When you’re on the go, and working with limited space in your luggage, you gotta get creative when it comes down to what (and how) you pack!
There are quite a few travel hacks that we recommend to make your life a bit easier when you’re on vacation! Here are 15 of our favorite (and possibly life changing) travel hacks to simplify packing for your next adventure!
If you travel with just carry-on luggage like I do, you’re limited to a small quart size bag to stow away all liquids (at least when traveling in the United States). While you can pick up one of those free sample vials of perfume or cologne from a beauty counter at the mall, you’re actually better off ripping out perfume samples from a magazine and cutting them up into smaller squares and packing those. You’ll leave more space in your quart size bag for more important liquids and you can toss the perfume/cologne square when you’re done.
2. Dry Shampoo
If you don’t want to pack a full spray in your luggage, make your own dry shampoo. This comes in handy if you don’t have a lot of time to spare to wash, dry, or style your hair. Just mix up a jar of cornstarch with a few drops of essential oils for a refreshing scent and apply with a travel sized kabuki face makeup brush to your roots. Apply at night before you go to sleep, first thing in the morning, or a few hours before you head out on the town so it has adequate time to absorb excess oils. In general, it isn’t great to wash your hair daily anyway, so this is a great real life hack as well.
3. Combo makeup items
Some of my favorite travel beauty items are combination beauty items that work as an all-in-one alternative to bringing a ton of separate products. For example a lipstick/lip gloss (like my discontinued Pixi Succulent Lip Twin - which I also used as blush), or eyeshadow/eyeliner, etc. Consider buying a BB or CC cream instead of bringing foundation and a moisturizer. If you’re in a pinch, you can use lipstick as a blush, and you can use wet/dry eye makeup as both an eye shadow and an eyeliner if you have the right brushes.
If you���re going to bring a hair dryer, curling iron, or flat iron with you, you should also bring a potholder. Since you may not have time to let your straightener properly cool down before you pack everything up to head to your next stop, use a potholder to keep the heat in. Take a potholder and sew it the two sides together to create a pocket which you can hold one of these devices in when you’re on the move.
5. Bring an empty water bottle everywhere
As I'm sure you're very aware by now, you can’t bring in a bottle of water through the security screening at the airport, but you can go through with an empty bottle. Whether you bring a simple disposable plastic bottle or a fancier reusable water bottle, the concept is the same. Refill it once you've passed security at a water fountain. If you’re out and about, you should find plenty of water fountains in popular tourist areas. In Europe, you’ll often find they resemble statues or sculptures, which can make spotting them half the fun. If water safety is an issue, there are water bottles that can filter contaminated water as you drink!
6. Coconut oil
This miraculous stuff is a great hack for a multitude of travel functions. I use it as lotion, makeup remover, conditioner for the ends of my hair, etc. It also makes you smell AMAZING. But then again, I’m a sucker for tropical scents. So if you’re tight on space, I recommend bringing a bottle of coconut oil along with you to replace all these other items. For those of you super crafty people, you can also create an all-natural sunscreen using coconut oil and a few other natural products. Natural sunscreens are great if you are planning to do some snorkeling through coral reefs. Most sunscreens have chemicals that actually damage and bleach coral reefs, so it is important to wear a sunscreen that doesn’t use any of these harmful ingredients.
7. Binder clips for everything
If you don’t have that tiny clear plastic blade protector that came with your razor, there is a great alternative solution! Instead of buying one of those bulky razor cases (I’m totally guilty of owning one), bring along a binder clip and clip it over the blade. This way you don’t accidentally slice your finger open while rummaging through your stuff. Binder clips can actually come incredibly handy while traveling.
Other uses for binder clips:
- Clip those pesky curtains in your hotel room that keep opening up and letting in that ghastly light.
- Use as a money clip
- Chip clip when you want to save your snack for later
- Prop up your phone for some movie watching
- Use it to hang up a wet bathing suit...or really anything!
