packing hacks to travel lightly

8 Packing Hacks to Help Save Time And Money

I’m notorious for my travel packing hacks that allow me to pack lightly and take only one carry-on bag and a backpack on my trips. I rarely (if ever) checking anything in.

I prefer it this way for several reasons.

  • It’s the convenience of not spending as much time at the airport waiting to check-in or pick up your bags at the baggage claim. In addition, you eliminate the chances of your luggage getting lost.
  • It forces you to be a minimalist, responsible traveler. By incorporating packing hacks and taking only what you really need, you eliminate a lot of weight and waste.
  • It can lead to cost savings as some airlines will charge you for check-in, and some taxis will charge you for bigger suitcases.
  • On multi-city trips packing hacks and tricks improve the ease of travel, thus making it easier to take public transportation should you need to.
  • Many hotel rooms abroad are small. With a carry-on and backpack, you eliminate the issue of being able to fit your suitcase into the room, especially if you’re sharing a space with other people.

So how do I pack lightly on ALL of my trips, no matter how long they are?

Check out these easy packing hacks you can follow!

1 – Use Lightweight Luggage With Plenty of Interior Room

This first packing hack is the most important. You want lightweight, yet strong and reliable luggage that allows you the space and the ability to carry it with you without a struggle.

I like the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Luggage, Black, Carry-On. It’s durable, and this one has the four spinner wheels (which makes things SO much easier), and also the TSA approved lock. Plus, it’s lightweight, which then makes it easier to stay within your airline’s weight limits.

Given that it’s a hardtop, you will also never have to worry about it fitting in the overhead bin space. I’ve seen people forced to place their bags on a luggage scale because they “looked big”. This carry-on can help you eliminate that issue altogether.

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2 – Pack Lightweight Clothing That You Can Layer

You want to be prepared for any kind of weather at your destination. For your travel wardrobe, I recommend packing lightweight clothing that you can layer, for instance, light tanks, flowy tops, tights, cardigans, etc. This way you can pack more while not taking up as much room.

Packing hacks:

  • consider a capsule wardrobe for your carry-on. In other words, pick a color scheme and stick to it. That way you can mix and match all your garments and have more overall outfits to choose from!
  • When putting your garments into your suitcase, make sure you roll them. Doing this saves a ton of room!
roll clothes.jpg
Packing Hack: roll your garments before putting them in your luggage!
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On longer trips, you may be able to do laundry when you’re there. So, just pack only 5-7 days’ worth of outfits and then plan on doing laundry while abroad. Many of the packing cubes sets also come with a bag for dirty laundry, so you’ll have an easy way to keep it separate. This is a great way to travel light and limit excess baggage weight!

3 – Limit Your Shoes

I never pack more than two pairs of shoes. Pick one sandal and one pair of closed-toed shoes, e.g. flats that are comfortable to walk around in. Pick ones that go with all or the majority of your outfits. Then, wear sneakers on the plane, which saves you room in your suitcase and comes in handy for any outdoor activities you may want to do.

4 – Use Travel-Sized Everything

Get travel sized toiletries and favorite products, or, if you can’t, squeeze your favorites into 3 oz. travel size bottles.

Other options include:

  • Use contact lens cases for lotions and creams – especially for creams that you know you’ll only need a little bit of each day. If you don’t wear contacts, you can easily buy them at a drug store, or even go into an optometry clinic and see if they have spares. These cases are so small, you’ll be able to easily fit them into your toiletry bag with room to spare.
  • Repurpose sample-sized containers of your favorite products, for instance from Sephora or Kiehls, and then fill those for your favorite products.
  • Repurpose pill containers and use each compartment for a different lotion or cream that you like.

The packing hack trick to consider here is that you only need a little bit of each thing, and sometimes 3oz bottles are still too big. If anything I mentioned is difficult for you to come by, just take a look around your home for similar things that you can re-purpose to save you space on your travels.

kiehls sample
Packing hack: using sample size containers for your favorite products–>super easy way to save room!

5 – Packing Hacks to Save Your Jewelry

I usually throw everything into a small plastic box that won’t get compressed or crushed.

If you want to prevent tangles and keep things more organized then consider the following packing hacks:

  • Use pill containers to keep everything separate
  • Thread necklaces through straws, or better yet, through loops of your jeans/pants that you pack into your carry on. They’ll stay cushioned among your clothes and stay untangled. (Caution—don’t do this with truly valuable items. I would keep those on your person/in your backpack or personal item at all times.)
  • Place your jewelry into small pouches or bags and tuck them into your shoes before you put them in the carryon.

6 – Fill Your Backpack for in Flight Essentials

In your backpack just pack pajamas and one extra travel outfit (including a set of undergarments) for easy access in case you need to change. In addition, add in your toiletries, valuables (always keep these on your person!), a small first aid kit and any snacks.  You literally just need the essentials.  You don’t want to break your back carrying something too heavy.

7 – Take a Collapsible Bag That Fits in Your Carry On

This packing hack is a game-changer. This allows you extra space without having to lug around a large/heavy suitcase. Because let us all be honest, we always seem to have more stuff coming back from a trip than on the way there. Makes sense though right? We all go shopping for souvenirs.

The collapsible bag I’m referring to is a foldable duffel (see below). Open this bag up to carry extra souvenirs/purchases you make while abroad, then ON THE WAY BACK, you can check in your carry on (if you need to). International flights are less likely to charge you for check-in; even if they do, with this method you may only have to do so on one leg of your journey.

I bought two of these below, one for me and one for my Mom when we went on our trip to Germany. We both took carryons there and then utilized the foldable duffel on the way home!

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8 – Packing Hacks for Random Items

I find that being able to pack lightly with the random stuff you might need like chargers, headphones, curling irons can get really frustrating. My strategy for staying organized, if you don’t have any spare packing cubes, is to group them together in a Ziploc plastic bag. This way they are all together in one place.

If you’re traveling with friends, then divide and conquer. Split up the items amongst yourselves. For instance, you bring a phone charger, and they’ll bring a curling iron. That way there’s not double of everything and you each save space. This is especially useful for those items that you both need/use.


Hopefully, these packing hacks make packing easier for you on your next trip. What are some of your space-saving tricks?? Share them below!

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