Traveling has been a big part of my life, ever since I can remember. Just to visit family, it is at least a three-hour plane ride. So in my almost thirty years of traveling, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to packing a suitcase and making my trips easier and easier over the years. (post contains affiliate links, see disclosure)
1. write it down + make a packing checklist
What are your plans? Fancy dinners? Going Hiking? Swimming? You’ll need to know so you can pack accordingly. This tip might seem obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t pack a swimsuit only to end up at a hotel wishing I could go swimming or at the lake wishing I could dive in! CLICK HERE to download your FREE checklist!
2. look at the weather
Another tip that seems obvious but it is true. I’ll never forget going to my sister’s in Kansas City for Easter in April and it snowed. It freaking snowed! I completely forgot to look at the weather and packed for a California April instead.
3. bring just a carry-on and a personal item
Invest in good luggage and try to pack light. For the longest time I lugged around a duffle bag without wheels and it killed my shoulder. Then, I upgraded to a carry on with only back wheels. It became another pain through airports when it wouldn’t move with me at any angle – especially going up and down escalators and into small spaces. I finally got a four-wheeled bag and it’s been the best thing ever. Shop my travel favorites here!
4. use packing cubes
I admit, I was skeptical at first and thought I had packing down without any of these trendy packing cubes. But, GAME CHANGER! I use one for jeans and pants, one for t-shirts and tops, and another for pajamas. Then during my trip, I use one for dirty clothes. They keep everything so much more organized!
5. bring just the basics
Create multiple outfits, think capsule wardrobe, with just a few items. I used to bring an entire outfit for each day of the trip, only to discover I’d wear my favorite jeans twice or wear the same t-shirt to bed. Save room and see what items can be multi-purpose.
6. travel size necessities
I love my travel size blow dryer, straightener, and my new favorite – a heat resistant travel pouch. No more waiting for my hot straightener to cool down before I can shove it in my suitcase! I also use re-usable travel bottles, so that I can bring my favorite shampoo and conditioner instead of being stuck with the travel size brands and options. Plus, no need to buy anything extra!
7. pack your toiletries + make-up the morning of
Packing the morning of helps to ensure I’ve got everything and I’m double checking, especially my make-up! As soon as each make-up step is done, toss it in your make up bag so you don’t forget anything important – like eyeliner or lip gloss.
8. EASY ACCESS CARRY ON
When you have to pull out your toiletries, laptop, take off your shoes, jacket, jewelry, belt, etc when going through security, it can get overwhelming and stressful. Make it easy with a front zip carry-on and store your toiletries there – easy to take out and put back in!
8. wear comfy slip-on shoes
These slip-ons are my new favs! I hate having to remove my shoes and put them back on when hundreds of people are waiting for me to hurry up. Being able to put my shoes back on quickly keeps me stress-free!
9. a light cardigan
I bring a light cardigan no matter what time of the year because I always get cold on the plane and in the airport. And I can’t count how many times I’ve been standing on the jet bridge and felt a cold breeze!
10. neck pillow
A must for long flights, early morning flights, and red eyes! It never fails, I always fall asleep and my neck pillow is the perfect barrier between my head and the window.
11. download a Netflix movie, audiobooks, podcasts, etc.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have an awesome feature that allows you to download a TV show or movie so that no wifi or cellular service is required. I’ve learned to also do this with my audiobooks and podcasts, just in case I lose service and can’t download the next episode.
12. battery charger and wireless headphones
Never leave home without them! You know when you see all those people in the airports crowded around one outlet or charging station? That doesn’t have to be you. Joe and I use these portable chargers all the time and they work great. Over the years, I’ve learned wireless earbud headphones are much easier. I listen to an audiobook or podcast while on the plane and while walking through the airport, so being wire-free makes it SO MUCH EASIER when pulling suitcases around and not worrying about yanking a cord out of my ear!
13. BRING A water tumbler
I first started noticing this trend in the San Francisco airport. There are water fill stations everywhere and I thought it was GENIUS. No more having to buy an $8 bottle of water once I get through security, I just fill up my favorite tumbler!
14. take your vitamin C
…and bring your hand sanitizer! So many people, so many germs. I’m not a germaphobe by any means, but I have caught quite a few colds from being on a plane with a fellow sick passenger. Now, I take my vitamin C or a dose of Airborne.
15. advise your bank you are traveling
I’ve forgotten to do this many times, only to discover my debit card being declined when I’m trying to order my favorite nachos. It’s easy to advise your bank nowadays, and can be done on most online banking apps! Don’t forget!