When it comes to travel, everyone envies that one person who manages to truly embrace the idea of packing ‘light’. The one who strolls through the airport with only an appropriately-sized carry-on bag, no matter how long the trip, and who is never going to be struggling to fit multiple suitcases into the back of a cab, or dragging them through the city to a hotel. It may seem like this is just something that some people can do, as if by some kind of travel-magic, but it’s really just about clever packing… and knowing that you probably won’t wear three different outfits a day when you spend your time at home in the same pair of jeans and three t-shirts!

If you are struggling to fit everything you need into a carry-on, despite being realistic about how much you really need, never fear. These twenty packing hacks are some of the cleverest that we could find, and will have you packing like a pro in no time. Sail through the airport with just one bag, and know that when you arrive at your destination, everything you need will be clean, organized, and ready to use… so that you can get on with the business of just enjoying your trip!

20 Roll, Don’t Fold

When it comes to fitting clothing into a smaller bag, space is everything - and tightly rolling clothes will help you to fit more into less space (not to mention helping with wrinkles). Rolling clothes, rather than folding them, also means that you can use every last corner of your carry on, rather than having emptier spots at the edges of a pile of clothes. Roll smaller items as well as larger ones, too. Roll socks and stuff them in shoes, roll underwear and stuff them in the cups of bras to help them keep their shape. Then enjoy all the extra space that rolling creates!

19 Organize Larger Jewelry With Press' N Seal

Traveling with jewelry is always an interesting challenge, as necklaces get tangled, earrings lose their partners, and bracelets end up collecting in the furthest corners of your carry-on. There are multiple hacks to deal with these issues, thankfully, starting with using Press' n Seal to organize larger bracelets, earrings and statement necklaces. Lay out the jewelry (earrings in pairs) on the bottom sheet of plastic, press the second sheet on top, and voila! You can fold the sheet into a packing cube, and pull it out at your destination, with everything still paired up and easy to find.

18 Stop Necklace Tangles With Straws

While Press' n Seal is perfect for items like hoop earrings, smaller necklaces and chains can be more easily dealt with using a simple paper straw.

Unclasp the necklace and thread one end through the straw, then clasp it back together. This will keep the chain straight and tangle-free, so that you aren’t stuck with a pile of knotted necklaces when you arrive.

Keep the necklaces together in a small bag so you don’t have to search for them, as well. Even if you just want to travel with one other necklace, this little hack will make sure that it stays knot-free.

17 Organize Earrings With A Pill Case

One final hack for packing jewelry: pack a pill organizer for the smallest items, like earrings and rings. This will keep your various smaller items together and in their pairs, and stop them from becoming lost in the bottom of your bag. This is also a great place to include a couple of extra butterfly backs for earrings, or (for those with other piercings) spare beads, so that you aren’t scrambling to save your favorite jewelry while on vacation. However, keep your actual pills in their prescription bottles, in case you are stopped at airport security and asked about medications.

16 Use A Shower Cap Around Shoes

When packing everything into a small bag, especially when you have just enough clothing to last your trip, the last thing you want is to end up with dirt from the soles of your shoes getting all over your travel outfits! Keep dirty soles away from clean clothes by putting the shoes into a shower cap.

The plastic will keep clothes clean, but take up as little space as possible. Plus, with most hotels offering complimentary shower caps, it’s a lot cheaper than buying dedicated shoe bags for your trips.

Use two shower caps for shoes like hiking boots, that may get muddy on more than just the soles.

15 Put Creams Into Contact Cases

When it comes to saving space (and weight), it’s totally unnecessary to bring entire pots and jars of lotions and creams. It’s possible to buy small reusable jars, but why waste the money if you already have a spare contact lens case lying around? Put a small amount of day and night cream into each of the compartments, and then pop the case into your toiletry bag, and you’ve saved yourself a huge amount of space - just be careful to label the case, or remember which cream went into the ‘left’ and which went into the ‘right’ lens.

14 Stop Spills With Saran Wrap

When everything you are bringing is in a single bag, having an exploding shampoo incident means having all your clothes covered… so use this little hack to prevent any spills and keep all your clothes fresh and clean. Unscrew the caps of your bottles (decant liquids into mini bottles to save space and pass liquids through security), place a small piece of saran wrap over the mouth, and then screw the lid back on. This will stop any accidental leaks - and to be extra careful, put all your liquids in a plastic bag (which will make it easier to pull out at security, as well).

13 Ask For A Perfume Sample

There’s no need to bring a full-sized bottle of perfume with you when you travel - even if most are small enough to fulfill the security requirements for liquids. Perfume bottles are often awkwardly shaped, and the glass can be surprisingly heavy (not to mention a breakage risk). Instead of bringing a full bottle, head to a cosmetic or department store and ask for a sample size of your favorite scent. These tiny bottles are much easier to travel with, and will last for several days or even a few weeks, depending on how much you like to use.

12 Keep Cords Safe In Sunglasses Cases

Even the lightest of packers will have a few cords with them for electronics - a phone charger and headphones at the very least, and possibly other charging cables for different devices. Cables (especially those for iPhones) can be surprisingly delicate, and just tossing them in a bag makes them harder to find and risks having them stretched and damaged. Instead, use a sunglasses case to keep all your cords in one place and safe from getting caught on other items in your bag. The last thing anyone wants is to have to search out new cables (or just let their electronics die) on arrival.

