This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
Whether you travel once a week or once a year, it feels like packing travel luggage never gets easier. Chances are, you’re one of two types of travelers: the chronic over-packer who gets ready way in advance, or the last-minute packer who throws whatever’s clean in a bag an hour before boarding your plane.
Either way, you’re causing yourself unnecessary stress. Believe it or not, you can actually enjoy packing for vacation, you just need to learn how to do it well. Let us share some pro luggage packing tips!
Whether you’re traveling with a carry-on bag under your arm, an entire hardside luggage set, travel bags, or weekender bags, we’ve got the packing tips to make every trip feel as relaxing as a beach vacation, even before you leave home. Keep reading for our ultimate guide on how to pack luggage and avoid extra baggage fees!
What Are Some Travel Packing Tips and Tricks?
Hopping from flight to flight year-round makes you pretty great at packing a bag. If you watch Harper’s Bazaar’s Little Black Book series, you know Shay’s a self-proclaimed professional packer. Trust us, we’ve seen it go down and it is impressive. Check out this video to see Shay show how to pack for a trip and share her travel essentials and travel bags for women.
Keep reading for some packing tips inspired by the expert herself—starting with packing checklists.
Packing Checklist: Carry-On Travel Bag
First, you’ll want to pick a travel bag with multiple compartments and the storage capabilities of a Mary Poppins bag, like our weekend bag. You’ll want an outer pocket to keep things you’ll need easy access to, like your phone and headphones, and a separate zipper compartment at the bottom for shoes and workout equipment that you don’t want touching the rest of your stuff.
Then, the rest goes in the main compartment. In case you’re wondering, “What should I start packing first?” we broke the packing down into two smaller steps.
Important travel tip: always remember to put your heavy items on the bottom and more fragile items, or lighter items on the top. We know that seems self-explanatory, but you'd be surprised how easy that tip is to forget when packing.
Packing Method: Bags Within Bags
Resist the urge to throw everything into the main compartment and create an organized system that’ll keep everything clean and easy to find, and save extra space. In fact, don't be afraid to bring extra bags if you're going on a big trip. Hardside luggage sets are a great, easy way to keep all your belongings organized.
Here are the items that should either have a designated place in your bag, or that you should group together into smaller bags yourself:
- Essentials – Keep your small items such as your wallet, passport holder, and sunglasses in a zipper pocket inside the main compartment to keep them extra safe and easy to locate.
- Electronics – Put your laptop or tablet in the padded computer sleeve inside your bag.
- A “staying alive bag” – Take a quart-sized ziploc bag or a small zippered pouch and fill it with daily vitamins and supplements (like turmeric, vitamin C, or probiotics) and tea bags. All the essentials for when that check in luggage inevitably goes missing at the bag carousel!
- Germ protection – Keep another small bag of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer so you can clean down your seat and tray table, and do a once-over on high-touch surfaces in the hotel room—Shay even brings a shower cap to put over the remote.
Toiletries – A spill-proof dopp kit (toiletry bag) for smaller items like deodorant, a pill organizer, a toothbrush and toothpaste, your daily skincare routine, and face masks to use in-flight.
- Cosmetics – A multi-tasking makeup case to hold your makeup and brushes. Your cosmetic essentials come in various sizes so the right travel makeup bag makes all the difference to quickly find your lip balm or setting spray on the go.
Throw the Rest in
Okay, now here are the things you throw in:
- Charging supplies – Chargers for your phone, laptop, or tablet, at least one portable power bank, and a travel adapter.
- An extra pair of headphones – Bluetooth headphones are great for your devices, but you’ll also want regular 3.5mm headphones, just in case you want to use the in-flight entertainment system. Don’t make yourself decide if the latest Oscar-winner is worth putting on the $2 headphones you buy from the airline.
- Reading materials – Besides any work-related reading you need to do, bring a journal or calming book, a highlighter, and a pen.
- Snack setup – You shouldn’t rely on a bag of four mini pretzels and a tiny cup of water to sustain you throughout the flight. Bring a reusable water bottle to use at the airport, pack snacks, some napkins or tissues, mints or gum, and most importantly, some Shay-approved hot sauce to-go.
- Nap-time must-haves – Pack a pair of socks or slippers to keep your toes from freezing, a sleep mask, hair scrunchie, and travel or neck pillow. Bring a silk or copper pillowcase for when you arrive, seeing as the medically-backed benefits will totally hide the fact you didn’t sleep on the plane because of all the crying babies.
Packing Checklist: Checked Luggage
Now that we’ve got the hand luggage out of the way, the checked bag will be a breeze—thanks to the fact that with checked bags, there’s one major travel packing tip to rule them all: packing cubes. There’s a reason travel packing tips always include them. It's a huge luggage space saver that keeps you organized when you're packing your bags and unpacking them at your destination.
