I hate to feel weighed down, especially when I’m traveling. Any way that I can reduce the volume and weight of what I’m carrying I’m always all ears for.

I can still remember how bad I was at packing efficiently when I first started traveling during college. I went away for a weekend to Salzburg, Austria and brought a wheelie duffle bag that I had to check. I even brought two coats with me! I knew nothing about the concept of packing light.

Thankfully over the years I have perfected my packing and have it almost down to a science. Here are my tips for how to save space packing.

CLOTHING

Roll your clothing

Not only does it save space, it also keeps your clothing less wrinkly. If you’re using packing cubes, the rolled items fit neatly inside them.

Use Ziplock bags

If you are bringing unusual sized items and can’t stack your packing cubes inside your suitcase the way they were designed to fit, it’s easier to pack with gallon ziplock bags. They still keep things separated and organized but in smaller pouches, so you have more options for how you can arrange them inside your suitcase.

Use your shoes for storage

Especially if you’re packing more bulky shoes like sneakers and boots, all that inside space is wasted. Fill them with socks or underwear.

Bring a packable down coat instead of a heavy wool coat

Packable down coats are great for travel. They come with their own pouch to compress into and still keep you warm.

Use your coat keeper

Many wheeling suitcases have a coat keeper attached to the top. If you don’t want to wear your coat but also don’t want to waste space packing it, simply use the coat keeper to attach your coat to the outside of your bag. The airlines won’t penalize you for having a coat as an extra carry on that you’re not wearing.

Bring fewer pairs of underwear

Although underwear doesn’t take up that much room, any space is space. If you’re going away for more than a week, only take one weeks worth. Pack some detergent packets and handwash them in the sink as you go.

Pack a poncho instead of a raincoat or umbrella

Unless you know it’s going to downpour enough that you really need a real raincoat or umbrella just stick a poncho in your bag. It’s much lighter, can cover yourself and your bag while you’re walking around and you can dispose of it at the end of your trip.

TOILETRIES

Use multiple toiletry bags

I’ve found that when you’re packing it’s harder to make fewer larger items fit than it is to make more smaller ones fit. I pack two smaller bags. One with my liquids and one with everything else.

Use smaller bottles

If you’re going away for only a week you don’t really need the entire 100ml allowed size product that most travel items are sold in. Transfer your liquids to smaller ones. MUJI has some great 30ml ones.

Use pill bags

Pill bottles are always a pain to pack. Instead of bringing the entire bottle, get some pill bags and relabel them. Only bring the number of pills you will need so you aren’t carrying any excess.

Use individual product packets

Lots of products now have individual use packets that are flat so they are easier to pack and you can throw away them as you go. As an alternative to having to carry a whole bottle, I often carry individual bug spray wipes. I also use individual Tide detergent packets.

Use a toothbrush cover

You really just need to cover the brush end of your toothbrush to protect it. Get a brush head cover instead of a bulky container that covers the entire toothbrush. Worried about keeping it clean? Put it in a ziplock bag.

Use daily contacts

Do you wear contacts? When I’m home I wear contacts that you can re-use up to one month. Packing contact solution is a huge pain because the bottles are larger and wider than most and you can’t transfer the liquid to another container (to keep it sterile). And even though contact solution is technically considered medical and not required to abide by the 100ml liquid limit it can vary by airport. I’ve recently started wearing dailies while I travel. No contact solution required, and you throw them out as you go, reducing space in your bag.

OTHER

Bring a Kindle

Don’t carry the weight of multiple heavy books for your long plane ride. I even download my travel guides onto my Kindle and highlight sections for notes.

Consolidate cords and buy shorter versions

Consolidate your charging cords if you have multiple devices that share the same kind (my camera and my Kindle both use the same micro USB cord). It also sometimes helps to buy a shorter version of cords that you need so there’s less cord getting tangled inside your bag.

If you can buy it there don’t bring it

There are always things that I think I’ll need “just in case.” But I usually never end up needing them. If it’s something you think you “might” need and you know it’s for sale where you are going, don’t pack it. If you really need it you can buy it there.


How do you save space packing? Comment below and let me know!