Travel Tip Tuesday: Space-Saving Packing Tips

Ahhh … remember the good ole days when we could over-stuff two full-sized suitcases and an overflowing carry on and be waved onto the plane with a smile? Sure you remember. It was last month.

But things aren’t going to be so easy from now on, especially for those of you flying domestically within the US. So far even the stingiest of airlines are still allowing international travelers to check two bags without incurring additional fees. I’m holding my breath.

With these new limitations it is more important than ever to pack wisely. Lucky for you, I consider myself an expert packer and I’m going to impart a bit of that wisdom on to you today.

Cherrye’s Space-Saving Packing Tips:

>> First and foremost, pack wisely! Carry clothes that don’t wrinkle easily and choose items you can mix and match. If I can’t wear a shirt with more than one pair of pants or jeans, I don’t take it.

>> Same goes with the shoes. I love fancy feet accessories as much as the next gal, but if you can’t wear them with more than one set of clothes, leave them at home.

>> Evaluate where you are going and select shoes and clothing appropriately. I went to Paris a few years ago – in January – and knew quite well I would only been “seen” in a heavy coat. I carried a variety of bright scarves and gloves to accent my clothing and wore the same pair of boots for two weeks! I then had to toss them when I returned home because I had literally worn them out, but that is another story!

>> Instead of taking your entire guide book series, photocopy the relevant pages and take the copies. Guide books are HEAVY!

>> Choose 2-3 of your most important beauty items and take those. Leave everything else behind. You really won’t miss them. Many hotels offer shower gel and shampoo and most have hairdryers. If you are unsure, check their website or call and ask.

>> Wear your heaviest shoes on the plane and layer your clothing. It might be a hassle to take those shoes off in the security line, but at least you won’t have to pay overage on your luggage.

>> It worked when I backpacked around Europe and I still swear by it … ROLL your clothes. You can roll jeans, pants, sweaters, tops … anything! Roll them and stack them side by side along the bottom of half of your suitcase, then fill in the other half with everything else.

>> Pack socks and personal undergarments in the space between the rolls. That’s right – forget about that wimpy little sack on the side of the suitcase. It expands when you fill it and consumes valuable packing space. Use that “free space” instead between the rolls of your clothes.

>> Pack breakables inside your clothes. In a recent trip I brought personal picture frames and framed art from the US. I wrapped long sleeved t-shirts and sweaters around the frames, as if I was gift wrapping them, and placed them between the rows of rolled clothes. It worked like a charm.

What packing tips always save you time and space? What is your favorite packing secret? Come on … you can tell us!

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

17 Responses
  1. Yup, roll on! 😀

    But what to do with people like me who ALWAYS bring too many clothes? First I take out all the clothes I want to bring, then I put half back into the closet, then I start ironing and put even more clothes back into the closet but in the end I always end up bringing clothes back home that I haven’t worn even once. What’s up with that, and is there a cure?

  2. joanne at frutto della passione

    The only make up I take when I travel is eyeliner, maschara and lipgloss. I carry those two in one shampoo/conditioner products and the shampoo/shower gel combo for the boys.
    When I travel to Canada, I don’t take any of that stuff because I use my sister’s!

  3. I always end up wrinkled either way I go, so I also carry wrinkle remover spray with me when I can!

    Annika, I hear you. Do you make a list? I make a list for every day I will be gone and write down what I can wear that day. Then, you have a really clear understanding of exactly how much you need. If you just say X number of tops, X number of t-shirts, etc you will likely overpack.
    Seriously, my list is like
    Monday: blue tank, striped shirt, jeans, blue tennis shoes
    Tuesday: blue tank, blah blah…

    (for example…)

  4. Ha, Joanne. I take A LOT less when I go to TX, too. That is what sisters are for, right?

    Running – great idea. I had not even considered that.

    How funny, Robin. I am heading over.

    NYC – Thank you. I’m going to be coming to you soon for some of your tips!

  5. j

    When I go to Europe I always take some clothes I don’t care about that I just throw away when I’m there to make room for whatever I buy there.

