How to Efficiently Pack Your Luggage

It's impressive the amount of stuff you can fit into a 70L backpack as every time, I still manage to overpack.

It’s impressive the amount of stuff you can fit into a 70L backpack if you pack it all correctly. Unsurprisingly, I always seem to take more than I need.

Every trip I go on, I secretly get very excited to pack up all my gear and I even have a little box sitting in my apartment in which I slowly compile everything I want to take. Although I quite enjoy packing, I end up getting frustrated pretty quickly when I can’t seem to get it all to fit in my bag or suitcase, but over time, I’ve managed to figure out a pretty efficient way to pack all my stuff. So here are some tips to think about when packing for your next vacation destination:

1. Roll Your Clothes

It is incredible how much space you can save by rolling all of your clothes rather than packing them flat on top of each other. Not only does it help prevent creasing in your clothing as there are no sharp folding lines, but it is a very efficient way to pack your clothing while maximizing the space in your luggage.

2. Compression Sacks

I keep all of my clothing in two 15 liter compression sacks. These are useful to squeeze out all the extra air between pieces of clothing and pack it down into a tiny little ball to shove in the bottom section of my backpack. I keep my tops in one and all of my pants and bottoms in another and grab out what I need when I need it. Sometimes it gets annoying to have to undo all the straps just to get at one shirt, which might be buried in the bottom, but it lets me carry a few extra shirts while I travel and keeps things organized.

Packing cubes effectively organize all the little things you need to carry in your backpack.

Packing cubes effectively organize all the little things you need to carry in your backpack.

3. Packing Cubes

These soft little organizers are a godsend. They are the perfect little organizational cubes to keep the small things all together and easy to access. I have a large one that contains all of my toiletries so it’s easy to pack on top and grab-and-go when I’m off to shower and get ready. I also carry one that keeps all my utility items while I travel, everything from laundry detergent and a utility knife to spare batteries and a mini sewing kit. One keeps all my cables, cords, and plug-ins (in my smaller backpack) and the third one holds all my medical supplies, drugs, and bandages. Each one is a different color so I can easily tell what’s inside of it and grab it quickly to get what I need. These little cubes make your backpack a lot neater and easier to pack up when you’re off to your next destination

4. Travel Size Containers

I must admit, there are a few luxury items I bring along with me, and one of them is salon-quality shampoo in 300ml bottles while I travel. If you can, downgrade your jumbo size bottles of toiletries you have at home into travel size containers. You can pick up shampoo, body wash, etc. anywhere in the world so there is no point carrying any more weight than you need to. It’s true, however, that you’ll spend a bit more money buying all these little containers so often, they might not have your preferred brand and it can be annoying having to buy them so frequently, but if you’re worried about weight and space, travel-sizing as many toiletry items as you can is the way to go.

Also, try and purchase travel towels before you go. They are smaller, thinner and dry quickly. I usually carry two towels with me, one to use when I shower and one to use at the beach and for scuba diving in the ocean. The towel gets stiff from salt so wouldn’t be fun to reuse when toweling off from a clean shower. Any chance I can, I will use the towel provided by the hostel, but often you have to rent them or don’t receive one.

5. Pick Matching Tones

One thing to make sure you do, is color match. If everything in your wardrobe works with each other your clothing items will be able to go with each other much more easily. For my current trip, I stuck to a clothing scheme of grey, white, and black for my neutrals, and shades of blue and purple for most of my other clothing. I made sure each sweater could be worn with multiple tank tops and items swapped out with different pants or shorts regardless of if it was fitness gear or going out items. I chose plain tank tops and shirts and also ones that had patterns on them to spice things up a bit. Your few travel clothes get boring quickly when you wear them so often so make sure they mix and match well.

My 26L Deuter Backpack is perfect for a carry on or for treks through jungles or up mountains.

6. Carry a Second, Smaller Backpack

This doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but I usually carry a smaller backpack on my front (usually no more than 22-26 liters). This backpack stays with me on buses and airplanes and it’s perfect to repack for day or overnight hikes. I carry my passport, guidebook, a sweater, and all of my technology in it along with water and food while I’m traveling.

7. Organize Effectively

Also keep in mind that you want to have often-used items easily accessible so you don’t have to dig to the bottom of your bag every time. I keep my sleep wear on top, along with my toiletries and towel so I can grab them easily if I get to a location late at night. Utility items or activity-specific items that won’t get used at every destination tend to get placed in deeper and less easily accessible spots in my bag.

8. Try Not to Overpack

I admit, I’m usually not the best person to talk to about packing light and I often end up shipping a few items of clothing home or ditching some along the way. But, if you can, try not to overpack your clothing. Try to take one of each type or style of clothing with respect to the environments you’ll be traveling in (hot, cold, outdoor, nightlife etc.) and make things layerable. And remember, you can always buy another shirt or pair of pants at your destination if you really regret leaving your favorite jeans behind.

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