Headed Out of Town for the Holidays? Here’s 5 Tips for Smarter Packing!

Holiday traveling can be both extremely exciting, and extremely overwhelming (you pick.) Even more overwhelming are the airports during this time – have you seen Home Alone?!

The last thing you need to worry about is how you’re going to pack all your favorite outfits for your week-long (give or take) vacation. I wasn’t always the best packer – I remember traveling to Ethiopia with a raggedy suitcase and feeling exhausted lugging it everywhere. But overtime I got better, and now I RIGHTFULLY claim to be the best packer, ever! I recently took a two-week trip to Japan and Thailand and managed to comfortably pack a carry-on and a backpack. I’m proud!

As an avid traveler, I’ve come up with some great hacks to pack for trips. Whether you’re taking a 3-day or 3-week-long vacation, here’s five great ways to pack your favorite items into a carry-on.

1. Get a great carry-on suitcase.


This is an important step, which is why it’s step one. There’s nothing better than a carry-on that is stylish, fits all your needs, and is easy to drag along. At one point I had a Guess 3-piece suitcase set (that was straight FIRE) and it lasted for years. When it wore out, I realized I didn’t use all three pieces and when I did, carrying all that luggage was heavy and pointless. I never used everything I packed. I knew that with my next piece of luggage I needed something durable, small, but resourceful. I purchased a Calpack carry-on and it’s my best travel purchase yet. It’s multi-dimensional, so I can pack what I need using the various compartments it offers. Even better, I don’t have to check my luggage and I can get on and off planes with ease. Carry-ons on the site start at around $165, but I got mine from Marshall’s for $70. YAS!

2. Organization is key.

Make sure you consider all the compartments your luggage offers. They’re helpful because they reduce the amount of open space you use in the middle of the suitcase. I love using small compartments that are creative and/ or hidden for things such as socks, jewelry, and bras. You can also purchase packing cubes, which help with organization and sometimes save space. I love eBags, and the website typically offers great discounts

3. Toiletries.

I am not a huge fan of makeup, which saves me a lot of space (and money) in my bag. I carry my top necessities when traveling: tinted brow gel, L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara, my Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Fenty Glow, and Marcelle’s Complete Correction CC Cream in Golden Glow. I recommend buying travel-size toiletries from Target, or buying a few items once you reach your destination (to minimize packing). For natural-haired girls like myself, Amazon offers a great selection of travel-size Cantu products. Or, you can purchase a carry-on toiletry bag with plastic bottles to fill with your own products. Here’s one of my favorites from Bagsmart, found on Amazon.

4. Less is more.

I can’t stress this enough. Efficient packing is so important because you reduce the chances of leaving something behind and you aren’t stuck carrying a ton of things around. After years of packing, I know what’s important for me to take on trips. For instance, I used to pack about seven outfits to work out in for a week-long trip to Ohio. When, in reality, I worked out maybe three times. Let’s be honest, my ambition was there, but my overpacking was unnecessary. I narrowed my fitness fits down to three pieces: tights, a top, and a sports bra. I wear my tennis shoes on the plane. If I work out more than anticipated I simply wash my clothes and repeat.

5. Take items that can be repurposed.

Wearing my snake print paper bag shorts from H&M in Phuket as a cover up…
And I wore them here, at a festival as a “romper”

Think ahead about your outfits and accessories. Are you going to a fancy dinner? Pack a great pair of shoes that can be worn again when you explore the city with your friends the following day. Headed to the beach? Take your top two favorite swimsuits and wear one as a cute top (before you swim in it.) Does it get cool in the evenings? Take a scarf that can be worn around your neck for the weather, or your shoulders for another outfit. Consider all of your activities during your trip and pack items that can be used more than once!    

While there’s a ton of different ways to pack light(er), I hope these steps help you become a more efficient packer. More importantly, I hope you enjoy your trip!

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