Packing Tips to Save Space and Money

empty suitcaseIf you’re flying, it’s all about keeping baggage fees to a minimum and making your trek through the airport as stress-free as possible.

If you’re driving, it’s all about making sure everything fits in the car and there’s no undue weight to decrease gas mileage.

Most people over-pack….  Case in point, I think I spent a great deal of the time I was raising babies and toddlers over-packing the diaper bag!!! With every trip I take, I’m becoming a lighter and lighter packer.  🙂  This brings me a great sense of accomplishment!

GUIDING PRINCIPLE:  Ask Yourself:  What’s the worst thing that will happen if I don’t bring this item?  If the answer is ‘I would die or suffer unbelievable pain’, then by all means, BRING IT.  If the answer is not  ‘I would die or suffer unbelievable pain’, then consider NOT bringing it.  That formula has worked pretty well for us the last few years as I’ve tried to pare down our luggage on trips.

Here’s a few more packing tips:

  • Even when packing for a 10-12 day trip, we pack 5-6 days of clothes.  Doing laundry is NOT difficult!! (I use 2-3 machines at once and get it done in an hour)   Traveling with multiple suitcases IS difficult!!!
  • Choose a color pallet of 2 basic colors and 1-2 pieces in an accent color  (possibly 1 shirt and 1 scarf or statement necklace)  Everything goes together.  You can get by with 3-4 bottoms,  5-6 tops, a jacket  and a few accessories.  From that, you can put together multiple outfits with nothing ‘repeated’.  🙂
  • “Roll clothes” as you pack them.  I had never really believed this, even though many people said it.  THEN, I tested it!!  Amazing!!!

    Photo Credit: Diane Cordell CC Lic.

    Rolling clothes really does take less room in the suitcase. CAUTION:  Don’t do this with clothes that wrinkle easily.  In fact, unless you have a very good reason to take that easily wrinkled item, it’s probably best left at home!! (imho)  In our suitcases, some things are rolled, others aren’t…it conserves a little space.

  • Use the straps in your suitcase to compress items.
  • If flying, weigh your bag before leaving home. Luggage scales aren’t that expensive, but you don’t have to have one.  Use your bathroom scale. Weigh yourself…then hold the suitcase and weigh again. Subtract the two numbers and you’ll have the weight of the bag. When we’re doing this, I keep the suitcase under 47#  to allow for differences in scales.



  • Pack shampoo, lotion, etc… in travel size bottles. Though you can purchase travel sizes of many products, I prefer to purchase travel size bottles from The Dollar Tree and fill them with my own ‘favorites’…or use the sample bottles that come in thetravel size bottles mail or are in hotel rooms.  It’s cheaper…and I get the products I want!  The bottles can then be reused on future vacations.   If you’re concerned about spillage or leaking, make a “bottle stopper” by placing a small piece of plastic (from a plastic shopping bag) inside the lid before closing it….OR simply put the bottles in a Ziploc bag (or do both).  You will probably have acquired a plastic bag at some point in your trip that can be used to ‘seal’ the bottles for your return trip.
  • A TicTac box will hold many different things…from bobby pins to stud earring to ???   Keep a few throughout the year, rinse them out and put them with your travel things.  When you begin packing, you WILL find uses for them.  If you don’t, throw them away then…   I always find a use for them.   🙂
  • Shoes: Because everyone in our family is tall and has feet on the bigger side, we MUST ‘restrict’ the number of  shoes each person brings. A good ‘rule of thumb’ is  1 pair good walking shoes (sneakers), 1 pair good walking sandals and 1 pair flip flops/water shoes for a beach destination or hiking shoes for a ‘hiking’ vacation per person. Even with this restriction, we’re still taking TWELVE pair of adult size shoes!! At least this formula keeps things from getting FAR out of hand and enables us to do most anything we want on a vacation with proper shoes.
  • Pack shoes along the outside edges of the suitcase to provide protection to more delicate items on the interior of the case (especially if flying).  Place delicate or breakable souvenirs INSIDE shoes for added protection.  Never put anything delicate or breakable along the edges or on the top or bottom….nestle them in the interior.
  • Don’t waste the space inside those shoes – Pack items like socks or underwear in there.
  • Place the heaviest items (typically shoes or toiletry bags) at the BOTTOM of the case.  This puts the weight at the bottom eliminating that ‘topple’ syndrome.
  • If we plan to do laundry, we always take laundry soap – to avoid paying the inflated prices at the laundromat.  I HIGHLY recommend the Pods/individual packets of soap.  Powdered soap need to be packed very securely (in a Ziploc bag THEN in a  plastic Rubbermaid, Glad or Dollar Tree version container because of the strong chemical smell. That smell permeates everything in the suitcase. We don’t mind our clothes smelling like laundry soap (haha) but on one vacation we arrived with our microwave popcorn, granola bars, Altoids, gum, etc   almost inedible because they absorbed the chemical smell and ‘tasted’ like soap. When the soap is contained, there’s no scent.

Photo Credit: Mandy Jansen on Flickr CC Lic.

The Main Point here is to pack light and pack tight. It saves you money. It saves you time.  It saves your back!  🙂



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