packing-hacks-featureI love finding new uses for old things. There’s something satisfying about finding a way to repurpose something, rather than tossing it in the trash. I have a few awesome packing hacks that I’ve been using for a few years now but a quick Google search proved that I wasn’t the only one to come up with these brilliant ideas. I’m telling you, it’s getting harder and harder to come up with an original idea, these days. Just try coming up with a new website address and you’ll see what I mean. THEY ARE ALL TAKEN. But I digress …

Packing is a challenge for most of us but there are lots of ways to minimize the stress and maximize the space you have in your suitcase. These 12 packing hacks are a combination of my own ideas and others I’ve sourced from around the web. Some you may have read before but hopefully there are some new ideas here as well. I hope you find them helpful! Plus, since I’m always looking for new ways to be a more efficient packer, share your best packing tips or packing hack in the comments below.

12 packing hacks

1 Use tiny button bags for earrings
When you buy a new piece of clothing, you’ll often find spare buttons attached in a small ziploc-like bag. Spare those little bags from dustbin destiny and use them to store earrings and necklaces when you travel. They’re a handy storage solution even when you’re not traveling.

2 Toothbrush holders are perfect for makeup brushes
A full-size plastic toothbrush holder is the perfect vessel for makeup brushes. My brushes are sometimes too long to fit in my makeup bag. Plus, if they’ve still got product on them, things can get messy. Use a plastic toothbrush holder to store and pack them. The best part is that you can easily wash the container when it starts to get dirty.

3 Tic Tac containers easily store hair pins
Tic Tac containers are perfect for storing bobby pins so they don’t get scattered all over the place or lost in the abyss at the bottom of your purse.

4 Shoe bags can be used as laundry bags
Sometimes when you buy a new pair of shoes or a fancy handbag, you’ll get a fabric shoe bag along with it. These bags make perfect laundry bags while you’re on the road.

5 Use a belt to keep a men’s shirt collar stiff
Huh? I found this great tip on Buzzfeed: A rolled belt inserted into the collar of a men’s dress shirt will ensure that it keeps its shape and doesn’t get crushed.

6 Shower caps as shoe protectors
I haven’t used this one before but I’m going to start! The disposable shower caps that most hotels provide are perfect for wrapping around the soles of your shoes, thus keeping your clothes around them clean.

7 Dryer sheets can keep things smelling fresh
Living out of a suitcase does have its drawbacks, especially if you don’t have access to laundry facilities. Fake it by throwing some dryer sheets into your suitcase to keep things smelling fresh.

8 Use pillboxes for jewelry
Pillboxes with the days of the week on them are perfect for keeping necklackes, rings and earrings organized while you’re on the go.

9 Use straws to prevent tangled necklaces
Traveling with necklaces is a challenge. Somehow, they always end up tangled. To prevent this, string the two ends through two straws and you’ll never unpack to find a knotted mess you can’t undo.

10 Contact cases for earrings
Another great way to store small earrings: inside a contact lens case.

11 Sunglasses cases can be used in a variety of ways
Sunglasses cases can be used in many ways. If it’s large enough, it can be used to store a small iPhone charger and earbuds. It can be used as an emergency kit (complete with Band-Aids, painkillers, anti-histamines and NeoSporin.) They can also be used to hold a few bottles of nail polish to keep them from breaking.

12 Sheet cases can protect delicates
When you buy a set of sheets, they often come packaged in zipped, plastic bags. Those bags can be used to protect clothing that you really want to keep safe, like white clothes or clothing made from delicate fabrics that you don’t want to get stained or pulled in any way.

{Image via Ruche}

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32 Comments on 12 Packing Hacks

  1. Sue
    July 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm (3 years ago)

    And I thought I was an organized packer! Learned a few innovative tips from you. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Sue – I’m glad you found it helpful!

      Reply
  2. Jessica
    July 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Love, love these tips! I already do a few of these things but will definitely be incorporating a some others into my packing routine for my next trip!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm (3 years ago)

      Yay!!! That makes me so happy!

