5 Top Packing Tools For Your Next Trip

“The only trip you will regret is the one you don’t take.” -Unknown

For those of us that love to travel, I would bet that we all have tricks and tools for packing and traveling efficiently.  Over the years, these five tools have become my top tricks as we prepare to travel. 

A Sturdy Suitcase

My poor suitcase travels hard so when I shop for a new suitcase, which is one of my all-time favorite things to do, I keep in mind the many hazards that my dear suitcase will be asked to endure.  It will need to stand up to being thrown onto multiple conveyor belts, being transported in the cold, unpressurized underbelly of our airplanes, being stacked between other heavy suitcases, thrown on and off shuttles and buses, dropped on the floor, shoved under beds, and into closets, stored in the hot attic at home when not on the road, endlessly zipped and unzipped, and don’t forget, sometimes packed to its capacity! 

With all those tortures in mind, I look for suitcases with strong, smoothly moving zippers; an expandable section that will give me just the slightest extra room, if I need it; handles on the side and top that have some give and will aid in handling the suitcase easily; and four rugged, indestructible wheels so my suitcase will roll beside me and I don’t have to drag it.  For me, the wheels are by far the most important feature. From my experience, if anything is going to break, it will be the wheels! I look for rubber wheels rather than plastic ones for durability.

Unsplash/Robert Gomez

Compression Packing Cubes

For big trips, the best packing advice I was ever given was to pack into a suitcase a size smaller than I would usually take.  I’ve discovered that this means, not taking the “just in case” items and focusing on what I will really need. To help, I’ve discovered compression packing cubes that effectively help me to follow that advice.

Sure packing cubes are great at keeping a suitcase organized, but a compression packing cube is just what I need to help with space!  Compression cubes have two zippers. When both zippers are open, the cube will look like any other packing cube.  But, once packed and both zippers are closed, my clothes are compressed and held in place, providing the extra room needed to downsize into that smaller suitcase.  My go-to brand is Tripped Travel Gear and you can find them on Amazon at https://bit.ly/3s8hbk7.  If you buy through this link, I may receive the tiniest commission, at no cost to you! You won’t be sorry. I have two sets now and I love them! 

Packing three tee shirts and three pants into a packing cube fit perfectly. Organized, check!
Packing the same three tee shirts and pants into a compression cube with two zippers pushes out extra air and gives me a little more space. Check, check!!

Good Toiletries bag

I often hear my traveling friends talk about their search for a good toiletries bag.  Most often, this means a spacious bag that holds liquids if there is a leak. However, to those requirements, add the ability to hang and you have the ideal travel tool. A good hanging toiletries bag offers zipped compartments and space inside to organize. On a cruise ship and in some hotels, bathroom counter space can be limited so having the ability to hang your toiletries is a great option. I have a well-worn hanging toiletries bag that I purchased from L.L. Bean and it has been the superstar of my suitcase for countless trips.

Lite accessory bags

When packing my carry-on or even for suitcase odds and ends, I look for lightweight accessory bags.  The best are plastic or fabric. 

In my carry-on, I always pack one accessory bag with everything I will want or need during the flight.  I always include earbuds and electronics, a power cord, mints and snacks, lip balm, boarding passes, antibacterial wipes, and earplugs if I want to catch a nap. I even take my eye drops and hand lotion out of my liquids bag after going through security and pop them into this bag so I have it when the air on the plane is just too dry. Just before getting on the plane, I take it out and keep it with me as I store my carry-on.  This ensures that I’m quick to settle into my seat and I have all of my gear ready to fly!

My in-flight gear goes into a cloth accessory bag so I have what I need in hand and don’t have to dig around in my carry-on while we fly. I found this one, my favorite, on the Etsy shop MollyMooJessicaToo.

Day bag

At our destination, we often head out for excursions or spend the day exploring.  For these day trips, I always pack a day bag with essentials like our raincoats, camera, sunscreen, water bottle, and any other necessary supplies for the day.  Typically, if I don’t use our day bag to actually travel to our destination, I will pack it into the bottom of my suitcase.  I also try to carry the lightest day bag possible and pick one that my husband is willing to carry so we can switch off the load.

I hope my tools for travel give you some helpful ideas when you pack for your next adventure and give you just the wiggle room you need in your suitcase!

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