4 years on the road and 50+ countries under our belts, we know how important it is to simplify your packing. If you have a packing system in place and know what you’re going to pack along with where and how you’re going to pack it, all of that packing anxiety just floats away and you never forget the things you need. We travel with backpacks and travel packs, my husband prefers the former, I go with the latter, but everything here applies equally to suitcase packing, even to carry-on only packing.
How to Make Packing Simple
It all comes down to organisation.
Roll Don’t Fold
Rolling your clothes packs them tighter and smaller and decreases wrinkles.
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TIP: If a lot of your clothes are the same colour, say black, roll them with a distinguishing feature facing outwards, a label or T shirt design maybe.
It’s a nice idea to keep toothbrushes separate from your main wash bag. That way you can slip them into your carry on for long flights or train journeys or pull them out easily if you arrive late and just want to brush your teeth and collapse into bed. We find a small water resistant pouch is best for this.
The pouch we use comes from this set. We have great uses for all of these in our family and use them in conjunction with our E Bags packing cubes
Hopsooken Travel Organizer Luggage Compression Pouches, Wine Red (7-Piece Set)
TIP: Airlines class toothpaste as a liquid. Even if your paste is under 100ml, it needs to be in a clear, plastic bag for inspection. Buy airline friendly toothpaste here.
Underwear is best kept together in a medium size packing cube or pouch. No rummaging about to find your socks, you’ll always be able to find, for instance, the turquoise packing cube.
TIP: Men’s underwear is far more bulky than women’s. If you can convince your men and boys to switch to briefs, it saves a lot of packing space. A lightweight alternative is travel underwear.
Light Tops and T Shirts
Roll them and store them all in one medium sized packing cube. Super easy to find and to pack.
TIP: It’s all about layers with tops and t-shirts. From vests to singlets to long sleeved jersey, combining them will see you through every climate.
You will want to carry at least some of your medical kit with you every day while you are exploring. Pack all of your larger medicines, pills and potions in one larger bag, while keeping a smaller pack of medical essentials in your day pack or handbag. Include such items as paracetamol, antiseptic or iodine, travel sickness or antihistamine pills and plasters/band aids. You can see which essentials we carry in our medical bag, here.
TIP: A travel sized electronic ear thermometer is a great investment with kids.
We are in a fortunate position in that our travel wash bags stay permanently packed, we never unpack them so it’s easy to zip them up and go. Maybe you could get ultra organised like this if you’re a frequent traveller, keep a travel wash kit on standby.
A wash bag that is fairly water resistant to contain spills and is as flat and lightweight as possible is best. Many of the hanging “travel” washbags on the market are too bulky, we’ve tried them and binned them. This new bag from E Bags is GENIUS! For extra peace of mind pack liquids in zip lock bags inside your wash bag. There is a video demo of this product on Amazon if you click through to take a closer look.
eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit (Raspberry)
TIP: Solid shampoo bars are superb, spill proof and easy to get onto planes! I personally use this Karma shampoo bar all the time for its amazing smell and the great things it does for my hair.
We normally just take trekking or hiking shoes along with waterproof sandals or simple rubber flip flops. The packing pouches set at the top of the page has a shoe bag included. If your shoes needs are greater or your footwear more precious, one of these double layer shoe bags would be perfect. These would be great for cruise packing.
Shoe Bag Travel Organizer, BUBM Shoe storage/ Shoe Cube-Portable Waterproof Shoe Tote Bag Organizer for Travel, Workout, Dancing, Gym-Grey
TIP: If you need to pack formal shoes, stuff them with socks or other small items to hold their shape.
Do need to keep these in packing cubes, just roll them and use them to fill out ends and corners of your case or pack.
TIP: Don’t pack trousers that need ironing! I swear by jeans and leggings for every climate.
Travel Gear / Equipment
Soft items like your travel towel, just roll and use to fill out spaces. Items like mosquito nets and sheet sleeping bags are also soft and easy to pack, usually coming with their own stuff sack. If you need things like trekking poles, you have a whole new bunch of problems!
Resource: Gear for Trekking and Nepal
TIP: You generally don’t need what the marketers try to sell you. Check out our travel gear post here.
Documents/ Passports / Money
Really there are two ways to go here, you could go with a travel wallet for documents, credit cards, passports and cash or with a more general organiser like the one below. If you go for a travel wallet, find one to suit the size of your family and that allows multiple passports like the one below. RFID security is built in for extra peace of mind.
Travel Document Organizer, Passport Holder, Clutch Wallet with RFID Blocking (Blue)
TIP: Built in RFID security gives extra peace of mind.
Electrical Items, Leads and Chargers
These are another of my favourite things. I own a Bubm travel organiser and I rarely leave the house without it. It houses my Kindle, phone, an assortment of leads and charges, precious USB sticks, nail files, pens, tissues and all the other things your average busy mum carries. You can pop it in your carry on luggage, store in ou your seat back in flight and transfer it to a regular sizer purse or handbag. Everything stays safe, organised and free from sand and chocolate crumbs.
BUBM Universal Double Layer Travel Gear Organizer / Electronics Accessories Bag / Battery Charger Case (Large, Grey and Orange)
If you have even more electronic gear to carry ( as my kids do) this roomier electronics organiser fits the bill and will fit your i-pad.
TIP: Just buy one!
I hope the tips and product above help keep your packing and travel simple, I know I love being organised, it’s key to travelling smarter, safer and swifter.
Over to you, any amazing packing tips to share?
Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.