Top 3 Tricks You Need to Pack Light

Hacking Your Packing

If you've been following along in our packing series, you've read a manifesto on the joys of packing lightlearned the best way to pack a kaftan, and read about the importance of traveling with versatile clothing.

Now that Summer's here and many of us have trips planned for the near future, I think it's time to introduce you to the tools that I use to help minimize my luggage and in turn, make traveling much, much easier.


No one has paid me for any of these glowing recommendations. Just over here building up karma. Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

1. Stay Organized with Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are in most travel bloggers' arsenals, and for good reason. They create structure, so you can better utilize the layout of the inside of your suitcase or travel backpack. 

Packing cubes work because they keep things organized. If I've learned anything from the hours of tiny house shows I watch, it's that organization helps maximize small spaces. You can vary the uses of each cube like you do dresser drawers. For example, you can use a small cube for underwear and socks. Designate another small cube for bathing suits, leggings, and a kaftan. Stack those two cubes on top of a large cube containing your shirts, shorts, and dresses; and then throw in an empty large cube to stash your dirty clothes. Voila! You're ready to go, you'll be organized when you get to where you're going, and re-packing for your return will be easier too.

Some packing cubes also provide compression for your clothing, letting you eke out just a little bit more space in your bag. These are my favorite packing cubes for the quality + price.

Dramatic Rendering

A dramatic rendering of a suitcase without packing cubes.

With packing cubes

And with packing cubes! Right image has an extra empty packing cube on top of the small cubes (for dirty clothes) and a bulky romper on top of the big packing cube (it actually fit in the packing cube but this looked nicer).The suitcase isn't even 2/3rds full!

2. Beyond Travel-Size: Get Creative with Toiletries 

Even if you're great at narrowing down your travel outfits, addressing your toiletries can be another beast altogether. I used to find myself in the shoes of that person who gets called out at the airport for not following the "quart-size bag" rule. On one occasion when I was going through security, Jude Law right walked right by me. Of course, I was completely oblivious to this because I was busy watching the (very nice) security agent throw out my excess liquids. I've never overpacked my toiletries again, and I'm making it my mission to ensure you don't miss your Jude Law moment too.

Cosmetics vs. Jude Law

What would you rather have? More cosmetics than you'll ever need on a weekend trip or a chance to talk to Jude Law and get a pic of him for your mom? (My mom's still mad at me for this.)

Cosmetic Image: Liubov Ilchuk on Unsplash | Jude Law Image: POPSUGAR

There are enough travel toiletry tips to fill up pages and pages of blogs. Here are some quick hits:

  • Travel-size toiletries usually max out the 3.4oz limit. Look for smaller containers (cleaned and leak-proof!) that you can use for your lesser used but necessary toiletries. For example, my wrinkle cream and primer are in a contact case and a teeny sample-size vial from my dermatologist holds a week's worth of toner. 
  • Pack toiletries that do double-duty. You don't need mascara and an eyelash curler if you have a lash-curling mascara! Are you #blessed and you can get away with a tinted moisturizer (with SPF) instead of packing a moisturizer and foundation? Congrats and don't bring two things when one will do!
  • Share. Obviously don't make your travel buddy carry all of the toiletries, and don't share anything that would be unhygienic. But you and your S.O. could probably use the same body wash for one weekend. You could bring the dry shampoo and your BFF can bring the Advil. 

3. Laundry Sheets 

My friend who has been traveling the world for an entire YEAR gave me this advice. If you're going to be traveling for longer than a week, pack for a week and do laundry. 

This advice scared me. So many new anxieties came rushing in! Did my AirBnB have laundry? Would I be saving on a carry-on bag but then spending on hotel laundering services? Would I need to take hours out of my vacation to go to a laundromat? 

I didn't like the answers to those questions, but then I discovered laundry sheets! They pack flat, suds up with water, and because they're solid, they don't have to be shoved into your liquids bag or removed from your luggage to go through airport security! 

Even if you only wash your socks and leggings with these laundry sheets, that will still save space!

Laundry Sheets

Laundry sheets. Socks and rocks for scale. LOL. 

While we're on the topic of laundry, I've read that some people will also pack a travel clothesline. I've never needed one, but consider it, especially if you're traveling in humid regions where you'll want to maximize airflow around your laundered clothes.

Advanced tip: Pack some clothes that dry quickly, like athletic leggings and...  

Bonus: Quick-Drying Underwear

Okay, this is a bit personal, so I made it a bonus. However, this is my best travel tip. Even my most well-traveled friends didn't know about this trick (and they've thanked me for telling them about it)! 

People overpack underwear because being caught without a fresh pair would be awful, and underwear is not exactly something you can borrow from your friend or the hotel.

Get a few pairs of quick-drying underwear and never over-pack underwear (or be caught without a fresh pair) ever again! You can wash them in the sink or tub with the laundry sheets mentioned above and hang them up to dry. They'll be dry by morning and you can be on your way!

Personally, I like Under Armour quick-drying underwear. But there are plenty of other brands that travel bloggers recommend.

Advanced tip: Throw a pair in your personal item bag. Even if the airline makes you check your carry-on and then has the audacity to lose it, you've still got two pairs of underwear that you can wash, dry, and alternate until your luggage is found! You're unstoppable!

Now you have the tools you need to pack for your next adventure, without breaking your back or the bank!

Just make sure you have your #1 summertime travel essential: your kaftan!

Do you use any other tools to help you pack light? Do you think we're gross for talking about underwear? Would you never wash your socks in the sink? Tell us in the comments!

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