45 Packing Hacks For An Effortless Vacation

By Larissa C

Going on a vacation is just marvelous. There is nothing better than enjoying time off work and getting to know new places. The more money we manage to save, the more we can travel to amazing places. But there’s one thing that almost always poses a problem for travelers, and that’s packing. Packing our bags for a vacation can be pretty daunting, especially if we’re going to spend more than two weeks away and have to take lots of items with us. Bringing multiple bags with you on vacation is not ideal and will certainly make you annoyed when you have to carry them around without any assistance. To help you have the best vacation experience possible, below we compiled 45 packing hacks and tips to help you plan and organize for your next vacation!

#1: Shoes inside shower caps!

Finding the most efficient method to place our shoes within a bag is one of the biggest problems we have when packing. Shoes have direct contact with the ground, thus they’re very dirty. How can we possibly pack without getting our clothes dirty because of our shoes?

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This person came up with a great solution: putting shoes inside shower caps! You’re going to need them both during a vacation, and this way your shoes won’t get your clothes dirty. And the best part is that plastic shower caps can be easily washed, so there’s no problem in putting your shoes inside them!

#2: Items inside shoes!

Another great packing hack that involves shoes is storing items inside pairs of them in order to save space in your bag. Shoes aren’t that large, so you can only store smaller and more compact items, such as cords, perfume sample vials, or even socks and underwear.

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The inside sole of shoes is not nearly as dirty as the outside, so there should be no problem in storing wearable items inside them. Though you can always use small plastic bags to protect your items from having direct contact with the shoes if you’re in doubt.

#3: Use packing cubes!

Another approach to make sure you’re making optimum use of your luggage is by utilizing packing cubes. These types of bags were created specially to help travelers organize their items and save space in their bags. Have you ever used one of these packing cubes?

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See how they can help you compress your items and save needed space in your luggage? If you choose to use packing cubes, then you’ll have two options regarding what to do with your bag: You can either choose to bring more items with you on vacation, or you can choose to leave that empty space to bring home souvenirs from your trip!

#4: Store cords inside a glasses case!

If you have an empty glasses case lying around your home collecting dust, you can give this case a new purpose — you can turn it into a cord case! Cords can be quite troublesome because they get tangled, malfunction easily, and tend to fail if not stored correctly.

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We’re pretty sure you don’t want to arrive at your travel destination and find out that your phone’s charging cable suddenly broke during the trip. In order to avoid this, you can simply use a glasses case to store cords and other fragile cables to keep them safe.

#5: Keep your outfits sorted!

When we travel, one of the main issues we have is deciding how many clothes we should bring with us. We can’t bring too many clothes or else there won’t be any space in our luggage. And we can’t bring only a few clothes to risk not having enough outfits. A great way to overcome this problem is by sorting outfits by day!

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When packing, you might find yourself asking questions such as, “How many days is my vacation going to last?”, “How many outfits will I wear in a day?” or “What if something happens and I need an extra outfit for the day?” These are all questions you can ask yourself when sorting your vacation outfits!

#6: Roll your clothes!

Rolling your clothes before putting them in the suitcase is a classic packing method. Even though there are several different ways of packing nowadays, the original rolling method is still considered efficient. There are plenty of benefits of using this method, including the fact that it’s extremely easy.

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Another great benefit of using this method is that it helps save a lot of space in your luggage – way more space than you would if you simply folded your clothes or even stored them in packing cubes! All you have to do is place your clothes on the bed and roll them — pretty simple, right?

#7: Use bottles for toiletries!

In addition to clothes and shoes, we also need to bring toiletries and other personal hygiene items when we embark on a vacation. That means that we also need some extra space in our luggage for those items — but there’s an effective way of saving space for them!

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Yep, it’s the classic toiletries bottles! Instead of bringing the entire shampoo bottle, you can always put a small amount of shampoo inside a travel bottle. You can do the same for skincare items such as moisturizers, cleansers, and oils and creams. Alternatively, you can probably skip the shampoo and soap — usually shampoos, conditioner, and soaps are available at the hotel you’re staying in anyway

#8: Save space for souvenirs!

If you’ve traveled abroad before, you’ve probably considered bringing an extra empty suitcase just for souvenirs and other items you’re buying in the foreign country you’re visiting. There is a catch! Buying a new suitcase can be pretty expensive, especially abroad. If this is a worry you have, this next tip is for you!

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In case you’re not feeling like spending some extra money to buy an empty suitcase for souvenirs, you can always use the tips we’ve given you thus far to save some space in your luggage. This way, you can bring fewer items to leave room in your suitcase and your wallet!

