill in small spaces in your suitcase.
We cannot repeat this enough – avoid packing things “just in case”. If you don’t use it at home, you won’t use it during your holidays either.
Pack things that you use in your normal life.
The same goes for that book that you know you are not going to read – don’t bring it ”just in case you get bored on your trip”. Nobody gets bored on a trip.
Same goes for sports – there is no reason to think that you might need your running shoes if you never run at home. No matter how attractive it looks the idea of running by the beach at sunrise.
Or another very typical one – your hotel got a gym so you stuff your suitcase with sportswear and give yourself a very fake hope you are actually going to exercise.
Of course you are not going to do it.
I mean, if you normally go to gym and you exercise regularly when you are home, maybe you will exercise on your trip as well. But if you don’t do it at home, you won’t be doing it on your trip.
You get the point…Pack light and, more importantly, pack smart.
In other words, when you are thinking what to pack, the answer is what – the things you know for sure you will use.
We have already talked a lot about packing hacks for carry-on and suitcases but where do we carry things during the trip?
We will need something to carry wallet, phone, keys, water…while exploring the new city.
For that purpose we suggest to always bring a small bag, or small, light backpack. And if you like to go with minimum necessary stuff around, there are some great super small bags enough to pack your phone, passport, money and keys.
For this purpose we always suggest to chose your daily handbag smartly.
- Pick pocketers are present literally in any place of the world and they are always operating near touristic places.
- Make sure your handbag or backpack can be safely closed and not so easy to open and take stuff from there.
Unfortunately, shoes occupy a lot of space in any suitcase and is hard to find a solution for it.
Therefore, the best that you can do is to not pack many pair of shoes.
So, be smart in your selection.
If you are going to a short trip (3 days for example) and you will be doing, mostly sightseeing, make sure to wear comfortable shoes on you and that’s it. No need to bring any extra shoes.
If your trip is longer than that, then its probably a good idea to bring one more pair of shoes.
- Think about the activities you will be doing on your trip and make sure to bring only shoes you will be wearing for sure.
In case you need big, heavy boots on your trip, wear them on you and pack the smaller shoes in the suitcase.
We also always bring flip-flops to any trip. Even if it’s not summer and your destination is not a beach, flip-flops are a smart thing to bring.
You can wear them while you are in the room. Also, if you don’t trust the hygiene standards of your accommodation, you can wear your flip-flops when showering.
Besides, flip-flops are easily packed and don’t occupy a lot of space.
We are strongly against bringing any uncomfortable footwear to any trip (such high heels, platforms or anything you are not comfortable in).
The chances are you will be walking much more then you do at home, so you don’t want to suffer wearing uncomfortable shoes.
While you are packing your essential toiletries keep always in mind that hotel and any type of accomodation, generally provide some basic amenities (hand soap, shower gel, hair conditioner, body lotion, towels…).
Of course, quality and variety of amenities will be proportional to the quality of your accommodation.
In case you are staying in a cheap hostel, you may not have much more than hand soap and a towel. If you are staying in 4 o 5 star hotel, you will have all sort of toiletries that you might need.
If you are not too picky, you can save some money and space in your luggage by using your hotel amenities instead of bringing your own cosmetics.
With this easy packing tip you can save a lot of money.
This, of course, applies only to the countries/cities where tap water is drinkable.
You can investigate that on internet and, if tap water is good for drinking at your destination, you can bring your own bottle and use it instead of buying water.
You can fill your own water bottle every time its possible in order to not buy water every day.
It is great item to have at the airport, since you cannot pass the control with liquids in large packing (bigger than 100ml) you can just have the empty bottle and refill it after the control. Most of the airports nowadays have free drinkable water dispensers.
On top of it you can also be eco-friendly with this simple tip.
Buying food at the airport is not the smartest idea for many reasons.
First of all – prices. Snacks and food and drinks in general, are much more expensive at the airport than in any other place.
Besides that, the quality of food is usually not the best since most of the options are fast food and packaged, unhealthy food.
In addition to that, many airlines nowadays don’t provide free meals. And the prices of the food you can get in the airplane, are even higher than at the airport. The quality of the food you buy in the airplane, is even lower than anywhere else.