      Reply
  3. The Belle Voyage
    July 29, 2014 at 1:35 am (3 years ago)

    I always lose little stud earrings among my other jewelry pieces while traveling so I love the button bag, pillbox and contact case tips! I have also used empty medicine bottles as tiny cases too, to store odds and ends while traveling. Also…I am guilty of filling my purse with multiple pencil cases (yep…the kind you might find in a child’s backpack) to keep my things organized and separated. Nothing worse than bending over in your airplane seat with your head in someone’s lap rummaging through a bag to find something!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm (3 years ago)

      OK, this made me laugh out loud. I think we’ve all been there, with our head in someone’s lap as we rummage through our bag that’s squeezed under the seat in front of us. Haha – funny visual. Pencil cases definitely work but if you want to try something a little more chic, how about these pouches that are on sale: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/sale/style/bags-wallets-pouches/ I LOVE the medium striped pouchettes and they’re on sale for $6!

      Reply
  4. Lauren
    July 29, 2014 at 7:17 pm (3 years ago)

    These are excellent tips!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Lauren! It really makes my day to hear that people find these tips useful 🙂

      Reply
  5. Dalia
    July 29, 2014 at 7:24 pm (3 years ago)

    I hadn’t heard the toothpicks tip yet so the article was at least somewhat original for me!
    Ok, so despite packing multiple pencil cases like BELLE VOYAGE says, I am always rummaging. Any tips that have personally helped you to find things instantly? My problem is that when I feel rushed (like when boarding) I stuff things into my bag and don’t put them into their spot. Am I just fated to be a “rummager” or are there habits that help you avoid this?

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm (3 years ago)

      Ah, the plight of the eternal rummager. I totally hear you. Rummaging sucks – and it’s also how you lose things. Or ‘think’ you’ve lost something and then spend an hour rummaging for it, while having a full-blown panic attack. I used to always be looking for my passport, my boarding pass, my phone … but the key is planning ahead, taking your time, paying attention … that might sound simple but it’s really helped me. I also use pouches like The Belle Voyage says. And for my passport and boarding pass, etc. I use this Dagne Dover clutch: http://www.dagnedover.com/ It’s definitely helped me stay organized. It’s also important not to pack anything you don’t need. Make sure your bag just has the essentials, otherwise you’re rummaging through extraneous stuff that shouldn’t even be in your bag. And you do have to take the time to put something back where it belongs when you’re done with it, instead of throwing it back into the black hole of your bag. Not sure if any of this helps, but hope it does!

      Reply
  6. Erica
    July 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm (3 years ago)

    I love all these tips! Some of them I already use but there are some good new ones here, too!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Erica!

      Reply
  7. RobRob
    July 31, 2014 at 5:51 pm (3 years ago)

    If you get the Sunday paper, save the bag it comes in for your shoes. Depending on your shoe size and style, you may need two, but they’re cheap! I’ve also heard (but not tested) that the bags from the dry cleaners can help you avoid wrinkles by leaving them on your clothes when packing. And those little zip lock button bags are also handy for spare ear buds; keeps them from getting tangled in other stuff.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      July 31, 2014 at 5:54 pm (3 years ago)

      Great suggestion to use those button bags for ear buds – love it!

      Reply
  8. angel crush
    July 31, 2014 at 8:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Don’t for get the clear plastic zipper bags you get from buying an extra pair of pillow cases.

    These sturdy, clear bags are perfect for the small liquids that have to be shown at security. 🙂

    ~ angel

    Reply
    • Natalie
      August 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm (3 years ago)

      Ah, perfect! Love this suggestion!