#9: Plan ahead of packing!

We should have presented this next tip right at the beginning of the article, we know. But it’s never too late to start planning! Just like most things in life, packing for a vacation requires planning, especially if you want to avoid forgetting anything important.

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Before you start packing, save some time to sit down and grab a pen and paper to write down a list of all the items you’ll need in your vacation to stay organized. In case you’ve already started packing, you can still write this list and then simply check if the items you need are in your bag or not!

#10: Wear your heavy clothes on the way!

Another great method to save space in your luggage is by wearing any of the heavy clothing items you may be bringing with you. This is a specially good tip if you’re going to a cold-weather destination — put on your heaviest coat and enjoy it during the flight!

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Just don’t go overboard and pull a Joey, wearing multiple clothing items at once. Lots of people have tried that in real life, and this trick doesn’t always suffice. The most you can get away with is probably wearing two shirts and two thin jackets, or one thick coat over the two shirts!

#11: Pack thin clothes inside large hats!

If you’re traveling to a tropical location, you’ll most likely bring lots of sun hats along with you. These types of hats can be pretty large, thus they’ll take a lot of space in your luggage. Luckily, we’ll show you this great packing hack that will help you greatly if you need to take your hats!

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In case you need to bring large hats in your suitcase, you can save needed space by filling the hat with thin pieces of clothing that will fit easily. Scarves, blouses, socks, and underwear are some of the items you can pack inside hats!

#12: Make a huge bundle of clothes!

Another great tip to pack your clothes when traveling is by thoughtfully creating a huge bundle of clothes. If you’re wondering how in the world you’re supposed to do that, don’t worry — it’s actually pretty simple! Check out this “before and after” picture:

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See how simple that is? All you have to do is place your shirts neatly on top of one another and then fold all of them at the same time. The result will be a single large bundle of clothes with all your shirts, which will then leave more room in your luggage for other items!

#13: Put glass items inside socks!

Maybe it hasn’t happened to you before, but it’s pretty common for glass bottles, like perfume, to break inside your luggage when you’re on the way to your destination. If your suitcase is full, the chances of the glass breaking are even higher. This next tip will certainly help with that!

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If you want to avoid having to deal with broken glass once you arrive at your hotel, but you forgot to buy appropriate cases for glass items, you can simply put them inside socks. This is a simple, low-budget, and efficient way of preventing your perfume bottles from shattering on the way to your destination!

#14: Use cotton pads to protect your compact!

If you wear makeup, you know how easy it is for makeup to be ruined on a trip. Any abrupt movement by the plane or  car can break your compact and make a huge mess in your makeup pouch, resulting in a loss of your products as well.

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A great way of avoiding this nightmare is doing the same thing as in the picture above. Place a cotton pad inside your compact and then close the lid. This way, you’ll prevent your powder from going to the trash while saving yourself from making a huge mess if it does get destroyed on the way!

#15: Follow Marie Kondo’s method!

Have you ever heard about Marie Kondo? This Japanese organizing consultant is a tidying expert and helps people become better organized in their lives. One of her most popular organizing tips includes folding clothes in such an efficient manner that they take very little space inside drawers.

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The good thing is that her clothes-folding tip also works for suitcases. When you’re packing your luggage, you can fold your shirts in the 5 simple steps as shown above: Fold both sides of the shirt across the center. Next, fold the shirt in thirds until it can stand upright. That’s it — now you’ll be able to pack plenty of shirts in your luggage!

#16: Store jewelry in pill cases!

If you’re traveling and just can’t leave behind your precious jewelry, we totally feel you. Jewelry is essential to any outfit, and you can’t think of not bringing them along for a vacation! However, it’s not always easy to transport jewelry without losing or breaking some of it.

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If packing your precious gems starts to trouble you, this tip can be pretty useful, especially if you don’t have any special cases to store your jewelry. The best part about using pill cases as a jewelry box is that you can even sort them by day if you desire!

#17: Store the heavier items at the bottom of the suitcase!

This next tip may sound a bit too obvious, but many people make the mistake of putting lighter items at the bottom of the suitcase. Sometimes, they do it unintentionally, but the harm is already done by the time they realize what has happened.

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To avoid breaking any dainty or lighter items, put all heavy items at the bottom of the luggage. Items such as boots and heavy books, for instance, won’t damage other items if they stay at the bottom — plus, they’ll make your suitcase more balanced, which certainly comes in handy when you’re carrying it around the airport!

#18: Fold your clothes inside out when packing!

Have you ever thought of turning your clothes inside out before packing them? We know it sounds kind of strange, but this is actually a pretty smart tip if you stop to think about it. Are you not sure about what we are trying to convey? Stay tuned!