What we usually do is pack some snacks and some piece of fresh fruit. This, normally, keeps us from unecessary spending at the airport.
This particular packing tip is good when you are going to some adventure trip like hiking a mountain, camping, safari, wild beaches, adrenalin activities, sports, etc.
If that is the case we suggest you to pack the basics for a safe trip.
Include stuff that is relevant for the kind of trip – if you are going to climb a mountain you probably don’t need malaria pills, rather something for cuts in your hands or feet, something for cleaning a wounds, etc.
Pack wisely according to your needs.
For quite some time we were carrying around our travel first air kit to any trip. If you are going to an urban place doing sightseeing, there is, actually, no much need for bringing a first aid kit.
You can get basics in any pharmacy in case of the need.
But, if you are going to a remote destinations or into nature, bringing a first aid kid is the best possible idea and you should definitely do it.
You must remember this info if you are traveling with your carry-on luggage only.
In case you are not dispatching your suitcase and traveling with your carry on luggage only, remember that there are some restrictions for bringing liquids to the plane.
The limit size of the package of the liquid products is 100ml.
This info can be somehow misleading so be careful. 100 ml limit doesn’t refer to the weight of your liquids only. It refers also to a size of the packaging and its capacity.
That means that you cannot bring a 500 ml bottle with 100 ml of liquid inside. The packaging has to be small (max capacity of 100 ml).
I have seen a lot of discussions about this at the security control where some passengers would bring a big package of a body lotion or any other liquid using the argument that the package is half empty and definitely has les than 100ml.
It will not work that way.
- Make sure your liquid products are in small packaging of the maximum capacity of 100ml (if you are caring them in your hand luggage).
Body lotions, face creams and similar are considered liquids.
It’s also important to know that this rule (100 ml max liquids) doesn’t apply to anything that you just bought in the Duty-Free shop. That stuff is extent of this rule as they come in sealed bags.
We forgot to follow this rule so many times.
That ended up having to empty our hand luggage at the security check in, In that search, one hand cream that was somewhere inside of the backpack but outside of the Ziploc bag.
- All the liquids that you are caring in your hand luggage must be stored inside of a Ziploc bag.
Waiting in the queue to pass the security check at the airport is one of the most annoying things. I am sure you dislike it as much as we do. Best way to pass it as fast as possible is to be prepared.
In order to have a smooth security check, remember this easy packing tip – put all your liquids in one (or more if needed) transparent, Ziploc bag.
At many airports they will require you to take out your bag with the liquids from your hand luggage when passing the scanner check. For that, make sure you pack it on the top so you can take it out and put it back quickly.
If your liquids are spread around your hand luggage bag or suitcase, and if they are not stored into a plastic Ziploc bag, most likely you will be asked to open your luggage and take out each peace of liquid products.
- Probably you won’t find jewelry in any list of recommended packing items for any trip.
- So the best advice is – just don’t bring it, especially in the case of expensive jewelry.
You will be out of your home, it can happen that you forget it at the bathroom of your hotel or you can get robbed.
That’s an unnecessary risk.
If, however, you want to bring valuable jewelry to your trip, don’t put it in the suitcase you will dispatch.
You should rather pack it into your carry on luggage or your personal bag that will go together with you to the airplane. Even safer option is to put it on you if possible.
I hate when all the cables get tangled inside of my backpack. I dream with a totally cordless, wireless world, but, till that happens we just need to bring cables with us wherever we go.
In order to keep all your cables in one place you can use an empty sunglasses case or any similar box or small bag.
That way everything will remain in one place and easily accessible.
We have another packing tip that is related to the items that you should bring for your flight, especially if it is a long one.
Many times we are only focused to what to pack for the trip itself and we don’t think about the flight and the things we may need on the way.
Especially if the flight is long or overnight one, you may want to think what can you bring to make it more enjoyable.
