Our Top 13 Packing Tips to Help Stop You From Overpacking!

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woman traveling at airport

Calling all travel enthusiasts! 🗣

As the worldwide pandemic took over, everyone halted travel and we were cooped up inside our homes with an itch to getaway. Now that we’re getting the chance to venture out again, many people are eager to make travel their personality trait once more (i.e me). 🤣

✈️ General Hip Tips for current travel times: 

  • Buy flights and book early! Prices have been skyrocketing as demand for travel has been increasing.
  • Try to protect your plans. Purchase travel insurance that includes COVID-19 related disruptions and double-check to make sure they do.

All in all, traveling is a fun escape and should be an effortless process whether it’s for work or just to getaway.

Here are some of my top packing tips that will stop you from overpacking, and make your packing go smoothly and feel stress-free… as it should be! 😁


1. Make a check-off list before packing 📝.

top packing tips - packing checklist on computer

We’ve all been there. We convince ourselves we’ll pack in advance but it ends up being a madhouse the night before trying to get everything together. This may be an obvious packing tip, but honestly, it’s the most important one.

Your packing list should contain everything you need for a trip & what you still need to buy. This avoids any last-minute packing or forgetting any essentials, so make sure you start your list a week or two in advance.

Check out this online packing template that helps me figure out what I need every time!


2. Avoid packing your bulkier items and wear them on the plane instead.

girl wearing black jacket

You guys know exactly what I’m talking about. Yup, that big jacket or bulky shoes you can’t go anywhere without. If you don’t want to wear the jacket, simply tie it around your waist and it’ll save you so much room in your luggage for something else!


3. Roll, don’t fold when packing up clothes!

clothes rolled on the bed

My mom swears by this packing tip and so do a lot of other fellow traveler experts! It saves a lot of room and gives you that extra space you may need. For more delicate clothes (i.e. satin and silk), roll them around a piece of packing paper to avoid wrinkles or creases.


4. Packing cubes, packing cubes, packing cubes…

packing cubes in suitcase

Initially, I never understood the importance of packing cubes until I saw my friend pack. It’s like having drawers in your suitcase to separate all your clothes from being meshed together. It’s super light and so versatile, giving you the organization and the convenience of quickly packing/unpacking on the road.

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper route, there are compression bags widely available too! You should opt for these if you’re packing bulkier items as they save more space than packing cubes.


5. Always pack by outfit!

clothes laid out on bed before packing

The number of times I’ve brought clothes that I never even ended up wearing. 🙃 Deciding on your outfits beforehand can save sooo much space AND time during your trip so you won’t be overthinking about what you’ll wear each day.

Hip Tip: Make sure to check the weather in advance to plan the outfits accordingly.


6. Have dryer sheets on deck for a fresher suitcase.

dryer sheet bounce on suitcase as a helpful packing tip for fresh clothes

No one wants to smell musty. Another top packing tip is to lay some dryer sheets out when traveling to have your clothes smelling fresh and clean. You can also leave dryer sheets in suitcases to keep them smelling fresh while you’re awaiting the next trip.


7. Bring an all-inclusive first-aid kit!

hand holding travel first aid bag in store

Anything can happen on vacation, so it’s always good to be prepared. Dollar Tree and Target have amazing first aid kits with band-aids, gauze, antibacterial ointments, tweezers, and antiseptic wipes. Everyone has different medical needs so you can refine them periodically by what you or your family need. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 🤕

Other things that may come in handy:


8. Grab some Ziploc bags for packing away smaller items.

masks inside Ziploc bags

These are holy grails for storage. Whether you want to separate your items, bring snacks on the go, or put your electronic cords in one place, it can be extremely helpful to carry around some spare Ziploc bags.

I’ve had liquid spills from a conditioner bottle in my carry-ons before but since I had stuck the bottle in a plastic bag, it ended up not getting all over my other belongings. Saved by the Ziploc! ✨ You never know what you might need them for.


9. Have a portable power bank at hand.

grey mophie powerbank charging iphone and ipad

This is my biggest go-to packing and general travel tip! For some strange reason, my phone always ends up being on 5% when I need it the most, especially on trips. It’s hard to locate an outlet when you’re out and about so a power bank can definitely come in handy.

Warning: If you’re flying by plane, make sure you put the power bank in your personal carry-on and NOT in your checked-in luggage as they are prohibited in the cargo transport.


10. Avoid buying too many travel-size toiletries.

travel sized pouches and spray bottle are great when packing

Instead, buy the empty containers that’ll store the contents of the full-sized products you already own, such as shampoos, conditioners, heat protectants, or hair oils that you may need on the trip. You can keep the empty containers for the next trip too and restock with what you already have, so no need to spend that extra $$!

Personally, I regularly dye my hair so the upkeep products I use are super-specific and the travel-size higher-end brands can get so expensive. So why not save money while you’re traveling instead and avoid buying a different shampoo/conditioner brand that can end up damaging your hair?


11. Bring along an empty reusable water bottle!

hand holding Target Brita Water Bottle

When most destinations have safe drinking water, why waste the money on plastic water bottles when you can just take a reusable one? Fill it up post-security at the airport or even ask the cafes if you feel uncomfortable using water fountains. This packing tip is environmentally friendly and a great way to save.

These Brita water bottles have a filter inside… how convenient is that!?


12. Leave extra room in suitcase/personal bag.

painting souvenir in a bag

I love bringing back keepsakes and souvenirs each time I visit any destination. Although, I always end up having a hassle trying to fit things into my massive, already-filled suitcase. 😅  It’s a safe option to keep some space available in your bags for whatever you may want to bring back.


13. Use a carry-on to instinctively limit overpacking and make flying a breeze!

woman traveling through airport with carry on luggage as a helpful packing tip

Collin’s favorite travel tip is to always use a carry-on instead of checked luggage. Not only does it zip you through your travels quicker (see ya later, baggage claim!) but it also forces you to be mindful about your packing.