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You know how sometimes the odds are not in your favor and unfortunate things happen? Let’s say that you get to your hotel and find out that your BB cream bottle burst and made a huge mess inside your luggage. Now, your clothes are history. If only you had folded your clothes inside out, right? This way, only their insides would have gotten dirty! Now you see what we mean?

#19: Fold your pants neatly!

If you wanted a follow-up on Marie Kondo’s shirt-folding method, here it is! The Japanese organizer obviously devised a neat plan for folding jeans and other pants efficiently. The best part about her method is that it is pretty simple to follow and quite helpful!

Image courtesy of New Minimalism

See how easy this is? It’s basically the same method you tried for your shirts, only now you have to apply it to your pants. Just fold them exactly as this cute illustration indicates and you’re good to go! Five simple steps and you’ll have plenty of space in your luggage!

#20: Use the Skivvy Roll method!

Have you ever heard about the Skivvy Roll method? If you’ve ever been in the military or if you know someone who serves in the military, then you probably know what we’re talking about. If not, don’t worry — we’re not discussing anything crazy. We’re talking about one of the best packing methods out there!

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A skivvy roll is a tight bundle that you make using a t-shirt, underwear, and a pair of socks. This picture shows you a step-by-step process to help you do the skivvy roll. If you follow this process, you’ll get to pack more clothes, more underwear, and more socks before you go on your vacation!

#21: Store iron curlers inside oven mitts!

This next tip is not only a great packing hack, but also an amazing housekeeping hack. If you use iron curlers or flat irons, you know how hard it can be to find a neat place to store them, especially if you got rid of the box they came in.

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If you’re going to travel and you possess no appropriate iron curler case, you can always put them inside oven mitts. The equipment goes into the larger portion of the oven mitt, while the cord fits perfectly into the thumb. The best part is that oven mitts are pretty inexpensive, so this tip is certainly worth a try.

#22: Use contacts case to store makeup!

If you’re traveling with makeup products, you know that it can be quite a headache. Makeup falls under the same rules as other liquid and gel products, thus you might not be able to bring all of your makeup in their original bottles.

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Just in case you didn’t buy the appropriate containers to travel with your makeup, or if you simply don’t feel like spending extra money, this particular tip for you. If you have any empty contacts cases at home, use them to store your liquid makeup, as you can see in the picture above!

#23: Buy backpack covers.

If your vacation itinerary includes hitchhiking or mountain climbing, you’ll certainly want to take good care of your backpack. You don’t want it to be soaked in water in case it rains, right? If you buy backpack rain covers, you won’t have to worry about that.

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We know that these covers are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, but that’s beside the point. The only thing that matters is that these covers will keep your backpack protected while you’re on vacation — and that should be one of your top priorities when you’re traveling!

#24: Pack according to your itinerary!

People travel for different reasons. You may be going on a vacation to the beach, or you could be traveling abroad for work exclusively. In both cases, you’ll need to pack according to your itinerary. In the end, you save a lot of space in your luggage.

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For instance, imagine that you’re traveling to Hawaii, mainly for work, but your schedule tells you that you’ll have free time to enjoy the island. In that case, you should pack appropriate clothing, such as bathing suits. Now, if you know for sure that you’ll work for the duration of your trip, save yourself the trouble and only pack work clothes!

#25: Don’t forget your laundry bags!

When we go on vacation, we tend to think only of the positive aspects of traveling. We just want to have fun and live our best lives while on vacation, isn’t that right? The thing is, our excitement can make us forget that there are other, less exciting sides to traveling!

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Dirty laundry is one of these aspects that are often overlooked. When you go on vacation, you’ll probably not have a specific place to wash your clothes. And even if you did, you will be too busy enjoying your free time to think of doing the laundry. That’s why you can’t forget to pack laundry bags. This way you won’t have to worry about where to put your dirty clothes!

#26: Pack some aromatized sheets.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to smell wonderful all the time, planning the perfect vacation can be quite troublesome for you. You’ll probably spend hours trying to think of how you’re going to manage to smell great even on sunny days or how your clothes are going to stay fresh.

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For this case, you can always use fabric softener sheets. These useful (and inexpensive) items work like a dream to keep your clothes smelling like flowers and fresh, even if your flight is 50-hours-long! As for smelling good while enjoying a scorching day, you can always pack body deodorant, right?

#27: Keep bottles well protected.

If you’re bringing any bottles in your luggage, you’re probably wondering how in the world are you going to keep them tightly shut and prevent the contents from spilling out and ruining your possessions. This next tip is quite simple, and will help you a great deal!

