Best Travel Tips for Packing Light and Tight

posted in: Travel, Travel Tips | 5

Updated May 2018

We’ve all been there: staring down at all the things we laid out for a trip and trying to figure out how in the world we are going to get it all to fit in our bag. Our tips for packing light work for packing both suitcases and backpacks.

Due to baggage limitations and for ease of getting around on public transportation, we only bring one small carry on each – our backpacks – when we fly. And when we are on the road, since we have limited space van camping, we are also concerned with packing as light as possible.

Thriftiness is part of our DNA but now that we are traveling more, we are especially concerned with saving money and the travel tips below are some of the ways we do that.

Write a List

Never underestimate the power of a good checklist. You won’t forget anything and it is helpful for not overpacking.

Stay organized and think about what you really need. Before we began focusing on packing light, we would unpack from a trip and realize half of things we brought never came out of the suitcase.

Reuse Travel Size Bottles

We both have reusable shampoo and conditioner bottles, but for years I would buy travel size toothpaste and contact solution. Then one day, we realized we could snap off the top (with a little effort) of the solution and refill it.

We also found out we could squeeze a larger tube of toothpaste into our travel size tube. And guess what? It works and it’s not that hard to do!

Utilize Contact Lens Cases

These handy items cut down on many unnecessary bottles of product. I now carry two extra with me that I use for my face lotion, sun screen, makeup concealer, and flyaway hair crème. Men can benefit too.

Contact lens cases can use it for hair product, sunscreen or face lotion. Even though the lens case is small, it provides an ideal space for travel size product. It works perfect even for longer trips.


Contact Lens Travel Tip

Refillable Perfume Dispenser

Obviously this is unnecessary for a hiking or adventure trip, but on a weekend city escape, it is perfect. Travel size perfume can be pricey and usually comes in a glass bottle. Don’t buy it anymore, just refill this refillable spray bottle.

Wear your Heaviest Clothes on Your Travel Days

Bringing hiking boots and a heavy sweatshirt? Wear them the days you travel so they are not packed in your luggage.

Pick a Color Scheme for your Trip

This may sound odd at first, but you’ll notice if you pick a few colors you can mix and match outfits easily.

Makeshift Sunglasses Case

I don’t know about you, but we don’t buy expensive sunglasses that come with a fancy case. They come in all shapes and sizes anyway so the one case I do have from years ago doesn’t work with all of my glasses.

We reuse a container that our flavored water packets come in. It fits perfectly on the side of our backpack as well.

Travel Tips Case in Backpack

Ladies, Pack a Scarf

Scarves are so versatile. Use it as a shawl, pillow, blanket or something to spice up an outfit. You can even buy an infinity scarf that has a hidden compartment for your passport!

Use Packing Cubes and/or Roll your Clothes

Packing cubes are great to keep your belongings organized and rolling really does save space. Don’t forget to throw in a dryer sheet to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

Utilize your Socks

If you have a glass bottle of some sort or something needing protection, stuff your socks with it as a protective layer. Then for another protective layer, place it inside a shoe your packing.

Stuff your Shoes

Shove your underwear, bras, and socks in shoes to save space.

Travel Tips Suitcase

Bring a Reusable Collapsible Water Bottle

As long as it is empty, you can bring a water bottle or pouch through airport security. Save money your whole trip by refilling a reusable collapsible water bottle everywhere you go. We like the collapsible ones so we can pack them in our bags if need be.

Bring Earplugs on Every Trip

Baby crying on the plane? Spouse that snores? Trying to catch a cat nap on the train? Sleeping in a hostel? Earplugs are so small and light yet work for so many different situations.

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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

5 Responses

  1. Cheryl

    Hi, am very curious about how you fill a travel size toothpaste, ‘we could squeeze a larger tube of toothpaste into our travel size tube’. please explain, thank you.

    • Dang Travelers

      We just push the two toothpaste nozzles together (travel size and regular) and squeeze the regular/home toothpaste and it fills up the travel size one.

  2. Cheryl

    Thank you; I will concentrate on my powers of not squeezing it out over the edges and give this a try!

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