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20 Useful Space-Saving Packing Hacks for Travel

Looking for travel packing tips and tricks? Whether you are attempting to pack light or are simply trying to get everything you need to fit, these space-saving packing hacks are essential for you to know.

After all, it’s imperative that we make the most of whatever size suitcase we have so that our belongings are secure. There’s nothing worse than leaky shampoo or finding your items have shifted so that you can find what you need. 

My travel packing hacks will help you save space in your suitcase while showing you the best way to pack a suitcase to prevent these common blunders.

For those of you interested in packing light and traveling with just a carry-on, learning ways to optimize your suitcase’s space is a must. You can also take it one step further and learn about how to travel like a minimalist.

Without further ado, let’s get into these super useful travel packing hacks so that you can be well on your way to making the most out of your suitcase.

20 Useful Space-Saving Packing Hacks for Travel

These 20 extremely helpful space-saving packing hacks will save you so much space when you are traveling, especially if you follow most of these suggestions. 😉

1. Choose the right suitcase.

The best suitcase is one that is easily organized and lightweight. I highly recommend a clamshell suitcase with a hard exterior if you are good with organization. A clamshell suitcase will open up flat, making it easier for you to see everything you have when you need to find your belongings.

The hard exterior will help protect your stuff, as well as keep your suitcase slim and more manageable while traveling. For instance, you don’t want to overstuff your carry-on so much that it doesn’t nicely fit in the airplane’s overhead compartment.

A suitcase with a hard case is difficult to overpack!

woman packing clamshell suitcase

2. Store jewelry in a pill organizer.

To keep amounts to a minimum and keep items from floating around in your bag, use a pill organizer for jewelry and other small items. A pill organizer can be used to effectively store OTC medication, earrings, and rings.

Simply use one compartment for each item (including any dangly earrings that may get tangled!)

pill organizer

3. Thread necklaces through a straw.

The best way I’ve found to keep necklaces and bracelets from getting tangled en route is to thread them through a necklace.

Simply thread one end of the necklace through the straw then close the clasp so that it stays put. If the straw is too long, just cut the straw to fit the size of the necklace or bracelet.

These can then be stored inside a small cosmetics bag or a hard case. (See the next tip!)

Another effective way to store all of your jewelry in one place is to seal everything between two pieces of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap keeps jewelry from becoming tangled, and it lays nice and flat on top of your clothing.

4. Use a hard glasses case for small items.

Like I just mentioned, you can use a hard glasses (or sunglasses) case to store small items such as jewelry. I also like the idea of using a hard case like this for keeping charging cables, adapters, and earbuds for your devices all in one place.

You can find other empty containers to contain items as well such as using a Tic Tac container to store bobby pins. 

glasses in glasses case

5. Cover the bottom of shoes with a shower cap.

Not only does covering your shoes with a shower cap help keep your suitcase and clothes clean, but it also saves you space. With your shoes properly covered, you can more easily place them in the best spot without worrying about getting your clothes dirty.

The best place for your shoes is at the bottom of your suitcase (when it is standing up). That way, the heavy weight of your shoes isn’t pushing down on clothes and wrinkling them.

6. Pack only essential toiletries and cosmetics.

Of course, the most obvious way to save space in your suitcase is to pack less. One way to pack less is to focus on only packing your essential toiletries.

Forget about “what-if” toiletries and cosmetics. When you’re on vacation, you will want the least amount of hassle when it comes to getting ready anyway!

7. Use travel-sized bottles for everything.

Don’t pack the full-size bottle for any of your toiletries when there are travel-sized bottles available. You aren’t going to use a huge amount of anything while on your trip, and if you are packing a carry-on only, travel-sized liquids is a requirement.

But, buying tiny bottles of all your toiletry essentials isn’t exactly cost-effective. Save yourself some money by buying empty travel-sized containers that you can fill with any of your toiletries at home.

travel size beauty product and toiletry bottles

8. Purchase multipurpose products.

There are some great versatile products out there that can help you save suitcase space and simplify your beauty routine.

A good BB cream can take the place of foundation, moisturizer, and sunscreen. So, packing this one item instead of all the others saves you a good amount of space. (And this is incredibly valuable space if you are only bringing a carry-on and are limited to one 1-qt bag of liquids!)

Instead of bringing lip gloss, blush and eyeshadow, pack a product that can work as all three. This multi-purpose makeup stick is creamy and blends well.

9. Pack solid forms of liquid products.

To save you even more room in your “liquids bag”, consider bringing a solid form of your products. Think dry shampoo (I love this dry shampoo!), bar soap, and mineral foundation.

Even if you need to do laundry on your trip, you can bring laundry bar soap instead of liquid laundry detergent. One bar goes a long way!

10. Buy toiletries when you get to your destination.

Depending on where you’re going, sometimes it just makes sense to buy products when you get there. If you are picky about which products you use this may not be for you, but otherwise, it can be fun to shop like the locals. 😊

There is likely a place nearby for you to purchase what you need, so the question is usually about affordability. Make sure that you won’t be paying “tourist prices” that make any convenience not that worth it.