    When I am debating about whether or not to bring something I remind myself that is what stores are for. If I really need it and didn’t bring it, I can buy it…and they even have stores in CZ, right Cherrye?

  6. Good tips, Cherrye! I’ve been traveling internationally since I was 5 – and my mother is a Grand Master Packer (if there is such a designation). You’ve given me my next blog subject… how we used to pack, and how I pack now.

    In brief – I too always think ahead to the actual events of the trip. If it’s going to be casual almost all the time, then I’ll pack just one pair of khakis, wear one pair of jeans, 3 or 4 tops, at least 2 of which can be used as “jackets”. 2 pairs of shoes – walking and slightly more dressy. DH and I are not much for formal affairs so that helps in the wardrobe department. I take 2-3 sets of undergarments. And yes, I do a lot of hand-washing. But I have the freedom of carrying on my bag instead of hoping that it doesn’t get smashed by our baggage-handling friends. Our last trip was 28 days around Italy, and we carried on when going over… and checked one bag of books coming back.

    As for rolling – I like packing cubes a lot, and you can roll in them, or just fold. My clothes are usually from Travel Smith, or sometimes Duluth or Lands End. My stylin’ days are long over – now I am after *presentable* and *comfortable*. As my mother always said – your best accessory (and makeup) is your heartfelt smile and sparkling eyes. You can’t have those if you are dragging heavy suitcases around and worrying about where to stash them. 🙂

  7. I knew you would have some good tips to share, Britni!

    I hear ya, Anne. Isn’t that funny?

    We do have stores, J. Lots of them. With expensive shoes! 🙂

    Amyemilia – I can’t wait to read about the differences in how you packed as a kid and now. I have never attempted to just go with a carry on, but I am considering it for my next trip to Texas this summer. Of course, I will have to check bags on my way back. I will have too many goodies with me!

  8. I’ve some others… although I swear I invented the rolling thing in 1979! 3 weeks in Europe with 1 beach tote.
    When I moved here in winter and would have to wait months for my shipment, I used vacuum bags and got everything into two big garment bags– which had to be thrown out afterwards. I even packed a down comforter, and a very good thing I did. Thing is, you can make your stuff much smaller, but it still weighs just as much, and those bags were dragged around and wrecked. But I needed that stuff that one time.
    Otherwise I am a more than practical packer and believe in dressing up a bit too, the secret being a single color scheme whatever it might be (once mine was fuchsia, khaki and purple) light accessories and only two pairs of shoes. While a robe is necessary at home, I never travel with one, but use whatever comes to hand.
    I don’t buy special travel clothes, but use things I have that stand up well and wash easily. I cultivate that BoHo wrinkled look anyway. I think the pareo may be the single most useful garment a woman can carry in summer. Mine have been everything from extra blanket to evening gown.
    Cosmetics? Hah! Let them eat cake– except for Burt’s Bees solid shampoo cake and if the weather is under 98 F, Lush’s solid massage bars instead of body lotion.

  9. Oooh, what is Burt’s Bees solid shampoo cake and Lush’s solid massage bars? I gotta get some of those!! I moved (and still use for moving purposes) those vacuum bags. The extra jumbo one is huge! We put our new comforter inside one, and I’ve brought almost all of my clothes in them. We also bought all of the B&B towels in America and transported them with those bags. They are great!

  10. I am a big fan of rolling too, saves lots of space. First I pick a “color” theme. Red, navy & khaki. Black, white, red and kahki but stick with a basic color scheme. OK…I also take my rattiest worn out underwear (sorry Mom) and throw them away at the end of the day instead of using valuable space for dirty underwear. I also pack Biosilk Silk Therapy because it works great as a moisturizer for my face, leg shaving as well as for my hair. After everything is tightly rolled I stuff my socks inside my shoes before I shove the shoes around the outside edge of the suitcase with the soles facing away from my clothes. In my carryon, I have my favorite book, an oversized t-shirt, bathing suit, daily medications, toothbrush and basic makeup. That way if my luggage and I happen to part company I can at least go to the pool and use my t-shirt as cover up and also have something to sleep in.

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