Some of the items we always bring if the flight is longer than few hours:
– headsets + download your favorite music, serial, films to your phone or pc
– usb charger for your phone or power bank
– reading material (a book, e-book, magazine…)
– ear plugs. Don’t underestimate the power of a screaming baby or a drunk passenger to ruin your sleep
– neck pillow. It will make your long flights much more comfortable. If you are worried about space, you can always get an inflatable one.
– some warmer jacket or a sweater. It can get really chilly at the airplanes especially at night.
– Wear comfortable clothes and avoid short pants, skirt, dresses and similar. It can get cold and they don’t always offer a blanket.
– Some snacks, water or juice and piece of fruit. If you don’t want to spend lot of money buying tiny package of tasteless food for the price of a meal in a restaurant, bring your own snacks.
Prepare some healthy fruit snack to keep you hydrated and vitaminized during an exhausting trip.
We spent a lot of time in a total ignorance and unaware of the existence of this fantastic product.
Money belt is a great way to carry around your cash, your cards, even your passport.
Basically it’s a belt with a small pocket (in which you can put your valuables) that goes around your waist under your clothes.
It’s a great way to keep your most valuable things without worrying. You can simply put your belt and relax.
No risk of dropping your wallet somewhere, forgetting somewhere your hand bag with your money inside, being robbed (unless the robbers know about the money belt).
We cannot stress enough how useful this is, particularly if you are carrying a significant amount of cash.
We love this gadget as it is super easy to bring, almost not ocupying any space and is cheap to buy one!
Read carefully all the airline rules about the items that you can carry with you to the airplane and the items that are forbidden.
We can mention the obvious ones like don’t bring guns, knives or bombs into a plane, but I guess you were already aware of this.
But, you should keep in mind some other, maybe less obvious rules such as:
– some airlines restrict bringing certain types of power banks to the plane. You should check if the airline you are traveling with apply any such rule
– some airlines restrict bringing certain foods to the plane (durian fruit, fish, meat without declaration…). In case of doubts better check in advance
– some airlines prohibit bringing into the plane some of the cosmetic items such as scissors, razors, tweezers, nail clippers and similar.
Remember to check in advance if all you want to bring inside of your hand luggage is alowed on the plane.
In case it is not you can pack it to your dispatched luggage in case you are dispatching one. Otherwise, you might have to leave it behind on the security control.
This one is a really useful hack for any trip that involves water.
- If you are going near the water (beach, boat cruise, river rafting…) and you want to protect your electronic devices, money, cards, paper documents… don’t forget to pack some Ziploc bags.
They can literally save your life.
Let’s say you are going on a whale watching tour… the sea is wavy and the day is windy and you get some splashes here and there. You can protect your valuables by simply putting them in a simple, kitchen Ziploc bag.
Of course there are more expensive options of waterproof bags designed specifically for these occasions but if you want a simple and cheap alternative, Ziploc bag will work just fine.
More than a packing tip this one is a survival hack that can save you in case of an unpleasant situation of loosing your document on a trip.
It is not very likely but it can happen that you lose your documents or they got stolen.
If you are out of your country and without documents, that can be quite a problem. After reaching the police station or the embassy, you will probably be asked to provide some sort of prove that you are who you are saying and that what happened is true.
Showing a photo or scan of your documents would definitely facilitate the bureaucracy process and make your life easier in that difficult situation.
For the potential situation of loss of your personal documents, we recommend storing a photo of your passport, ID, return ticket … in cloud, google drive, sending it to your email or Facebook message for example.
All those can be accessed from any phone or pc in case your phone or pc are also lost or stolen together with your documents.
We also think it’s a good idea to investigate in advance if your country has an embassy at your travel destination and note down the phone number and the address.
Nowadays, many airlines are changing their luggage policies being each time more and more strict.
And the fun part (not fun at all) is that there is no an universal rule. Each airline has it own and we must follow it.
Some airlines permit bringing a small suitcase as your carry-on luggage. Some other will let you bring only a small (of a certain size and weight) backpack or hand bag.
In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, check the luggage policy of the specific airline you are traveling with in advance.
- When speaking about luggage policies, it is important to pay attention to the size of permitted luggage. Also consider the weight that the airline permits.