11. Plan on doing laundry.

If you plan on doing laundry while you are there, you can pack a lot less clothing. If you are traveling for 10 days or more, I recommend doing laundry at least once so that you can still stick to one suitcase.

Oftentimes, there will be laundry facilities wherever you stay or nearby. But you can always do laundry in your hotel room sink or bathtub in a pinch!

12. Stuff dryer sheets in your suitcase.

When you pack fewer clothes, you will likely plan on re-wearing certain items. A travel hack for keeping your clothing and suitcase smelling fresh is to stuff a few dryer sheets between clothes!

Don’t forget to pack a baggie of fresh dryer sheets to replenish the old ones, especially if your trip is a long one.

13. Bring your most versatile clothes.

When you’re trying to save space in your suitcase, it is not the time to bring clothes that don’t mix and match well. It is also not the time to bring new clothing pieces that you are unsure of how well they will look or fit.

Creating a small travel wardrobe that goes a long way is the single most important of the space-saving packing hacks. Pack light by bringing versatile clothing that can be worn with MANY of the other items you packed.

Pack mostly neutral colors. Make use of accessories and a few pops of color to add interest. Think of ways to dress an item up or down to get the most use out of it.

You can even plan your outfits ahead of time in case you are worried if you will have enough clothes packed!

14. Pack lightweight clothing.

Thin clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily will be your best friend. Think cotton, wool, and knits, as these aren’t as easily wrinkled. You should also bring clothing that can be laundered easily!

Take advantage of the yoga pants and athleisure styles of today as these pieces are often perfect for keeping your suitcase light and not overstuffed.

15. Wear your bulkiest items to the airport.

Once you’ve selected your travel wardrobe pieces, choose what you will wear to the airport from your bulkiest clothing. This will save you space AND make it so your bag isn’t as heavy.

Wear your bulkiest footwear to the airport. If you are bringing a jacket or blazer, wear that to the airport too. Save the flip flops and tank tops for your suitcase.

Wear layers to the airport, as you never know if you will get hot or cold on the plane. That way, you can easily take off layers if you get too warm. 😉

16. Roll your clothes.

When it comes to tops and bottoms, rolling them is the best way to save space. Roll each item tightly, then layer the bottom of the suitcase with your rolled-up clothing. 

Rolling your clothes also makes it easier to see all of your clothing at a glance rather than having them all folded and stacked on top of each other.

However, any bulky items such as jackets or sweaters should be folded and placed on top of your rolled clothes.

17. Store socks inside of shoes.

Use the inside of any packed shoes to store your socks. This keeps shoes and socks together (where they belong), plus you save space in your suitcase.

I’ve seen storing socks in shoes on many lists of space-saving packing hacks. Maybe you have too?

18. Stack and fold your bras.

First, lay a bra out flat. Then, place a second bra on top. Finally, fold the bras in half, tucking straps inside the cup.

For molded cups, nest underwear inside the cups to save space and help support your bras so they don’t lose their shape while traveling.

19. Tightly fold your underwear and socks.

And speaking of underwear, you’ll want to tightly fold them and then use them to fill any gaps inside your suitcase. If there aren’t any gaps, per se, they will be folded tightly enough to stuff between other items in your bag.

Do the same with socks (if they aren’t already in your shoes) or any other small accessories such as neckties.

20. Get organized.

Proper organization should save you space in your suitcase. I like the idea of packing cubes because they not only organize your belongings but also further restrict you. Restriction is good when trying to stick to a certain size bag (or a certain number of bags). Use a packing list to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

For toiletries, I recommend either a hanging toiletry bag that you can lay across the top of all your rolled-up clothes. Bonus: it will be convenient to simply take this one hanging bag out of your suitcase and hang it up for easy access to everything you need.

If you don’t have a hanging toiletry bag, several small cosmetic bags will do the trick. You can either lay them across the top of your clothes in one layer or slide them between the items in your suitcase.

Finally, some people swear by compression travel bags that suck the air out of your clothes like a vacuum sealer. I would think that they would wrinkle your clothes, so use at your own risk! Compression bags would be great for bulky pieces that don’t wrinkle like, say, a sweater or sweatpants.

Get the Most Out of These Travel Packing Hacks

Each of these travel hacks will save you space in your suitcase, but obviously, the real space-saving comes in if you use a combination of these travel packing tips and tricks.

The biggest bang for your buck is packing only essential travel-size toiletries and packing fewer clothes by choosing versatile pieces. If you want to know more about a smaller, versatile wardrobe, start with this post on creating a capsule wardrobe.

If you are trying to limit yourself to just a carry-on, make sure you check out my last post on packing a carry-on for 2 weeks which includes a free packing list! And finally, don’t miss my post about creating a travel wardrobe.

I know that these space-saving packing hacks will save you a ton of space in your suitcase for your next trip or vacation. Use a number of these travel packing hacks to make the most out of your suitcase, packing lighter and better than ever before.

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4 Comments

  1. These are great tips, and so timely. We are going on a trip this weekend and we always battle with lost jewelry and snagged necklaces. Even though we go by car, these are still helpful tips! 🙂

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