Ugh, packing… The worst thing about traveling, but a necessary evil. I would like to say that over the years of traveling I have perfected the art of packing the right amount of clothes – never too little, never too much. But I can’t. I am still a helpless overpacker and yet manage to leave home without such important items as my toothbrush or travel adapter all the time.

Some might be able to pack in 30 minutes, but my approach to packing in order to make sure I’ve got everything I need takes a little longer than that. After years of traveling I might not be a flawless packer, but I’ve got some pretty neat packing hacks that make it easier every single time!

Here are 10 secrets that help you pack like a pro.

Packing is probably our least favorite thing about travel - but here are 10 packing tips that will help you packing like a pro!

1) The perfect bag

The top priority for successful packing is to find the perfect bag for you. Do you want a bag small enough to fit as carry-on or would you rather check a bag when you fly and have the luxury to fit much more stuff? Suitcase, weekender or backpack? Top- or front-loader? There is no one correct answer and there is a perfect bag for every person out there.

I have several travel bags and chose a different one (almost) every time according to my needs. For longer trips with more luggage and comfortable transportation, I travel with my Delsey suitcase, for shorter business trips I take my trusted carry-on suitcase. For backpacking trips I used to rely on my 45+10L Deuter top loader*, which fits everything I needed for a three-week joint around Costa Rica but is also a great day/weekend bag for hikes in colder climates. However, recently I got my hands on a 45L Pacsafe travel pack*, which opens like a suitcase but can be worn as a backpack. In addition it has built-in security features and looks sleek enough even if I travel for business or university. I’ve only traveled with it once so far, and am already in love!

2) Packing cubes

Another revelation I have had just recently is the advantage of using packing cubes. There are many arguments against them - they take up extra space, they add weight, and why don’t you just use plastic or ziplock bags instead bags? – I used to think that too. I was part of team plastic bag for a very long time, but ever since I started using Pro Packing Cubes* my way to pack has changed entirely.

Not only is it neater to fold your clothes inside the packing cubes, than it is to stuff them into plastic bags, I can also access them faster and the cubes’ shapes lend themselves to playing Tetris with them in my bag. The cubes are super lightweight, have mesh details so you can easily compress them, and they are well-sized for clothes, accessories and shoes. Plus, they’re really affordable!

Packing is probably our least favorite thing about travel - but here are 10 packing tips that will help you packing like a pro!

3) Ziplock bags

Packing cubes aside, I still travel with ziplock bags to store miscellaneous items such as toiletries, cables and other things I want to keep separate from my clothes.

4) Solid bathroom products

I basically use these year-round, but if you don’t, stock up on solid bathroom products like bars of shampoo, soap and conditioner, powdered deodorant, toothpaste tablets etc. Not only do they safe space, but they also free up space in your liquids bag for the really important things (like sun lotion)!

Packing is probably our least favorite thing about travel - but here are 10 packing tips that will help you packing like a pro!

I swear by solid shampoo bars by Lush and regularly stock up on vegan soaps at local markets.

5) Lay out everything you want to take – pack only half.

It’s brutal, but necessary. And always enough.

6) Pack in outfits and colour schemes

You should be able to mix and match your wardrobe in a variety of ways, and use every single item in multiple outfits!

Packing is probably our least favorite thing about travel - but here are 10 packing tips that will help you packing like a pro!

Me while cruising the Galapagos Islands in 2015. Of course I had forgotten to take a hat, but used my scarf to protect my scalp from the equatorial summer heat!

7) Multi-purpose items

Bring items you can use in multiple ways, such as silk scarfs (can be worn around your neck, as belt or on your head, or serve as a pillow on long bus rides) or sandals with interchangeable accents* so they can fit boho as well as classy outfits.

8) Find the best folding technique for you

Forget rolling – fold KonMari style! The idea is that every piece of clothing is folded in a way that it stands upright. It saves space, but most importantly declutters your packing cubes.

Souvenir shopping at its best in India & Ecuador.

9) Leave space for souvenirs

Depending on where you go, you might want to pick up some special foods, local arts and crafts or even just some new clothes to take that holiday feeling all the way back home. Make sure you leave some space!

10) Take your time

With a lot of practice you might get confident enough to pack the day you’re leaving for your trip, but if you’re a notorious overpacker, taking your time and really considering what to bring and what to leave behind is key!

We collect our favourite packing tips on our Pinterest board just in case you need some more concrete information on how to dress in certain countries or packing lists for trips of various durations.

What are your top packing tips?

* The links marked with an asterisk indicate affiliate links.

This is a post by Kathi Kamleitner.

Kathi Kamleitner was a regular contributor at Travelettes from 2013 to 2019. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she packed her backpack to travel the world and lived in Denmark, Iceland and Berlin, before settling in Glasgow, Scotland. Kathi is always preparing her next trip – documenting her every step with her camera, pen and phone.

In 2016, Kathi founded Scotland travel blog to share her love for her new home, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, island hopping and vegan food. Follow her adventures on Instagram @watchmesee!