16 Packing Hacks That Will Change How You Travel

Don’t leave home without these ingenious hacks for packing perfectly for every trip.

When we invited you, our readers, to reveal your best packing tips, we were flooded with umpteen ingenious hacks for packing well. Here are 16 of our favorite pieces of reader-submitted packing advice.

Bring a Backpack

“Backpack suitcase is where it’s at for traveling light! If you like to streamline and skip the baggage claim like me, it is a great way to go. Much lighter and easier to manage. I can even hang it on a bathroom stall hook while I go and not have to worry about it being stolen!” —Janet

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Make Your Own Packing Cubes

“Use 2.5-gallon resealable bags for packing. Use one bag for same-type clothes or for each day’s outfit. Before completely sealing, sit on bag to release all excess air; it’s a fraction of the expense of ‘official’ packing bags.” —Christina

Back Up Your Prescriptions

“When traveling outside of the country, keep an essential set of all prescription drugs in a second purse or carry-on in case one is lost or misplaced.” —Donnalyn

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Leverage Your Partner’s Bag

“Add an outfit of your own to your travel partner’s bag in the event your luggage is lost or delayed.” —Kimberly

Pack a Smart Snack

“Always keep some sort of lightweight, dry foodstuff in your bag. Instant oatmeal can come to one’s rescue in a hotel room with the addition of hot water from the coffee maker. Nuts and dried fruits are handy too.” —Ella

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Plan Ahead

“I start assembling ‘potential’ clothes/shoes/accessories about three weeks before a trip. Put them in a spare-room closet or section of a portion of your closet. When it comes time to do the final pack, you already have everything in one place. You can then pick what you want to take easily.” —Mary

Make Your Own Padded Hanger

“This is actually an UNpacking tip. If you have something like a blouse or sweater that is delicate fabric but needs to be hung, take a hand towel, fold it in thirds lengthwise, and then drape it back to front over a hanger (like a shawl). Presto! Instant padded hanger.” —Margo

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Simplify the Kids’ Clothes

“Put children’s daily outfits together and pack each in a Ziploc bag so all they have to do is grab a bagged outfit each day to get ready.” —Liz

Pack Door Decor

“When I go on a cruise, where all the rooms in the hallways look exactly alike, I attach a bow or balloon to my room door to find it easily. I just look right and left when I exit the lobby and see the colorful decoration down the hallway.” —Patricia

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Bring Bling

“Bring one small piece of inexpensive jewelry or a scarf to dress up a travel outfit for a nice dinner instead of bringing an extra outfit you may only wear for a few hours.” —Jaeann

Remember to Pack Earth-Friendly Bags

“Be sure to pack a cloth bag for any kind of shopping in Hawaii; plastic bags are banned.” —Paula

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Pack a Poncho

“Rain ponchos solve the umbrella problem. They keep me drier than umbrellas. I buy them at the dollar store. Two in a pack! Weighs nothing and takes no room. It dries in the hotel room, but doesn’t fold up well after opened, so I leave it behind when packing to go home. The quality is disposable quality, anyway. I love them for travel.” —Lorraine

Plan (and Photograph) Your Outfits

“I take pictures with my cell phone of the clothes combinations before I leave on a trip.” —Sulma

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Pack Twice

“First pack everything you think you can’t live without, then remove 50–75 percent of everything you thought you couldn’t live without (with the possible exception of underwear).” —Rhonda

Use a Glasses Case for Jewelry

“Use an eyeglass hard case to pack jewelry. Cases are small and easy to pack and do a good job of protecting jewelry. It’s also easy to find the jewelry you’re looking for.” —Betty

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Simplify Your Toiletries

“When my husband and I travel we like to go from region to region. So we stay at multiple hotels for one trip. To save packing and unpacking time and room, I bring a flat plastic folded bag (mine came with my luggage) that has multiple compartments and hangs up. I pack it with ‘samples’ of toiletries, makeup, I even ask my stylist for sample-size shampoo, hairspray, conditioner. Then when we arrive I simply hang it in the bathroom. Voila. When we depart I simple fold it right back into my suitcase.” —Susan

Traveling? Consider Bringing These:

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2015. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Caroline Costello

Caroline Costello's travel accomplishments include surviving a 2 a.m. whitewater rafting excursion in the Canadian wilderness, successfully biking from Dusseldorf to Cologne without a map, and gaining access to a covert pizza speakeasy in New Orleans.

Caroline is an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Her work has appeared on USA Today, the Boston Globe,,, ABC News, TODAY Travel, and, among other publications.

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