I have now been traveling for 6 months and the word packing sends a bit of shivers down my spine. I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys packing and few people who have never faced the issue of things just not fitting in. But when you are embarking on a journey, you want to travel light and save space for things that matter – souvenirs! So here are some tips on how you can maximize your suitcase or backpack.

1 – Roll up your clothes

If you are not doing this already, then rolling up your clothes should be the absolute first item on your savvy packer list. There must be a scientific explanation to it, which I don’t really know, but it works. Rather than folding your clothes, roll them tightly and place them into your suitcase. This includes pants, shirts, t-shirts, and even underwear. The only items that you wouldn’t really roll up are bulky sweaters or coats. But, when something is too bulky to roll up, it’s a good moment to reflect whether you really need to bring it or not!

someone rolling up clothes

2 – Use clothes that take up less space

To my previous point, try to travel with clothes that are not bulky. In fact, if you are only starting to travel, it’s a good idea to slowly invest in items that take up less space. For example, many companies carry great down coats that can be rolled up into a small bag but keep you nice and warm. Same goes for any sweaters, scarfs and pants – clothing technology does come in handy! Skip wool, jeans and leather, as they tend to take up more space.

3 – Pick your shoes wisely

Shoes are one of the killers when it comes to luggage space. Not only do the take up a lot of room, they are also really heavy. While you should always bring at least 2 pairs of shoes on your trip, pick them wisely. Make sure they are lightweight and adaptable to many different types of weather. It’s also a good idea to travel in your biggest pair of shoes and pack the rest. That said, do not forego comfort for space. You will hate your space-saving self when your feet are hurting at the end of a long day.

4 – Pack socks inside shoes

To at least get a little bit of value out of all the space that those shoes are taking up, pack socks inside them. Other items can be underwear (if your shoes are clean), or small items such as jewelry, perfume, etc.

Someone packing socks inside shoes to save up space

5 – Use travel size packs for hygiene products

Unless you bathe in cream and have long hair to your waist, you probably don’t need a whole bottle of cream or shampoo with you on your trip. Firstly, check if your hotel offers toiletries, maybe you don’t even need to bring some of the basics with you. If not, or you need specific items, then bring travel size items. A great option is to purchase a travel size kit and pour some of your regular hygiene products in the bottles. Not only will it save space, it will also be allowed to go through airport customs.

Hygiene products in a travel size bag

6 – Book accommodations with laundry options

When reserving a place to stay, check whether your hostel or AirBnB has a washing machine that you can use. If they do, it means you can bring the bare minimum and wash your clothes regularly. To be fair, this is only an issue in certain places, like Europe or North America. If you are traveling to South East Asia or Latin America, you will almost always find cheap laundry services within a block of your accommodation.

7 – Wear any bulky items

Sometimes, you just can’t avoid bringing something bulky. For example, how can you go on a winter trip without boots and a coat? Rather than packing these, wear them! You can take the boots of on the plane and even bring a pair of flip flops for the long flight. The coat will be a great pillow for overnight flights or buses, so you’ll get some extra use out of it.

8 – Limit your suitcase size

One of the best ways to prevent yourself from bringing too much on a trip is to limit how much you can bring. Rather than taking the large suitcase, go for a medium one. Whatever fits, comes with you! Even better, bring a backpack. That way any extra items you pack, you will need to carry – a great way to discourage yourself from bringing too much.

9 – Use packing cubes

While this might sound like something your grandma would tell you to do, packing cubes are amazing. If you are traveling to a few different countries, events or climates – they are the way to go. For example, if you need clothes for the beach and for a conference, then you can pack away your beach stuff in one of the cubes. This way you won’t have to search through all the beach clothes when looking for that blazer. They are also great for dirty clothes and avoiding tons of plastic bags plaguing your suitcase.

before ans after using compression cubes

10 – Be reasonable about what you bring

My final word of advice is to just evaluate what you really need on your trip. Always opt for function over fashion. You can put a few filters on your photos to look better, but you won’t be able to replace the days that you go a cold because you didn’t bring a thermal sweater with you. One tip to make your pictures look amazing even with the most plain and functional clothes – wear bright colors! It’s a trick I’ve learnt some time ago – you will still stand out, but won’t need to bring 10 dressed to do it.