Whether you’re flying across the country for a backpacking trip, or planning a scenic drive to a nearby state, effectively packing is essential to saving both time and money. There a several foolproof ways to condense the clutter and ensure an effortless trip by traveling light. Use these tips before packing next time to enjoy a more organized adventure free of checked bags and lost luggage.

Bring only essential toiletries

Most likely, it’s not absolutely necessary to tote that primer, concealer, bronzer, moisturizer, lip liner, and eyebrow pen. Especially if your trip involves a lot of outdoor activities, stick to the bare minimums such as face wash, dry shampoo, chapstick, deodorant, and hand sanitizer. Makeup essentials like mascara and liquid eyeliner usually fit easily with a quick game of Tetris. Remember, if you’re staying in a hotel, they’ll almost always have whatever you need.

toiletries hotel

Roll your clothes

You’d be amazed how much fits in a carry-on bag with a little maneuvering. Tightly rolling or folding clothes optimizes space. If you’re curious, there’s a whole culture of light packers on Youtube that can tutor you on the easiest ways to condense enough for even a long-term backpacking trip.

Wear bulkiest shoes on the way

Obviously, wearing your Danner’s hiking boots on the plane may not be the most comfortable experience given the ever-shrinking legroom in economy seating, but packing your flats or flip flops will free up enough room to make it worth the trouble.

boots airport

Layer clothes

Wearing your biggest sweater over a tank and t-shirt during transit can free up a lot of space and come in handy when the plane is set at 55 degrees during the journey. This works with socks and leggings too.

waiting at airport tablet

Freshen and reuse clothes

Packing only one or two pairs of pants can be intimidating unless you bring a travel-size container of laundry detergent in case of emergency. Usually, though, two pairs of jeans will be sufficient for a short-term trip. Some even argue that the less often you wash your jeans, the better they’ll fit.

ripped jeans sneakers

Treat purses and bags like Russian nesting dolls

Most planes allow you one carry-on bag and a personal item such as a purse, but if you want variety, throw a few wallet-sized purses in your carry-on or larger purse.


Invest in a sturdy backpack

You probably don’t want to grievously cradle your backpack like an infant through a foreign airport after the zipper busts, spilling souvenirs everywhere. Invest in a reliable daypack or backpack that’ll serve you once you get to your destination too, preferably one with a drawstring.

woman airport backpack

Pack solid colors

Packing universal colors, like navy and black, limits how many outfits you need to bring. Pack durable tops that’ll go with anything, including jewelry.

black and white outfit

Limit technology wherever possible

If you’re bringing a DSLR camera, limit yourself to one battery, charger, and essential lenses. Use your smartphone for things like clocks, compasses, and weather maps. Make sure to bring a portable charger for this reason.


Take advantage of pockets

Don’t be afraid to stuff that pair of socks in a side pocket. It might seem counterintuitive to the order of things, but utilizing space efficiently sometimes means getting creative.

Use Spacemaker bags

For longer trips, using vacuum storage bags to pack bulky sweaters and jackets frees up significant space for other necessities.
suitcases airport