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You can prevent a huge and messy event from happening by simply putting plastic wrap atop the bottle, and then screwing the cap back on. Pretty easy, right? The best part about this packing hack is that you can use it in your daily routine as well — you can do this to your coffee cup on the way to work for example!

#28: Use belts to keep button-down shirts looking flawless.

If you’re going on a business trip, you know how hard it can be to keep your button-down shirts from getting all wrinkled up. While you could always try to transport your formal clothing in a fancier way (like we see in the movies), we have an easier solution:

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Yep, that’s right — use your belt to keep the collar of your button-down shirt in tact! This is a simple and efficient method, and it’s even better if you use Marie Kondo’s technique on folding long-sleeved shirts. If you combine both tips, your button-down shirts will remain flawless in your suitcase!

#29: Create cold packs out of frozen sponges!

Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, one thing is for sure; you’ll feel hungry somewhere along the way. And what’s better than a snack during the long journey to your destination? If you want to keep your snacks fresh, cold, and tasty, this next tip will be helpful.

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Are you not feeling like spending money on buying cold packs or are you not allowed to have those on the plane? Worry no more! All you have to do is put a clean (preferably brand new, never-used-before) sponge in the freezer and leave it there overnight. Then, put the sponge inside a plastic bag and zip it. There you have it — your own homemade cold pack!

#30: Use compression bags.

At this point, we’ve shown you multiple methods for packing your clothes in a manner that will help save space. We’ve talked about packing cubes, skivvy rolls, Marie Kondo’s methods, rolling clothes, and more. But we haven’t mentioned an important and useful method: compression bags!

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As its name suggests, a compression bag will remove any extra air, thus making your clothes take up less space. If you do a skivvy roll with one t-shirt, a pair of boxers, and a pair of socks, and then put it inside a compression bag, you’ll make extra space for more skivvy rolls!

#31: Use straws to keep your jewelry intact.

If you’re into wearing necklaces, you know how annoying it is when they get all tangled up in knots. It’s really bothersome and time consuming having to untangle necklaces and bracelets when you’re about to go out, and it’s even worse when you have to do it while on vacation!

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A great way to avoid necklace knots is by using straws to keep them from getting tangled. All you have to do is string your necklace through the plastic straw and then clasp it as if you were putting it around your neck. And you can always use renewable and biodegradable straws to do this!

#32: Keep all your bottles in one place.

We’ve been discussing liquids spilling all over your luggage quite a lot, haven’t we? Well, that’s because this possibility is very real and happens all the time! We’ve also been giving you tips on how to prevent that from happening to you, so here’s one more:

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When you’re packing your bags, try to keep all the liquid bottles in one single place. If you have a pouch, put them all inside it. However, if you use a zip lock bag, the chances of any liquid spilling onto your clothes will be much lower!

#33: Store items inside cloth bags.

In case you’re not down to buy packing cubes or compression bags, there’s another alternative for you. Do you know those cloth bags that oftentimes come with a variety of different items when you purchase them? You can use them when packing your bags too!

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You can even try to combine different packing methods and make the most of your tips! Do a bunch of skivvy rolls and put them all inside a cloth bag. Or make a mega bundle with your shirts and use a cloth bag to store them. There are many options available to help you save space in your luggage — you just have to choose wisely!

#34: Get a luggage scale!

You didn’t think we had completely forgotten to mention weight limits, did you? Because we assure you that we haven’t! This tip is essential for all the readers who tend to pack more items than necessary when going on a vacation.

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Buy. A. Luggage. Scale! This small and inexpensive item is virtually a lifesaver when it comes to traveling. Instead of constantly worrying if your bag is heavier than the maximum weight limit for your particular airline, you can simply keep checking its weight with a luggage scale. 

#35: Pack everything you want…and then cut it in half! 

Wouldn’t it be a dream if we could bring everything we wanted on vacation? We would be able to bring all of our favorite outfits that we just couldn’t decide on, our cute shoes, and all of our makeup products. Well, that’s all it is — a beautiful dream.

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Unfortunately, we have to comply with luggage weight rules and we want to refrain from spending extra money just to carry multiple bags. If you’re having issues keeping your bags light and packing only necessary stuff, here’s a great tip for you: pack everything you want and then get rid of half of the things you packed. This way, you’ll only have essential items in your luggage!

#36: Pack a first-aid kit!

Another thing that we haven’t mentioned that should not be forgotten is a first-aid kit. No matter where you’re traveling to, it’s always essential to bring a first-aid kit along, especially if you are traveling with children! Also, you never know when you’re going to have a headache, after all!