8. Alternative carrying cases
Pinterest is full of interesting travel hack ideas. Browse, but don't get too carried away. Test these out before you go so you know which ones will help you versus hinder you. Some of my favorites include:
- Contact lens cases - Use to store creams, makeup, and lotions so you don’t have to pack the full-size product
- Old medicine bottles - Use to store your mini first aid kit with bandages, cotton swabs, etc.
- Glasses case - Store all your cords, earbuds, chargers, etc.
- Tic Tac container - That plastic box is actually the perfect size for all your loose bobby pins.
- Mint container - Finish all your Ice Breakers mints? Use that round container to hold your earbuds so they don’t get tangled up or stepped on.
- Lip balm containers - If you can manage to hold onto a tube of lip balm until you’ve run out of balm, save it! As much as you're going to want to frame it or display it like a trophy since you didn't lose it...(because let's be honest, how many times in your life has this actually happened?)...instead, use it to hold rolled up cash or other valuables. It can be a great backup in case your wallet is stolen. It fits just about everywhere and is very inconspicuous.
9. Dryer sheets
If you’re traveling for a couple weeks and don’t have time to wash and dry your clothes, but don’t want your dirty clothes to stink up your entire bag, bring along some dryer sheets. Place them with your dirty clothes to keep your bag smelling fresh.
10. Foldable jacket/travel bag
A jacket will take up most of your luggage space if you don’t wear it, so make sure to pack something lightweight (but warm) and most importantly...can pack down to virtually nothing. On a recent trip to San Francisco, when the weather got a little cooler, my friend pulled a small bag out of her purse, which contained her UNIQLO Ultra Light Down Jacket. I was in awe that such a warm looking jacket was able to fit in her normal sized purse. When the sun came out and she didn’t have use for the jacket anymore, she stuffed it back down into a bag not much larger than my hand.
Another must have item is a small foldable travel bag that you can carry with you at all times, just in case you want to buy something and run out of room in your purse or bag.
11. Plastic wrap
The last thing you want to see when unpacking your luggage is an explosion of shampoo all over your belongings. Use plastic wrap underneath the top of all your liquids and gels so that if the air pressure gets to be too much, you’ll have an added level of safety.
12. Hidden USB charging ports
You won’t find this everywhere, but many newer TVs will have USB ports where you can plug in your cable to charge your phone or other devices. Check your hotel room to see if your TV has this feature. If so, you can free up an outlet for something else.
13. Jewelry hacks
The worst part about traveling with jewelry is that chains get tangled and earrings mysteriously go missing. There are several ways to keep your jewelry organized.
- Straws - Put one end of your necklace chain through a drinking straw and then clasp the ends together as usual. This will keep the chain from tangling.
- Pill containers - Those daily pill separators can actually double as a jewelry organizer. This can also help you plan your jewelry look by the day.
- Buttons - Don’t lose another earring again! Use button holes to secure your stud earrings. I recommend tying them all together with thread so you don’t lose the buttons themselves.
- Press and Seal Food Wrap - Glad’s Press and Seal product may have been designed to keep your food fresh, but instead, use it to keep your jewelry tangle-free. Simply lay down your necklaces and seal them into place between two sheets.
14. Shower cap
Not only can you use this to keep you hair from getting wet, but it can also keep your dirty shoes from getting all over the rest of your clean clothes in your luggage. Bring several, especially if you plan on using them for both your shoes and shower because you definitely don’t want to be using the same one for both functions.
15. Use what you have!
Let your luggage speak to you! Are you packing a collared shirt? Are you also packing a belt? Roll that belt up and stick it in the collar opening of your shirt to keep the collar stiff.
Have something breakable or squishable? Stuff it in your boots/shoes for extra security. Did you buy a bottle of wine on your trip? Wrap it up in your clothes so it doesn’t break during transport.
What is your lifesaving travel hack?
Share it with your fellow Venuelusters in the comments below!
And for other great packing tips and lists be sure to follow our Venuelust blog.