11 Wear Heavy Items To The Airport

It’s tempting to plan your travel outfit solely for comfort (or Instagram-worthiness), but try to include your heaviest/bulkiest items in your travel outfit, rather than your bag. Put lighter sandals in your bag and wear the chunky boots, and wear your coat or chunky knit sweater. Given that planes can often be uncomfortably cold, wearing layers is a good idea for your own comfort, but it also frees up more space in your carry-on bag for all the other things that you’ll need on your trip. Just resist the urge to wear three outfits at once - that’s taking things too far!

10 Plan And Bundle Outfits

Most people automatically pack their bags the way that they would organize clothing in a closet; with items of one type together (pants, skirts, tops, etc). However, when traveling it makes more sense to group clothing into outfits, so that you can simply pull the top outfit each day. This does mean a little more forward planning, but bundling clothing into outfits will save you a lot of time - and help you make sure that you aren’t overpacking, by seeing exactly what you need for each day of your trip (don’t forget a travel outfit for the journey home!).

9 Store Cotton Swabs In Pill Bottles

Cotton swabs are invaluable when traveling, especially when it comes to fixing makeup while on the go. However, they can also be hard to transport, as they quickly get dirty (especially if stuffed into a makeup bag), and can bend and snap if just put into a ziploc bag. Keep them in one place, safe, and clean, by using old prescription bottles. Clean out the bottle (and dry it well), and then put a handful of swabs inside - most prescription bottles are the ideal size for this (and then you also get the satisfaction of knowing you are reusing plastic, not just tossing it out).

8 Protect Fragile Items With Socks And Shoes

Ideally, you should be packing a carry-on without any fragile items - using plastic mini bottles and contact lens cases for toiletries, and getting small perfume samples instead of larger glass bottles. However, there may be times that you just can’t avoid carrying something breakable, so when that is the case,

protect the item by wrapping it in socks and wedging it into a shoe. The structure of the shoe and the sock will help cushion and protect it, and it should arrive safe and sound.

In the worst case scenario, if it does break, the broken pieces will be kept together, and not tossed throughout your bag, too.

7 Keep Your Bag Smelling Fresh

When you are at your destination, make sure that all your clothes smell fresh and clean - no matter how long of a flight they’ve spent crammed together with shoes and toiletries in a small bag! Dryer sheets are perfect for making sure that clothing continues to smell great, and don’t take up much room. Pop a couple of sheets into your bag between clothes to deodorize your bag, or make your own (instead of using pre-packaged dryer sheets). Just put a few drops of essential oils on a soft cloth and pop it in (make sure you check how the oils will react if they touch clothing first).

6 Protect Books With Rubber Bands

The best way to read on vacation and save space in your hand luggage is to use an e-reader or tablet for your books, but a lot of people still prefer the feel of a paperback in their hands (or dislike the possibility of losing battery when at a really, really good bit!). If you are packing a paper book, wrap a couple of thicker rubber bands around the cover. This will keep the cover and pages together, so that the book won’t get damaged or bent by the other items in your bag.

5 Wrap Hair Tools In Potholders

If you choose to bring hair appliances in your carry-on, be careful that you are going to have enough time to let them totally cool between using them and re-packing them. No one wants to melt their curling iron to their clothing after doing their hair on the morning of departure! Many styling tools that use heat come with silicone covers for this very situation, but if you don’t have one, use a potholder instead. Wrap it around the barrel of the styling tool and secure it with a rubber band to make sure that everything in your bag is safe from the heat.

4 Invest In Packing Cubes

If you travel a lot, you have undoubtedly heard about the magic of packing cubes already - but you might be on the fence about actually shelling out for a set. However,

these little zippered pouches are absolutely worth it when it comes to keeping your carry-on organized and wrinkle-free. Instead of digging through your bag to find something, you just have to pull out the correct cube.

Cubes can also be used to keep dirty clothing separate (fold it, to save space), to keep smaller (non-clothing) items together, and even separate two people’s items so that you aren’t both digging into the same suitcase in the mornings.

3 Have A Pre-Packed Mini Kit Ready

Especially if you travel often, it’s a smart move to create your own personal mini-product kit and keep it ready to go. This way, instead of dealing with decanting creams, shampoos, lotions and toiletries and buying new minis each time you leave, you can just grab your beauty bag and go (and know that you aren’t forgetting anything). Many beauty counters will give you samples of favorite products, or you can find mini versions at places like Sephora. Creating a mini-kit will also save you a lot of time when packing - especially handy if you have an early flight to catch and leave packing to the last minute!

2 Roll Belts Inside Collars

One of the most difficult things about packing is making sure that stiffer items keep their shape, even when trying to cram things into a very small bag. Shirt collars, in particular, can get flattened in transit - but if you are traveling with a shirt and a leather belt, you can fix that problem by simply packing them together. Create a circle with the belt and pack it inside the collar to keep it stiff - and then deal with any remaining wrinkles on the shirt by hanging it in the bathroom at your hotel and taking a long, hot shower so that the steam helps the wrinkles fall out.

1 Bypass Liquid Restrictions With Solid Shampoo

If you have a lot of lotions and potions that you use daily, it can be difficult to keep your liquids under the amount allowed through security - even after decanting them into mini bottles and buying sample-sized versions of favorite products. If you are struggling with this, consider switching some products to solid versions, like bar shampoo and soap. This frees up some space in your bag of liquids, and means you still get to bring your preferred shampoo with you. Just remember to bring a plastic or metal case, so that you don’t get bar shampoo on your clothes!