Traveling is awesome. You get to see new places, eat new foods, and have experiences that you will never forget. But preparing for a trip, especially packing your bags, is no fun at all. You have to figure out how you are going to utilize every little nook and cranny in your suitcase so you can bring everything you need. With airlines cutting baggage allowances more and more these days, anyone on a budget needs to figure out crafty ways to make the most of their tiny carry-on bags! While this might feel like an impossible task, there are easy and inexpensive ways to pack better.
These hacks use packing methods, household items, and strategic item choice to help make packing for vacation way easier. You will be able to pack more stuff in each bag than you ever imagined! Not having to leave anything behind when you are traveling is a great feeling. Whether you are packing a tiny backpack or a giant rolling suitcase, the tips below ensure you will use every square inch of your bag to its full advantage. Keep reading for 22 Pinterest-worthy packing hacks that will make your next trip a breeze!
22 Store Cotton Swabs In Pill Bottles
Trying to keep track of small items when traveling is one of the biggest chores. Cotton swabs tend to hide in the corners of bags if you don't corral them. To keep your collection of cotton swabs easily accessible for your makeup mishaps, store them in an empty pill bottle. The cap should stay on tight so they don't escape all over your luggage. Plus stashing them in a container keeps them sanitary. Nobody wants to use a cotton swab with hair, lint, or other gunk stuck to it! The best part about this hack is that it's eco-friendly, too.
21 Tuck Small Items Into Shoes
As I mentioned above, the smartest packers know how to utilize their bag's space fully. The more you can fit into each bag, the less luggage you will have to carry! That means fewer baggage check fees and less to lug around when you reach your destination. If you are packing extra pairs of shoes, use them as extra storage cubbies. Tuck socks, makeup, chargers, and other small items in there to keep them safe and make sure you're using every square inch of space in your bag. Just don't put anything important in there if your shoes are smelly!
20 Pack Outfits Individually
Keeping track of what clothes went where is one of the hardest parts of packing. When you get to your destination you just want to relax, but instead you are digging through your whole bag trying to find that outfit you wanted to wear to dinner. To keep things tidy and organized, try packing outfits individually in labelled plastic zipper bags. This way, you just have to grab a bag and get dressed, giving you more time to sleep in or adventure on your trip! This hack is great for kids, especially if they are traveling alone to camp or Grandma's house.
19 Hide Money In Lip Balm Containers
Many travelers worry about crime when they visit a new place. While most destinations are safe, it is still best to take precautions, especially when it comes to protecting your money and valuables. One sneaky way to hide a few bills of money is to roll it up and slip it into an empty lip balm container. Keep it in your pocket so you still have some cash if your bag or wallet is stolen. This is also a smart way to hide your money in plain sight while you are at the pool or beach, where you can't keep cash on your person.
18 Use Clothespins As Toothbrush Holders
Am I the only one who hates putting their toothbrush down on hotel sinks? I want to trust that the surface was cleaned well, but you never know, especially at more "budget" places. To keep your toothbrush up and away from germs, try this fun hack using clothespins. Grab a clothespin with a wide base for each person in your travel group. Then, when you get to your hotel, clip them onto the toothbrushes and use them to prop the brushes up, as pictured above. No more worrying about sketchy gunk from the last person hopping onto your toothbrush!
17 Put Plastic Wrap Under Toiletry Caps
There is no worse feeling than arriving at your destination after a long day of travel only to see your lotion has exploded all over your bag. Your clothes are ruined, your bag smells like a perfume factory, and you are out of lotion! You can always tuck toiletries into plastic bags for travel, but this hack makes less waste and ensures you'll have zero spillage. Tear off tiny pieces of plastic wrap (like the kind you put over leftovers) and place them on top of each bottle's end. Then screw the cap back on and voila! Spill-proof toiletries.
16 Store Jewelry In A Craft Case
If you're a jewelry-loving lady, you can't simply travel without your accessories. They make the outfits after all! But having to pack them for travel can seem like a no-win situation. Your jewelry ends up lost, broken, tangled, dirty, or any combination of those. To keep your jewels looking their best when you jet set, head to the craft store. Divided plastic cases, usually used to organize beads and other craft supplies, keep your accessories separated and in their proper places. No more lost earrings or tangled necklaces here! You may find yourself using this organization method at home, too.
15 Protect Makeup With Cotton Pads
Every girl knows the peril of traveling with makeup. You slip your favorite blush or eye shadow into your bag and when you get there, boom!, it's broken into a million little pieces. When you spend so much money on your makeup products, it hurts to see them shattered in transit. But what if I told you there's a way to avoid that heartache? Simply tuck a cotton pad or ball into your cosmetics containers and close the lid before packing them for a trip. The cotton makes a protective barrier that will keep the makeup from breaking en route!
14 Use Straws To Keep Necklaces Untangled
Packing chunky jewelry is hard enough, but traveling with dainty chain necklaces is an actual nightmare. You are almost better off wearing all the necklaces you intend to pack to avoid those annoying little knots when you reach your destination. If you don’t want to look like a crazy jewelry hoarder at the airport, though, try this genius little hack. Simply take a plastic straw and thread the necklace through it, clasping it to keep it secure. This keeps the chain from tangling and makes the necklace easy to find, too. You can even do this hack for free using a straw from a fast food restaurant!
13 Wrap Shower Caps Around Shoes
Chances are if you are going on a longer trip or traveling for business, you will need to pack some extra shoes. But the idea of those dirty soles that walked all over the ground touching your clean clothes is a nightmare! To keep your bag contents clean, all you need is a cheap shower cap. Tuck each pair of shoes into its own shower cap to keep it together and protect clothing. This hack can even be totally free! Just grab the free shower cap from your hotel for a budget-friendly way to catch shoe gunk.
