essential packing tips for travel
Lifestyle, Travel

Essential Packing Tips For Travel

essential packing tips for travel

Dresses: blue floral // pink floral // blue with embroidery.  Tops: sheer ruffle blouse // off the shoulder Bottoms:  heart patch shorts (on sale) // denim skirt.  Rose Saddle Bag.  Shoes:  kitty flats // grey heels (on sale and free shipping)

Packing Tips For Travel

After traveling with lots of different people, I’ve learned a lot of dos and don’ts about packing. I’ve traveled with good packers — my friend Eliot is the most efficient packer I have ever met — and I’ve traveled with people who pack everything they own for a two day trip and still end up borrowing my clothes (ahem, Kim, I’m looking at you). My friend Holly is one of those great packers who can go on a two month trip to Asia with nothing but a carry on, and while I’m not a strictly carry on girl, I’m a surprisingly efficient packer. I wasn’t always that way, but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. Let’s just say that on a blogger trip, I’m the one with the lightest load. Holly and I made a list of our essential packing tips for travel, so you can efficiently pack for your next trip!

1. Plan your outfits in advance

Holly: Before packing anything, I like to figure out exactly how many pieces I can mix and match to make as many outfits I want to wear. This method allows me to pack less and maximize the space in my suitcase. For longer trips or if you will be in multiple climates, packing can be tricky, but if you take the time to plan in advance you can layer or wear things in different ways. I like to lay out everything I want to wear, then build as many outfits with those pieces and then adding in more as necessary. I also try to bring as little outerwear and shoes since they take up the most room. So I’ll put together all my outfits then try to pick 1-2 jackets and shoes that go with the most outfits. Sometimes I’ll even write down the outfit combinations while I’m packing to keep track of how many combinations I have, but this is also helpful on my trip if I need to get ready quickly I already have a list of possible choices.

2. Choose a color story

Keiko: Much like Holly, I try to plan out my outfits in advance, and I love to mix and match. One pair of jeans, a skirt, and a pair of shorts with multiple tops = many options, and I add in a dress or two. But my main packing tip is to choose a color story. This cuts down on the shoes and bags, because everything will match! Neutrals are always an easy go-to, but I usually go for pieces that pair well with pops of red or pastels and cream colors. As you can see from these photos, I went with light pinks and blues and creams, with a pair of go-with-everything grey heels (comfy with a low, chunky heel) and a pair of flats. I usually wear my worn in pink Converse or a pair of Keds on the plane, which are also versatile and great for walking – and easy to slip on and off in the security line. If I’m going to a warmer destination, I’ll swap out or add a pair of sandals.

essential packing tips for travel

handy packing cubes for efficient and organized travel


3. Use packing cubes

Holly: When I first heard of packing cubes I was extremely skeptical about how useful they would be. My friend Carly swears by them, and when I saw how much she was able to pack by simply using packing cubes I was sold! The way these work is basically it condenses the air out of each one so you can fit more in the same amount of space. Depending on what I’m packing I’ll either roll or fold to avoid wrinkles. An added bonus is that it helps keep me organized and know exactly where everything is when I open my suitcase instead of digging around.

Keiko: I ordered these packing cubes (pictured) with free prime shipping, and they were easily one of the best purchases I’ve made in awhile. I picked up that packing tip from Holly, who got it from Carly. It keeps everything super organized, so I don’t have to rummage around in my suitcase, and comes with multiple size options for every need. I divide them into dresses, tops, and bottoms, with one for delicates and pajamas, and shoes one or two pairs to a small cube (sandals can be doubled up). And if you’re a makeup and skin care fanatic like me, add a travel makeup bag to your list. The one I have from Tumi is life-changing but unfortunately no longer available, and I’ve yet to find anything quite as great — but something as simple and inexpensive as this can still be a worthy addition to keep everything nice and tidy.

3. Utilize the space inside your suitcase properly

Holly: I like to utilize every nook and cranny in my suitcase. This means sometimes I will wrap and pack each individual shoe separately. This might seem strange, but I like to utilize the space in between the handles. I’ll place each shoe in between the bars and then put my clothes on top of that so the recessed space doesn’t go to waste. If you’re using packing cubes, it not only keeps everything organized but also helps you see the empty space more clearly. Packing efficiently can be like playing a game of tetris, so don’t hesitate to move things around!