      Reply
  9. Karen
    July 31, 2014 at 9:57 pm (3 years ago)

    2 Gallon Zip bags are great to pack complete outfits. They can then double as storage for dirty clothes. I also learned the “hard way” to exchange a complete outfit zip bag with a travel companion. If you luggage is lost, you will have one complete ensemble.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      August 2, 2014 at 10:45 pm (3 years ago)

      Yes – that’s a great tip! In fact, you can take it a step further and pack half of your stuff in your bag and the other half in your travel companion’s bag (and vice versa) so that if luggage is lost, you’re still set.

      Reply
  10. jill
    July 31, 2014 at 11:00 pm (3 years ago)

    Awhile back I found one of those pill boxes that has a space for each day of the week. Each section holds just the right amount of creams, cleansers and lotions for a short vacation. Just remember to look for the kind that has separate flip tops for each section so things can’t mix

    Reply
    • Natalie
      August 2, 2014 at 10:47 pm (3 years ago)

      Great idea. Those little compartments can also be used to store jewellery. They’re perfect for small earrings. Do you ever find that the flip tops open while you’re traveling? Because that could get messy. I guess you can just put it in a Ziploc bag. Ziploc bags come in handy for so many things!

      Reply
  11. nini
    August 1, 2014 at 12:39 am (3 years ago)

    I recycle medicine bottles for qtips, toothpicks, a home made 1st aid kit, change & meds. Plastic Shopping bags for shoes & laundry. I use a shower pouff attached to my suitcase to identify it.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      August 2, 2014 at 10:48 pm (3 years ago)

      Those medicine bottles can come in handy for so many uses. Love the idea of creating a homemade first aid kit.

      Reply
  12. Kate K
    August 1, 2014 at 2:25 am (3 years ago)

    Excellent tips Natalie! Always nervous about losing earrings/rings when packing to travel… have a bunch of button bags to use. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      August 2, 2014 at 10:48 pm (3 years ago)

      Glad you found this helpful, Kate! 🙂

      Reply
  13. Amy
    August 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm (3 years ago)

    These are ALL new to me! Great list!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      August 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Amy! I’m glad these tips are new – and helpful! – to you!

      Reply
  14. Harmony
    November 30, 2014 at 12:19 am (3 years ago)

    Thin necklace chains always get me and I currently roll each one up in a kleenex “burrito”. Not all that beautiful of a way to store jewelry, but hey, it works. I lay the kleenex flat, lay a necklace diagonally across it, fold the kleenex over it (so it’s a triangle), and then burrito roll it. No tangles. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Eileen
    January 14, 2015 at 10:03 pm (3 years ago)

    These are fantastic tips now I just need some where to travel…one day… San Fran!

    Reply
  16. Mona Palmer
    March 3, 2016 at 3:33 pm (2 years ago)

    Sometimes even those week at a time pill boxes can take up more room than you have to spare. I like to use the little zip up button bags for my medications. I mark several of the little bags AM in one color and more pm in another color. I put a single dose of everything I take in the morning in one bag marked AM and a single dose of everything I take in the evening in another bag marked PM. This way I only take out one dose at a time instead of having to deal with the box every time I need to take a dose of medicine. And those little bags can be bought in the jewelry department of your favorite craft store – really cheap for a pack of 100.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      March 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm (2 years ago)

      Oh, I didn’t know you could buy those little bags. I’m always squirreling them away when I buy a new item of clothing. Good to know – thanks!!

      Reply
  17. Johnny Jet
    August 25, 2017 at 3:50 pm (4 months ago)

    Great tips as always!

    Reply
  18. Sarah
    August 25, 2017 at 9:48 pm (4 months ago)

    I’m always looking for good ideas, thank you! Here’s something I do when travelling – I have a small mesh pouch with a zip (a see-through cosmetic bag works well). It sits on my hotel bedside table and contains ear plugs, lip balm, eye drops, tissues and a small torch. When I take off my watch/jewellery I place them inside and zip it up. You can grab and go in a hurry without losing bits and pieces and who hasn’t done that panic search before checking out? Or worse, not noticing you’ve forgotten your earrings? Also could be handy for cough lozenges, glasses, or whatever you need at 3am in a strange room!

    Reply

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