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When packing a first-aid kit, make sure to visit the official website of the location you’re going to. Check which medications are allowed to enter the country and which ones are forbidden. Keep in mind that not all countries accept the same medications as your country!

#37: Buy plug adapters.

Speaking of different countries, there is one more thing you need to pay attention to if you’re traveling abroad: outlet types. Different countries have different plugs. Don’t forget that. And to give you a heads up, in some cases, they also have different voltages as well! 

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If you live in the United States and you’re traveling to Europe or South America, you’ll find that these countries run on different voltages and their plugs are different. Europe uses the Type C plug, while South American countries use multiple different plugs, ranging from Type C plugs to Type J plugs.

#38: Keep all valuables in a handbag.

You’ve probably heard stories of friends who traveled abroad (or within their own country), and had their belongings stolen during their vacation. While this unfortunate event sometimes can’t be helped, there are some things you can do to prevent having this happen to you.

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The tip we offer is quite simple: keep all your valuables in a handbag that you’re going to have on you at all times. When we say “valuables”, we don’t only mean money, but also documents and other important items. An additional tip is to buy a wallet chain. They keep your wallet safe, plus they’re coming back in style!

#39: Don’t bring towels.

Whether you’re staying in an Airbnb or hotel, there are some things you’ll find readily available once you arrive at your destination. We’re talking about toiletries and towels! It’s extremely rare to stay at a hotel that doesn’t offer either or any of these items, right?

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Even if you’re staying at a friend’s house during your vacation, they’ll probably offer you clean towels! What we mean to tell you is there’s no need to use your bag’s precious space to store towels if you’re probably going to have towels readily available. And if you don’t, you can always buy a towel — they’re not that expensive!

#40: Pack a portable charger!

If you have an iPhone, you know how easily the battery dies after you’ve used it for some time. Can you imagine being at a breathtakingly beautiful place and not being able to take pictures of it? If you don’t want this to happen, you have to follow this tip.

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Don’t forget to pack your portable charger, or buy one in case you don’t have one of those. Portable chargers will help you greatly when you’re on vacation when you have no outlets near to charge your phone. Plus, they’re not that large, so they won’t take up much space in your bag. They’re not expensive either. 

#41: Grab a “fragile” tag!

Now, we’re going to tell you a great tip that you may not have heard about yet. Did you know that when you’re traveling by plane, you can request a “fragile” tag at the airport and put it on your luggage? Not sure why you would do that? We’ll explain!

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According to travel experts, if your luggage is tagged as “fragile”, airport staff will transport your bag with more care, making you more confident that your luggage is protected. But, that’s not all there is to a “fragile” tag. Apparently, bags that are marked “fragile” are the first ones to come out at the baggage carousel. This means that you won’t have to wait as long to leave the airport!

#42: Check your friend’s luggage for space!

If you’re traveling with your partner or with a friend, there’s another alternative for you to pack more of your stuff to bring on vacation. Lots of people are minimalists, right? In case your partner or travel buddy is one of those people, you can check their luggage for space!

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Have you ever packed so much stuff that your suitcase barely zips shut? Is your travel partner packing fewer items than you and their luggage can still fit another pair of shoes or a few more clothes? There’s no shame in asking them to put some of your stuff in their luggage!

#43: Print a copy of your documents and pack them.

We’ve already recommended that you keep all your valuables in a handbag that you’ll carry around at all times, right? But what if something happens to that handbag and you lose your documents? Don’t forget to always have a copy when traveling!

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In this case, the backup plan is to print a copy of all your documents and keep them in your luggage or in the place you are staying. This includes your passport! This way, you’ll still have a copy of your documents in case anything happens. 

#44: Bring your Kindle!

Are you an avid reader and can’t wait to get to your destination so that you can relax and read that book you’ve been dying to dive into? Packing books is always an issue because, depending on their size, they’ll end up taking a lot of space in your luggage or carry-on.

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We know that the “hardcover book vs. e-book” debate is real, and we know that some people just can’t stand reading from an electronic device. If that’s your case, try to keep in mind that packing a Kindle in your bag means you can bring as many books as you want on vacation without taking precious space in your luggage!

#45: Don’t forget to pack a power strip!

Lastly, but certainly not least, don’t forget to pack a power strip! No matter where you’re traveling, there are high chances that there won’t be enough plugs available for your devices. Whether you’re traveling alone or with friends or family, you’ll certainly need a power strip.

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Say that you’re alone in the hotel or Airbnb, and your phone, laptop, and iPad run out of battery at the same time. There’s only one outlet available — what should you do if you can’t pick one of the three devices? If only you had packed a power strip with multiple outlets!