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Packing Tips from Our Readers

suitcase pack packing travel vacationAre you the type of traveler who can't leave home with fewer than four suitcases? Or the type who crams clothes willy-nilly into each bag and then doesn't understand why every shirt comes out riddled with wrinkles?

Whatever your packing problems, our readers can help. IndependentTraveler.com members have responded to our Packing Tips with their own travel-tested suggestions for saving space, reducing wrinkles and lightening your load.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

"I ask my older relatives to save for me the plastic bottles where their prescription pills come. These usually have childproof caps which means that you can put liquids in them and they won't spill. So I use them for all liquids I need to pack. The small ones are good for one-time use of shampoo, cough medicine, liquid laundry soap, etc. The medium and larger sizes I use for longer trips, because I can put enough liquid in them to last for a few uses. When they emptly, I just throw them away. And when I return home my relatives have a few more bottles waiting." -- Conchy

Mix and Match

"After having checked luggage go missing on a trip, my partner and I always mix items in the bags. Day and evening wear, underclothes and footwear for each of us in both bags, that way we each have something to wear until the lost luggage turns up!" -- Vee

What Not to Pack

Make a List and Check It Twice

"My best packing tip is to tuck your packing list into your carry-on when you are done packing. If your suitcase gets lost, you have a list of everything that was in it. On a more positive note, I also carry a photo of our suitcases. That is invaluable when trying to answer the question, 'And what do your suitcases look like?'" -- BonnieC

If the Shoe Fits

"I always pack two different pairs of comfortable walking shoes, because no matter how comfortable the shoes are, after a full day of walking, your feet will hurt somewhere. By alternating the shoes, you nver get to the point where your feet are hurting so much you can't enjoy the trip." -- chrisnjeanne

It All Comes Out in the Wash

"I went to Japan last year, and took one of the extra huge zip-top bags with me and used it as a washing machine! I was able to get a LOT of clothes into it at once. I just put in the clothes, poured in the soap, filled it with water and then agitated it around in the tub until the clothes were all clean. It made the washing and rinsing a breeze, and my clothes got much cleaner than if I was just washing in the sink." -- USRoadTripper

A Gem(stone) of a Tip

"I have two absolute favorite jewelry tips. For necklaces and bracelets, INDEX CARDS! Tape the end to an index card and wrap it around the card, then secure with a hair tie. For earrings, safety pins, bobby pins and other random items, wash out an Altoids tin. They are metal, snap securely shut and pack just about anywhere in a suitcase. (Also worth doing: Make a sewing kit and pack it in an Altoids tin.) -- gotsparkly

Minimize Your Meds

"Being 'of a certain age,' I take quite a few daily medications. Rather than take bulky hard plastic containers, I pack all my pills in miniature zip-lock bags (available at craft stores). I label these with permanent marker and put them all in a sandwich bag. They take up no room at all!" -- hari

Medications for Travel

Pop to Relieve Stress, Pack to Protect Valuables

"I always bring a sheet of bubble wrap -- small bubbles -- for any breakable items I might buy along the way. I am sure it's saved more than one treasure I have gotten home safely and it takes up no space at all." --sunnyflies

packing travel vacation pack suitcase woman bed
Outsmart the Airlines

"With the airlines weighing bags to increase their fees, you can put many heavy items in your pockets. You could even sew extra large pockets inside of your jacket to carry more onto the plane and transfer them back into your carry-on later." -- hbuhr

Charitable Reduction

"Preparing for a three-week cruise, I decided to go to the back of my closet and pull out the clothes that I would not necessarily have chosen as 'the pick of the day.' They were all right, but not my favorites. I chose either to donate to charity along the way or to chuck the items. WAHOO! Loads and loads of weight reduction, not to speak of extra space for shopping and/or souvenirs." -- Joko

Beach Bummin'

"When packing to head to the beach, consider prepacking whatever you might need at the beach into a beach bag inside your backpack or suitcase. Especially if traveling with kids, this will prove a timesaver!" -- deanac24

Reduce and Reuse

"Try to pack light enough that you don't have to check anything! You can do that by keeping yourself to one pair of shoes (which you wear), one or maybe two pairs of pants, and only enough shirts to wear each of them twice. Traveling is NOT the time for vanity. (Obviously this might not work if you're going to a very hot climate or if you're going to be doing particularly strenuous activity, but for normal sightseeing I don't usually have any issues wearing a shirt twice -- just remember the deodorant!)" -- soliteyah

The Carry-On Challenge: How to Pack Light Every Time

It's in the Bag

"I buy two-gallon zip-lock bags to use when packing. I pick out a complete outfit (shirt, pants or skirt, underwear and socks to match -- all wrinkle-free materials) and pack them in the large bag, removing as much air as possible. This prevents having to rummage through the clothes to find coordinating items and messing up the suitcase. I make sure that I have one bag per day or event, then just pull out a bag and get ready!" -- Debbi G.


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