There’s only so much you can fit so you’ll think twice about stashing in that extra bulky cardigan you know you won’t end up wearing. 😉


More travel deals and tips this way

Join The Discussion

Comments 20

  1. Sherry

    We traveled to Portugal and Spain for 6 weeks. We just brought a carryon and a backpack. We packed some things we didn’t need. We plan on going to eastern Europe for 3 months when it opens up. I plan on taking the same luggage but with less stuff. The trick is stay at BNB’S with a washer, take washable and comfortable clothes, small containers of products you use. Train travel is essential over there and it is easier to hop trains with less stuff. Your tips are all spot on.

    • BlueWaterGirl

      Sherry. We travel to Europe a couple times a year but as I was reading your comment, I could have written it! Spent 6 weeks in Spain and Portugal right before Covid hit for 1 of our trips, we planned on spending 3 months in Portugal during the pandemic because I’m also a Portugal citizen and could. Unfortunately we haven’t and life is getting in the way, but agree on the BNBs with washers, etc. Safe travels!

    • Suzanne H

      When I was younger, I train hopped around Europe several times with a friend. We used to save up our ratty underwear and then we would throw them out after we wore them. We did the same with socks. Now I know I can recycle textiles but didn’t then. As time went on, it was nice to have our backpacks getting lighter and lighter!

      • Jodi P

        I do the same thing! It makes room in the baggage for souvenirs or new clothes bought on the trip.

  2. Bunny

    For super long trips (talking months here!) I pack clothes I’m ready to part with. When we’re getting ready to fly home, I leave the cleaned and washed clothes on a nearby park bench. They always seem to get recycled very quickly by someone else.

  3. jat54979

    My husband and I are taking a trip to Tennessee in August for our Anniversary. I’m so glad I booked the hotel a month ago because now the price has doubled! For packing toiletries I use all those sample size products I get from beauty boxes.

  4. Emily

    I am totally a “personal item” convert. It started as a way to avoid baggage fees (looking at you spirit airlines), but ultimately I like how mobile it makes me. Going through the airport is a breeze when you aren’t wrangling multiple bags, taking a bus/train/uber after getting off the plane is easier, and it forces you to be very diligent about what you’re packing.

    You’d be surprised how little you actually need on vacation if you only pack in a backpack! (and those packing cubes are an absolute godsend if you choose to pack this way)

  5. Chrissy Goff

    When I travel to Germany every year I put my carry on into my checked suitcase (it is empty). On the way back I have the suitcase full (do the same with my granddaughter’s bags) because my mother sends me home with everything but the kitchen sink. Things that I can’t get over here (one time she sent me home with rolls of wallpaper) and family items as she is afraid of dying over there and us not getting family items. Once year it will be Christmas items, another dishes etc. I wanted to just pack up her apartment and ship it so she could move over here (it used to be cheap or was when my brother moved here years ago) but she wants to die a German not an American. Now it is to late as she is 80. Sometimes I have to put my purse into a backpack just to fit everything. Years ago I had a friend that worked for the military and he used to mail my packages for me (APO to NY was free so only paid money from NY to AR) however he retired and has returned to the states. I am sure it will be fun to travel this year.

  6. Jen S

    I just got back from a trip and we only use carry-ons. Love it! It was my first time using a set of packing cubes I bought at Aldi’s a year ago. Love them! I didn’t even have to roll anything!!! As for toiletries, I read somewhere that contact lens cases are the best for small amounts of makeup foundation, etc. Just be sure to label compartments. I wish I had time to buy them before the trip!

  7. yjr2004

    I just got back from a trip to Hawaii. We only do carry-on and backpacks. The best thing I have found for packing is compression bags. You can fit so much stuff in a carry-on suitcase and still have room. These work really well for my teenage daughter. She is always the over packer, but with these bags she can pack a lot.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing! Great tip! I tend to overpack too!

  8. Freedom

    I have adopted most of these tips as well over the years. Leaving tomorrow for 2 week vacation. Carry on and personal bag family only as well.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Have a wonderful trip!

  9. Fmjk

    I save up the paper perfume samples that fall out of all my magazine subscriptions…They go into our suitcases to keep them smelling nice. Once we get to our destination, I use them to line the drawers where we are staying!

  10. Mitali

    Great travel tips! I just took a trip last month to the midwest for my brother’s wedding. We had a lot of bag space fortunately because we flew Southwest. Even then, I thought of ways to save some space. My best tip is that Lush makes waterless toothpaste tabs that you can keep in your carryon luggage. For long trips, you don’t need to worry about stocking up on those tiny tubes–lots of waste and they take up space depending on how many you’ll need!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      I’ve never heard of those toothpaste tabs! I’m going to check them out! Thanks, Mitali!

      • Mitali

        You’re welcome! Lush also has shampoo, conditioner and lotion bars that are waterless! Not trying to plug them but I guess since they’re all about being eco-friendly their products happen to work well for long trips and packing smart!

        • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

          I think that’s really cool! Thank you again!

          • Mitali

            You’re welcome again 🙂

  11. Sara

    Packing cubes changed my (traveling) life! I personally like eBags and buy them only on sale (25-30% off). Each person in our family of five has three medium cubes in their favorite color. We can pack everything we need for 10-14 days in one checked suitcase and a small backpack for each person. Thanks Delta Amex for the free checked suitcase. When the mister and I are traveling alone, it’s a backpack and carryon for each of us, and packing cubes save the day. Also, my mom taught me this trick- if you travel with a neck pillow, take the foam out and stuff your neck pillow with clothes! I did this on our trip to Norway and fit a couple of sweaters in the neck pillow.

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