Essentially, you’re following the bags within bags concept for the carry-on, except each type of clothing goes together in whatever size cube you need (shirts with shirts, pants with pants...you get the idea). And that’s it.
How’s that for an easy packing list?
How to Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are the best way to pack a suitcase so you can kiss your years of folding goodbye (and wearing crunchy-looking blouses to dinner) and say hello to rolling clothes. Seriously. Choose the size of the packing cube you’ll need and then roll each item, packing them tightly side by side, but not overcrowding. This will keep your clothes from moving around too much when your bag is inevitably tossed around during travel (which will help prevent wrinkles).
How Do You Save Space When Packing? (Besides Packing Cubes)
Saving suitcase space is the name of the game when it comes to packing a travel bag, especially if you’re planning on shopping.
And honestly, who isn’t?
Here are some packing tips that’ll make your trip a whole lot less stressful:
- Strategic outfit planning – Bring neutral colored basics that you can re-wear and statement pieces to pair with them, so you create multiple outfits with the same clothes.
- The three shoe rule – Decide on one color of shoes that will go with all your outfits, and then only pack shoes that are that color. Most trips only require three pairs of shoes: casual shoes, going-out shoes, and sneakers.
- Lighten up your checked baggage – Wear your heaviest shoes to the airport, and switch them out for the socks or slippers in your carry-on bag during the flight. Between the heavy shoes you’re wearing and the sneakers you have with you, you’ll have enough room to bring a fourth pair home. Wink wink.
- Bring scarves – They take up basically no space, add a new element to clothes you’re re-wearing, have multiple uses (like a sarong for the beach), are great for unpredictable weather changes, and are fantastic for countries or events that require a little more cover up.
Get a collapsible bag – A foldable garment bag is a great way to bring a bag for the beach, gym, or local markets without trying to squeeze yet another thing into your carry on suitcase.
- Pack liquids together - our luggage, travel backpack, and several other bags come with a water-resistant plastic pouch built right in so you don’t have to worry about minty toothpaste explosions all over your brand new tops. We’ve all been there.
How Should I Pack for 60 Days?
Fitting enough clothes for one month between two carry-ons and a checked bag is doable, but what about two months? Before you go searching for a second large suitcase, there’s a much easier alternative. Long-term travel packing hacks are the same as they are for a regular trip, except… you do laundry. Don't forget to make a list of stylish essentials you won't be able to live without to make sure you aren't missing something important like a !
There are laundry facilities at most hotels, rentals, and even hostels. You can easily find a local dry cleaner too. If you’re worried about something happening to an expensive, one-of-a-kind, or sentimental piece during the away-from-home laundry process, don’t wash those items until you’re back. Just make sure to bring clothes you do feel comfortable washing, that way you have something to re-wear.
Here are some traveling tips for doing laundry on a trip:
- Dirty clothes bags (one for regular clothes, one for dry clean only). Our luggage comes with a Dirty Bag, you’re welcome.
- Make sure you have the local currency so you can support small businesses that don’t take credit cards.
- Buy detergent when you get there, but if you want to bring dryer sheets, add one to every cube to keep things fresh, and then use them when the time comes.
- If you’re doing your own laundry, consider bringing mesh laundry bags, a travel clothesline, and a travel steamer to take care of your delicates.
How to Stop Overpacking
We have to make peace with leaving things behind and worry more about how efficiently we’re packing rather than how much stuff we can squeeze into a suitcase. It's time to say goodbye to the ! Psychologist and author Laura Fielding says that most people are “aiming to cover their butts when they pack", yet they're all capable of packing light.
We’ve been taught that if we’re going into the unknown, we have to be prepared for absolutely everything. But in your day-to-day life, are you ever prepared for everything? Who hasn’t been stuck in unexpected traffic, or showed up to a party underdressed, or spilled red wine on literally anything? And we all lived to tell the story.
Being Efficient with BÈIS
Now that you know more about packing luggage efficiently for a day trip, long trip or weekend trip (need a few dreamy girls ideas?), what was your favorite packing tip? Remember, traveling efficiently means focusing on quality over quantity. That goes for what you’re packing, and what bags you’re packing it in. Having the travel gear to pack better gets rid of all that stress you feel right before going on a trip—but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice a fashionable form for a bag with great function.
At BÈIS, you can get beautiful multi-purpose travel bags and luggage that are just as stylish as they are crafty. From toiletry bags to a passport holder, to roller luggage fully equipped with weight indicators and TSA-approved locks, you aren’t just looking good, but you’re traveling like a pro.
- Healthline. It’s Time to Add Silk or Cotton Pillowcases to Your Sleep Routine. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/pillowcase-benefits#copper-pillowcases
- Vox. The psychology behind over-(and under-) packing. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/1/16/21065669/psychology-over-under-packing