4. Pack for the space below the seat in front of you

Holly: Aside from my suitcase I always pack for the “space below the seat in front of you” – this space usually fits a backpack or a large tote or purse. I like to keep my laptop and valuables, along with anything I want to use while I’m at the airport or during my flight in this bag. To keep it all organized, I usually will use different zipped pouches to organize by function. I’ll have 1 pouch with chargers and other random electronics and 1 pouch with travel size skin care/toiletries that is easy to grab when I go thru security.

Keiko: I have my “go bag” — it’s an old men’s Coach backpack with a million pockets and space for just about everything valuable. Laptop, chargers, Wacom tablet, cameras, you name it. I don’t pack any valuables in my checked baggage, and I always make sure to have some essentials (like basic toiletries and one change of clothes), just in case my checked baggage goes missing or is delayed. This has saved me more than once. It also ensures that I can keep everything valuable and breakable with me under the seat, when they run out of overhead space and make us check our larger carry ons!

5. Wear your heaviest layers/bulkiest shoes

Holly: This is probably a no-brainer packing tip, but it’s worth mentioning wear your heaviest and bulkiest items on the flight. This might seem really annoying but this saves you so much space in your luggage and if you get cold on the flight you can also use it as a blanket.  Just make sure you remember to grab your coat before you deplane!

essential packing tips for travel

My sleek, light blue Raden suitcase is super functional, self weighing, and has charging capabilities!


6. Double check the size and weight of your suitcase

Holly: These days airlines are getting stricter about the size and weight of your luggage. Double check the airline’s baggage policy prior to your flight, especially if you are flying a low cost carrier – you don’t want to get slammed with a baggage fee because you weren’t prepared. Also, international airlines have different size/weight requirements than domestic US airlines, most of them have smaller carry on size/weight requirements than US airlines.

Keiko: I carry a portable scale with me that takes up little room and keeps my baggage weight in check. But my new Raden suitcase has a built in scale, so I can use their app to check how heavy my bag is! It also has USB ports for portable charging, which is very handy — especially on international trips. Make sure to keep your baggage underweight, especially if you’re planning on bringing anything back. Note: sometimes it’s actually cheaper to check a second bag than pay the overweight fee. It’s just not worth the extra charge!

7. Make sure you have a luggage tag on your suitcase, and even your carry on!

Holly: Have you ever had to gate check your bag because all the overhead bins are full? That’s happened to me before on small commuter flights and when a flight is fully booked. Plan ahead and make sure your contact info is on all of your bags just in case anything unexpected comes up. Psst…I’m obsessed with these Rilakkuma, Disney, and Totoro tags!

8. Go wrinkle-free

Keiko: As a rule, I don’t pack clothing that easily wrinkles. But even the most fuss-free clothing gets a little wrinkled after being packed into a suitcase, even if you carefully roll it (I do not — I like to see it laid out in the cubes). I do not leave home without this handy travel steamer (I have it in black but it also comes in pink!), which takes wrinkles out in the blink of an eye. It’s the best, tiny but mighty steamer I’ve ever used and takes up very little space. Of all of my packing tips, I hope you consider investing in a travel steamer – and I highly recommend the one I have. You just add water, plug it in, and steam out the wrinkles in a flash. Totally worth it!

Packing Tips styling by Epicurean Emily and Holly Wang , photos by me and Emily.

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  1. Ray says:

    I never used to plan my outfits and would end up with a large suitcase which I dislike. Planning outfits in advance is a sure way to travel lighter. Great tips.

  2. Diana says:

    I’ve heard people swear by the packing cubes! Also, learning how to live in a carry on suitcase has changed (!!!!) travelling for the better. I highly recommend people trying to do it, you’ll wonder why you ever needed to check a full suitcase!

  3. Corina says:

    I’m going on a trip to the East Coast soon. thanks for posting all these great tips. Perfect timing.

  4. Emily Denise says:

    You & Holly have sold me on the packing cubes… The organization freak in me loves how they create a separate compartment for everything!

    XO, Emily
    Epicurean Emily

  5. Roxy says: