38 Travel Experts Share Their Best Packing Hacks for Long Trips

38 Travel Experts Share Their Best Packing Hacks for Long Trips

Mon, Sep 17, 18

Going on a trip soon? Cool. It’s a big world out there, and you’ll have plenty of fun wherever you go.

Are you prepared though?

A journey starts in your preparations, particularly with the items you’ll be packing for the trip. How much can you carry with you? How much should you pack?

Usually, you need to take more stuff with you during long trips. However, that’s not always the case. If you know how to pack efficiently, you can maximize the amount of gear you can bring. To pack efficiently, you need to learn techniques—hacks—that allow you circumvent packing conundrums.

We’ve contacted 38 well-traveled bloggers and asked what their best packing hacks are for long trips. Here are what they’ve shared.

Travel Clothes

My tip for women is to pack at least two wrinkle-free travel dresses, especially those from a company called Leota which I never take a trip without!

These dresses roll up to a small wad but can be unrolled to leave you feeling fabulous and fashionable anywhere in the world.

I’ve hiked up a mountain in them, walked across a city, then gone out to dinner without missing a beat, because the fabric is stretchy and breathable, and the prints hide stains and sweat.

- Lillie Marshall, Around the World

Leave the heels at home! Travel is about exploring and experiencing, not about limping around in painful shoes.

As a travel journalist specializing in boutique travel, I am often profiling high-end hotels and restaurants. The biggest challenge for me when packing for these longer trips are shoes. They take up a lot of space.

My recommendation: two pairs of shoes should be the max.

Ditch the uncomfortable heels and only take two pairs of comfortable shoes that work for day and night.

My go-to lately are Toms shoes by day and Sperry black boots by night.

Look at the rest of your clothes and pick two pairs of shoes that will match everything. Also, toss in a pair of flip-flops just in case. They take up little room and can come in handy!

- Kelley Ferro, Get Lost with Kelley Ferro

If you’re planning a long trip, you don’t need to pack clothes for every single day.

Don’t be afraid of doing a little laundry during your adventure—like the rest of the world does. Rather than pay crazy hotel laundry prices, head to a coin laundromat or local laundry service. It’s cheap, it doesn’t take that long, and it will help you save a lot of space in your bags.

For those rare cases where you can’t find a laundry service, wash your clothes yourself in a hotel bathtub or sink and hang them up to dry overnight.

- Matthew Karsten, Expert Vagabond

I’m a big fan of not bringing too much stuff.

I only bring merino wool for shirts, because it doesn’t stink after multiple wears.

Less laundry, more fun.

- Paulina Dao, Little Grunts

My best packing advice for long trips is to prepare for doing the laundry.

I’ll often pack a travel bottle of laundry soap and wash clothes in my bathroom sink. Once everything is washed, I’ll do a rinse and hang everything in my closet to dry.

Using this trick means I can use each outfit twice and I can save space on my bag. I also wear my biggest shoes on the flight and carry my jacket with me to avoid making my pack bulky.

- Kimberly Tate, Stuffed Suitcase

I love rolling my clothes. It provides more room in the suitcase, and my clothes don’t come out as wrinkled.

I try to bring a lot of basic tops and bottoms for long trips that can go together, and I always pack laundry pods, because they are easy to pack and allow me to wash, which means packing less clothes.

- Melissa Garcia, Consumer Queen

When I travel for long trips, I always like to plan my outfits ahead of time. This ensures I’m not packing unnecessary items that will take up valuable space.

Plus, it makes getting ready in the morning a breeze.

Lastly, I always use packing cubes to maximize my suitcase. These allow me to bring a few extra items or save space to bring treasures home.

- Jessica Camerata, My Style Vita

One way we pack light for longer trips is to stick with packing one color scheme of clothing and footwear. I usually pick a black and grey theme, but it could be anything you like.

When you pack with a color scheme, you don’t have to bring as much with you since you can easily mix and match different items and create more outfit combinations with less pieces.

It keeps your bag lighter and gives you more options at the same time!

- Jenna Kvidt, Wander The Map

When packing for a long trip, I would recommend choosing a color scheme so all of your clothing can mix and match.

Find clothes that are on the same color palette of navy/brown or black/gray and then pick two or three pairs of shoes that match. (Be sure one of them is a comfortable pair.)

It also helps to bring a portable clothes line and some laundry pods. This allows for washing clothes as needed, enabling travelers to pack fewer clothes for the journey.

- Kirsten Maxwell, Kids Are A Trip

I routinely travel on long trips that include lots of active experiences. In fact, my last cruise was for 42 days.

Of course, trips of that length require my best travel packing hacks, because they usually involve traveling in several different climates.

My biggest tip: layer clothes that allow you to easily go from warm to cold.

For instance, I might wear a safari shirt and convertible pants on a humid hike in French Polynesia. If I become overheated, I roll up the shirtsleeves and unzip the pants into shorts.

When the ship arrives in Alaska, I’ll add a synthetic base layer that wicks away moisture underneath that same outfit. Topped off with a jacket, a pair of warm socks, gloves, and a hat, my outfit will keep me warm unless the temperatures are extreme.

And my second best travel hack among my other tips? Every piece of clothing that goes into my luggage must do double duty, being versatile enough to be worn as more than one outfit.

- Donna Hull, My Itchy Travel Feet: The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel

This is a popular packing hack, but rolling my clothing really helped me gain more suitcase space.

Just by rolling my clothes rather than folding them, I can normally pack everything I need in a carry-on—even for those longer trips!

- Alicia Tenise

I have found that investing in good travel clothing has made all the difference in my packing.

With clothing that is lightweight, wrinkle-free, and quick-drying, I am able to roll up my pants, shirts, and dresses and easily fit clothes for a week or more in a carry-on.

If I’m going on a longer trip, I can easily wash them out and hang them to dry overnight.

Once you travel enough, you know what works well together while still looking stylish, and you are able to coordinate your outfits to minimize how many shoes you need.

This leaves me more room for all my camera gear!

- Tamara Gruber, We3Travel Family Travel Blog

Travel Essentials

If you’re trying to cut down on space while packing for a long trip, you need to look into shampoo and conditioner bars ASAP.

Not only are the bars better for the environment—why make bottles when it can come in bars?—they take up 1/10th of the space of normal shampoo and conditioner bottles despite lasting longer.

Most importantly: the bars can’t explode in your bag like normal shampoo and conditioner.

Sold yet?

- Alex Reynolds, Lost with Purpose

It’s hard to say what to pack or not to pack for a long trip, as you don’t really know what you need until you get home and find you haven’t used half of what you packed. But here are some good tips.

Don’t pack anything you can easily pick up in your destinations. This includes toiletries, stationery, shoes, and even T-shirts.

With every one that you do bring, go for high quality items—the pants and shoes that can last years instead of weeks. There are shirts that are good for all climate conditions. Search for brands like Craghoppers and Timberland.

Keep your electronics to a minimum—laptop, phone, powerpack, etc. Current phones are sufficient for most photos nowadays, and also replace your flashlight, maps, MP3 player, GPS navigator, etc. To sum it up, it's better to underpack than to overpack.

- Skye Class, Skye Travels

I like to pack a small go-bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, face mask, lip balm, and lotion for a long flight.

I like taking melatonin gummies right when I get seated so I can sleep through long overseas flights.

- Jane Ko, A Taste of Koko

During long trips, it’s important to hydrate—internally and externally! Drink plenty of water and moisturize everything.

I always pack a travel-sized face moisturizer, hand moisturizer, and body butter, because my skin gets so dry during long flights!

- Dana Peller, Pellerini: A Modern Mom’s Point of View

Material Advice

My best travel packing hack for long trips is to use packing cubes!

They will become your best friend. Not only do they make packing a thousand times easier, but they also keep your backpack or suitcase organized.

They take the work out of packing and unpacking, because you can just grab them from your bag and unzip them to look for what you need instead of rifling through your belongings and making a mess!

- Taylor Fuller, Travel Colorfully

I like to pack a reusable grocery bag that rolls up into a tiny pouch, which I then stick inside a packed shoe.

The bag is great for carrying the items you need on your vacation, whether if it’s a short day trek or a trip to the beach. Most of all, I use it as a laundry bag to separate the dirty clothes from the clean.

It keeps your luggage more organized throughout your stay, so you can easily access available outfits and won’t need to rummage through dirty items to find what you need.

It also makes things that much simpler when you return home.

- Tara Settembre, When Tara Met Blog

Cut corners in anything except for good quality luggage and walking shoes. You don't wanna roam with a damaged luggage and broken shoes.

For packing, I always use cubes. For long-term travel, I focus on giving more space for my photography equipment than things I can cheaply buy anywhere, like clothes and food.

If I am traveling for three months, I only pack for ten days, and I keep washing my clothes whenever possible.

Also, I recommend you carry a multipurpose lightweight jacket like Kosha travel wear.

- Archana Singh, Travel | See | Write

Traveling, especially on long trips, is so much easier when there’s a place for everything and when everything is in its place. I accomplish this with packing cubes.

One holds my socks and underwear, another for my shoes, a third for T-shirts, and yet another keeps blouses from getting wrinkled.

I even have one large plastic bag, which can be compressed to remove all the air, for sweaters.

All of these not only keep things in order, they maximize the space in my suitcase.

Packing cubes changed my life, and I wouldn’t travel without them.

- Barbara Ann Weibel, Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

When I am traveling, I like to take the smallest luggage possible. We once went to Europe (five different countries) for three weeks with only a carry-on.

Now this was no small feat as I am a fashion blogger and love to take photos for my blogging content in a variety of outfits!

How did we manage? We bought reusable vacuum storage bags that you can do by hand! This took out all the air and packed tightly our clothing to create more space in our luggage. A must-have!

- Lauryn “Lauryncakes” Hock

1. Packing cubes:

I held out on the packing cube bandwagon because I wasn’t convinced that organizing my items into little squares would solve my packing problems.

Then on a whim, I bought a few cubes, and suddenly, I was able to fit a lot more into my suitcase. My trip instantly felt more organized.

I now separate my clothes and other items into cubes (i.e., dresses in one, tops in the other) to make it easy and fast to find an outfit. Instead of laying out my entire suitcase on the hotel room floor, I can easily find what I’m looking for, because it’s all pre-arranged in packing cubes!

2. Hanging toiletry bag:

Before getting a hanging toiletry bag, I would grab random plastic bags and toss all my beauty and toiletry items in, trying to make it fit into my suitcase.

Keeping everything in a zip-up bag that I can hang on the back of hotel doors saves space in my suitcase, and it also saves counter space in hotel rooms. I never travel without this item now.

3. Taking a break: After a three-week honeymoon where we road-tripped across five European countries, my husband and I learned the lesson that on long trips, you need to take in some “down days.”

About every three days of a longer trip, it’s necessary to have a slow day—perhaps a day at the hotel spa or by the pool or even just hanging out on the beach.

These help you reset and stay energized, because being in “go go go” mode for weeks at a time causes travel burnout.

Take it from us; we got nasty colds on that trip after pushing ourselves too hard!

- Kara Harms, Whimsy Soul

My best travel packing hack for long trips is to pack gaffer tape.

I previously used duct tape, but it was too sticky and its residue sticks to everything.

Gaffer tape doesn’t leave a trail of glue and can be used for a number of things, from fixing luggage to covering up little annoying lights on air conditioning thermostats or TVs.

- Johnny Jet

My top tip for packing for a long trip is to invest in a good set of compression bags, ones that can seal and compress without any vacuum or pump.

These bags keep your clothes condensed so they take up a lot less room, and surprisingly, they don’t wrinkle your clothing quite as much as you would think.

They’re great for organization as well!

- Grace Silla, Fashion Edible

The best packing hack we always use in our travels is taking along empty tote bags.

They are the Swiss Army knife for a traveler. They take up virtually no space and weight in your luggage and can be used in so many ways.

Whether it is to store essentials for a day trip or an impromptu place to put “overflow” items that just don’t fit in an otherwise overstuffed suitcase, the tote bag is our number one travel hack.

- Cathy and Frank, RoarLoud

For big trips, my biggest travel hack is that I always use packing cubes to save space in my suitcase and I plan out my outfits in advance and put them in the order I'm going to wear them in my cubes!

I'll even pack the jewelry and accessories I plan on wearing with each outfit in the same cube, so that when it comes to unpacking in each hotel, it's easy for me to have everything I need together.

- Christina Vidal, Jetset Christina

General Hacks

My best travel packing hack is to lay out everything you think you need, then cut them in half—that is, anything that can be separated in two—before you put them in your suitcase.

I am the queen of packing light!

- Stephanie Dulgarian, Somewhat Simple

When preparing for a long trip abroad, it’s best to do that before you even purchase the tickets for your trip.

Take a look at your backpack, for example. There are loads of options out there, but you’ll want to choose a pack that has a lot of compartmental storage so that you can keep things both organized and secure.

Personally, I love a backpack that I can access from the top, the bottom, and the front.

It allows me to keep my clean clothes separate from my dirty clothes, and I can quickly access any item I may need while backpacking.

- Ronald Robbins, Active Planet Travels, Clicta Digital

I am all about efficiency. I love to travel with a backpack and a smaller bag.

The smaller one is always packed with my adventure essentials and damageable electronics, like a Macbook.

This means that as soon as I get to a hostel or hotel, I can quickly remove the electronics into a locker or a safe and immediately be ready for adventure.

My system works really well as I always know exactly where my gear is. They are always in the same pockets and same positions.

When you travel, it is easy to lose small items like SD cards, cords, and cables. By always having them in the same spot and not having to repack depending on the adventure, I minimize the risk by being organized 100 percent of the time.

- Jackson Groves, Journey Era

After having my luggage lost completely twice, I never bring more than a carry-on anywhere if I can help it.

My pro tip: pack half the amount of clothes you think you need and twice the amount of cash.

You can’t dress like a local if you don’t hit the markets and snag yourself a souvenir or two, right?

But seriously, always pack the essentials, pieces you can mix and match and layer into multiple looks that you always feel confident in.

- Lauren Monitz, The Down LO

Best travel packing hack: go light as possible.

I also suggest to only bring a carry-on. It is simply not worth the hassle on planes these days.

When packing, lay it all out on your bed, mix and match outfits and shoes, but always put things back in the closet, as people tend to overpack.

When you get to your destination, you will either wear your best outfit more than once or wear something more comfortable. So choose your outfits and shoes carefully.

Also, get a travel pack of 3.4 oz liquids that you use on a regular basis (i.e., shampoo, soap, etc.). Pack them in a toiletry bag and keep them there. That way, you won’t have to go to a store every time a trip comes up.

- Cacinda Maloney, Points and Travel

For longer trips, I like to bring dryer sheets in a zip bag and spread them out throughout the trip. You don’t want smelly travel clothes to stink up the clean ones.

I’m also a big fan of finding a laundromat or a laundry service midway through my trip to wash everything.

This allows me to bring half the clothes I need to pack for the trip.

- Laura Fuentes

Make a packing list. Start by writing down what you packed for your last trip. Each time you take another trip, update the list.

I have sections on my list which are for different types of trips, like summer (sunscreen, sunglasses, beach towel), winter (hat, gloves, scarf), camping (stove, lantern), international (passport, currency converter), or business (tie, sports coat, dress shoes).

I can just quickly skip those sections that aren’t needed.

- Chris Christensen, Amateur Traveler

One easy travel packing hack is to never leave any space empty.

For example, if you’re packing shoes, make sure to stuff those shoes with socks or other items so you’re not wasting any unused space.

I also think it’s important to never pack more than two weeks worth of clothing. If it’s a trip that’s longer than that, I would suggest making sure you have access to laundry services every two weeks.

As a woman, dresses are some of the best items to pack, especially if you’re going somewhere with different climates. You can wear a dress on its own if it is warm or pair it with tights, a jacket, and a scarf if it gets cold. They are very versatile.

Packing cubes really help me stay organized and save space so I highly recommend them. Eagle Creek is a great brand.

- Carmen Edelson, Carmen’s Luxury Travel Blog

I traveled through Italy and Ireland for over two weeks with only a backpack, so I personally know that packing light for a long trip can be done.

The first thing I can say is that less is more.

Clothes and shoes can take up so much room. Instead of packing extra shoes, simply wear the pair you’ll use the entire trip. For clothes, only pack lightweight clothes that can easily be washed in a sink and wear your packable jacket on the plane.

Keep tech gear to a minimum. They’re usually bulky and heavy. Use your smartphone for photos and leave the heavy camera at home.

I share everything I packed for two weeks and how I fit it all in a backpack in this article.

Remember, if you pack it, you have to carry it. You don’t want to be struggling with luggage when you can be having fun.

- Deb Thompson, Just Short of Crazy

We always prefer to travel carry-ons only, even when we’re mixing business (i.e., speaking at travel conferences) with pleasure (i.e., hiking in the Scottish highlands) on a three-week trip.

So our favorite travel packing hack is to take light, breathable, moisture-wicking clothes (including brands such as Craghoppers, ExOfficio, and Mountain Khakis) that can easily be washed in the sink and dried overnight.

We also roll all our clothing tightly before packing to make use of every inch of bag space.

- Bret Love and Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel

I never leave on a trip without my noise-canceling headphones.

They make such a huge difference when traveling on a plane. They are the perfect way to retreat when you desperately need some alone time during the hecticness of traveling.

- Renee Roaming

We made a lot of packing mistakes, which we’ve written about in more detail in this article. However, for my best travel packing hack or advice for long trips: leave behind anything that you can easily purchase abroad!

Generic, universal necessities like toilet paper, soap, chargers, and plug adapters aren’t something you need to bring with you from home. You’re likely to find them abroad, especially anywhere that sees a lot of tourism.

Specific things like your favorite shampoo and conditioner or your preferred menstrual solution are things you’ll want to bring along, as you’re unlikely to find specialty items on your travels.

I also recommend bringing clothing that are made to last.

Our favorite travel clothing is made from merino wool. It’s soft but resilient, perfect in both hot and cool weather thanks to its natural ability to keep you warm when it’s cold out and cool you down when it’s hot out.

It’s also naturally antibacterial, meaning it will not smell and can last longer between washes.

- Lia and Jeremy Garcia, Practical Wanderlust

We always download a map of the city or country we’re heading to via the Google Maps app on our phones.

It’s incredibly useful if we’re traveling and know the service will be spotty or if we’ll have limited access to Wi-Fi.

To download a map, just click on the menu of the app and create a “custom map” using the offline maps feature.

Don’t forget to save your favorite spots on the trip too!

- Selena Taylor, Find Us Lost

There you go, all the best traveling hacks compiled in one article. Now that you know how you can make your travels hassle-free and your preparation efficient, you no longer have to worry about bulky luggage.

Wherever you’re going, whether to the warm tropics or the arctic regions, savor each moment, and have fun. Make your world a little bigger by learning as much as you can in every country you visit.