Another smart way to avoid unexpected payments for exceeding the weigh allowance for your luggage is to simply weight your luggage at home.
You probably have a scale at home, so once you finish packing, check the weight of your suitcase.
Compare it to the airline’s policy rules and you are all set for a smooth check in.
This is a great lead at the time of deciding what to pack.
Of course you know what to pack depending if you are going to the beach, to the mountain, or trekking. Maybe just a city visit
However, it’s always a good practice to check the weather forecast. Inform yourself and see the specific weather predictions for the days of your trip.
That way you will pack smarter depending on the weather conditions.
Don’t make a mistake of bringing stuff ”just in case”. If there is no rain predicted for the days of your trip avoid it. It most likely, won’t rain so no need to bring umbrella just in case.
The same goes for the famous ”just in case it gets cold”. If you are going to a warm place and the forecast doesn’t show any change for the days of your trip, avoid it. It just won’t suddenly get cold.
Don’t bring unnecessary stuff!
This product is one of the most useful gadgets we ever purchased.
- Weather you are traveling around Europe, Asia, Africa… or anywhere else in the world, you can use it. An universal electric plug adapter is a great choice.
No need to buy a different one depending on the type that certain country uses. With this simple and economic gadget you are covered wherever you go.
Just have one of them with you and you will be sure that you will get electricity anywhere.
- It’s always a good idea to tag your suitcase in some way so it won’t get mixed up. Particularly with some other similar ones.
You can use some fancy ribbon, write something on it, put a sticker. Whatever you can think about that will make your suitcase standout from other similar suitcases.
The important thing is that your suitcase looks unique for easy identification.
Of course, not all the trips are the same. Our packing list will depend on so many factors such as:
– location (is it urban, rural, mountain, beach…)
– weather (is it hot or cold, is it windy, raining, snowing)
– activities we will be doing (sightseeing, trekking, sea-sports, boat cruise, camping, food tours..)
– duration of the trip
– type of accommodation we are staying in (is it a 5-stars hotel, home-stay, hostel, camping site…)
All of those things will determine the items we will need to pack. However, there are some items we almost always bring with us, no matter what kind of trip it is.
Those must-have items help us to be better organized, more comfortable and better prepared for any unexpected need or situation.
Don’t take it as an ultimate or the most genius packing list (it won’t bring you any miracle solution). Take it as a brainstorming list of most useful items to bring to your trips.
So, here it goes, our must-have packing list of items to bring to any trip:
What is the most efficient way to pack a bag?
Check the weather forecast and and think about activities you will be doing your trips. Make a packing list with things you will need starting from day 1 of your trip until the last day.
Review your list one more time and try to eliminate the items that are not necessary.
Think about your daily outfits and write down your dressing combination for each day.
Think about comfortable clothes and shoes and don`t pack things you are not sure you will be using. Avoid bringing things “just in case”. Minimize the toiletries and beauty products.
What to pack and what not to pack?
Think about the things you cannot live without and the things it may be difficult to buy at your destination. Things such as medication, birth control pills, tampons of a certain brand that may not be available to buy anywhere. Consider this kind of situations.
No need to pack things you are not sure you will be using. For instance, don’t bring umbrella if the forecast is not predicting rain. Don’t bring clothes that is sitting in your wardrobe without using it for years. Don’t bring uncomfortable shoes no matter how pretty they are.
How to pack light if I need many things?
Even if you are picky and need lot of things, there are ways to make it light.
Don’t want to wear the same pants, sweater, shirt more than 1 day? Use a washing service at your accommodation to wash, dry and iron your clothes.
Need many hair or skin products to maintain your beauty routine? Store all your cosmetic products in small containers. Or visit a cosmetic salon/hairdresser at your destination.
Need to bring a book or two?. Your favorite magazine(s)?. A notebook with your notes, city map and a city guide? Bring it all in digital form.
Interested in more travel content?
Check out our text -> How to manage money when traveling abroad (+ tips to save money)
Not sure where to book your flights? -> Learn more about the 6 Best Flight Booking Platforms
Not sure where and how to book your accommodation? -> Check out our text about Best Hotel Booking Sites in 2022
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