12 Make Mini Makeup With Contact Cases
Ladies know that packing makeup is one of the biggest pains when it comes to packing. You worry about the containers or makeup breaking, bottles are too big for your carry-on bag, and it just plain takes up too much room. However, this genius hack lets you downsize your liquid and cream makeup products for easier transport. First, grab a contact lens case or two. You will need one "eye" for each product you want to make mini. Then squirt out some product into the lens holding area and secure the lids. This is perfect for short trips where you only need a few days' worth of product.
11 Use Packing Cubes
If you have never heard of packing cubes, I am about to change your life. These little bags come in different sizes of squares and rectangles and make packing insanely easy. They keep clothes more compressed, making more room in your bag and reducing wrinkles. By putting clothing of the same type all together in one cube, they also make it easier to find what you need when you get to your destination. You can find them almost anywhere at a variety of price points, so they are a smart choice for everybody. Invest in a set of packing cubes and packing will no longer be a chore!
10 Bring A Big Scarf
One way to make the most of the space in your bag is to pack things with multiple uses. Talk to any traveler and they will tell you that a large blanket scarf is the perfect example of this type of item. It can be used to keep warm on the plane, as a cover-up for the beach or religious sites, bundled up as a pillow, hung as a privacy curtain, laid out as a beach blanket, and much more. If you wear the scarf to the airport, it takes up zero room in your bag but has tons of uses for your trip!
9 Pack Heavy Items Near Suitcase Wheels
When you are packing a rolling suitcase, you might think you can just put anything anywhere in the bag. Wrong! Strategic packing is key to a tidy suitcase. To keep your items in their proper places, use this hack. Pack heavier items like shoes, coats, and toiletry bags near the wheels of your suitcase. If you place them at the top or middle, they may shift towards the bottom when you set your suitcase upright, making a mess of your entire bag. This hack also makes your bag easier to roll because you are pulling on the lightest part of it.
8 Protect Razors With Binder Clips
When packing a razor for travel, you have a few choices. Pack one and risk cutting your hand when you reach into your bag or leave it at home and hope you don't have to drop a small fortune on it at your destination. But what if I told you there is a third, much better option? All it takes is a trip to the office supply store. Grab a few large binder clips, the kind that you use to hold large stacks of papers together. Clip one or two (depending on the width of your razor) over the blades and you have an instant travel razor!
7 Bring Versatile Clothing
As I mentioned above in the scarf hack, packing items with multiple uses for your travels is the best way to utilize space. When choosing what clothing to pack, consider putting together a capsule wardrobe of versatile pieces. This consists of a few weather-appropriate tops and a few bottoms that can be mixed and matched to create numerous outfits. Neutral colors and simple prints work best. Don’t forget the accessories and shoes that go with all the outfits, too. You can still wear a different look every day of your trip but save tons of room in your suitcase!
6 Stash Chargers In A Glasses Case
I don't know about you, but keeping my headphones and chargers untangled when I travel is a major chore. I actually broke a pair of earbuds once because it was tangled around other stuff in my bag! To keep cords and wires tidy, consider this easy packing hack. Grab a hard-sided glasses case and use it to corral chargers in your carry-on bag. Simply wind cables and wires up in a clean loop and slip them into the case. The shape and size of the glasses case ensure there's no shifting. No more knots, stripped wires, or lost headphones for you!
5 Wear Heavy Items To Travel
Traveling in winter or to a cold climate means packing bulky items. You need heavy sweaters, a warm coat, and cozy outerwear accessories. The problem is that baggage allowances don't increase when the weather grows cool. You have to deal with the same tiny bags for all that extra stuff! To make the most of your space, wear your heaviest, thickest clothing items to the airport. You can even layer clothing if you really need the space. It might be annoying to have to take off all your outerwear to go through security, but it will save you tons of room in your suitcase.
4 Put Bobby Pins In A Mint Container
I swear that every single time I go on a trip, I end up losing a handful of bobby pins. They are so tiny and light, they seem to disappear into thin air! Even if you put your hairpins into your cosmetics bag, you have to dump the whole thing out in order to find them. To keep your bobby pins right where you can find them, try this hack. Grab an empty mint container with a flip lid (Tic Tacs or Icebreakers work well). Then slip your pins inside to keep them corralled and easy to access.
3 Store Hot Hair Tools In Pot Holders
Are you one of those people who saves getting ready to the very last minute? Then this packing hack is for you. You know those mornings when the hotel's check-out time is drawing near but you are still doing your hair? You have to make a choice between packing a hot hair tool in your luggage or getting charged for an extra night. It's a no-win situation! But if you bring a hot pad with a sleeve or an oven mitt, your problems are over. Even if your curling iron is still warm, just tuck it in there and it won't burn your clothes.
2 Deodorize With Dryer Sheets
Even if you're the cleanest person ever, chances are that your luggage will get a little funky by the end of the trip. You have dirty clothes and stinky shoes all holed up together in a small space. It probably doesn't smell so fresh! This can be a real problem if you have both dirty and clean clothes in the same bag. To help combat the funk, toss a few dryer sheets into your luggage to freshen it up. They are inexpensive and easy to pack and will make a huge impact on the freshness of your bag!
1 Roll Your Clothes
Anyone who has ever packed a bag knows that how you fold your clothes determines how much you can fit in there. With baggage allowances getting smaller and smaller, we need to conserve space wherever possible! To utilize your bag better, try rolling your clothes instead of folding them. It sounds counterintuitive but it really works! This ensures that there aren't any little nooks and crannies left empty, which is what often happens when you fold clothes flat and stack them. To save even more space, lay multiple like items on top of each other (like t-shirts or underwear) and roll them together.