Jul 24, 2023

31 Packing Tips To Help You Avoid Checking A Bag

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That saved checked bag fee is at least $30 towards your vacation fund.

BuzzFeed Staff

Navigate by the airline(s) you regularly fly, and Amazon will weed out the options that won't fit into the overhead bins. Now you can really *maximize* your size based on the airlines you fly most often.

This one checks all the boxes: super roomy, zips completely open (like a suitcase — so it's easy to find what you need), has plenty of pockets (including one for shoes and a separate wet bag!), and a strap that slides down over your luggage handle for easy transport. And reviewers say it meets even Spirit and JetBlue's personal item rules and fits under airplane seats!

Get it from Amazon for $52.99 (available in 21 colors and styles).

Promising review: "I bought this backpack for work. It's the BEST backpack I've ever used. I needed one with several pockets and not too big or heavy. I found that with this backpack, I can fill it and still have room! There's even a shoe and clothing compartment for traveling! The straps are just wide enough to stay on your shoulders especially with the snap straps in front. I also love the color, and it's true to the picture color. If you're looking for lightweight with tons of pockets, this is what you need!" —Kelly Miller

Promising review: "This is a perfect size backpack for traveling on a plane as your personal item, especially to international destinations. You could fit rolled-up clothes in here for another week, and it has a very handy shoe bag and tons of places for your electronics. This will be an excellent addition to my carry-on suitcase. Best purchase all year. I consider myself an expert on travel bags. I have way too many. It's smaller than it looks but so roomy." —AP

The amount of extra undies I bring on trips...why?!

Get this handy notepad from Amazon for $7 (Knock Knock makes tons of handy notepads, several of which are in the same listing).

Promising review: "I just used this for a recent trip to Florida from California. It made it easier to remember things. I used to have a list, that I made, on my computer to remind me, my husband, and child what to pack. My daughter is out on her own now and my husband passed away recently. So, I just need a list for me. This helped me think of things I NEVER thought to put on my list. It has extra lines for you to add anything extra like crochet project, handicapped parking plaque, etc. It's not too big, but can easily be read. There are boxes to check off as you go and room to add quantity to clothing items. I hope these are ALWAYS available!" —Connie Woods

It gives you the seasonal average weather for that date and location so you can plan your outfits (or what you might need to buy) before the actual forecast is available closer to your trip. You can also look at *past* years for the same info! I always use this to plan the kind of things I need to bring when I travel...far in advance!

Get it from the Apple app store for $3.99 or through Google Play for free (with in-app purchases).

Get this one from Amazon for $28.99+ (available in sizes XS–3X and 25 colors).

Promising review: "Lightweight, water resistant, perfect for traveling! I bought this to wear in Iceland. It rolls up and goes into a little pouch, which makes it easier to carry. It kept me nice and dry when I was walking the rainy, misty streets of Iceland as well as the many waterfalls I visited. I highly recommend." —Karin M. Dixey

There are tonnnnns of packable puffer coat options for colder weather in men's and women's styles on Amazon too!

The military-style roll is basically like the regular roll, but taken to ~the next level~. "Clown car" is all about ~stacking~ before folding and tucking.

And if you like a classic fold but have a hard time seeing everything in your suitcase, the front-to-back style is a good option. It's also *great* for storing tees in your drawers at home so you can see what's what.

Check out more carry-on tips at One Good Thing By Jillee.

You can use zip-top bags, as pictured above, packing cubes, or whatever else you have around the house.

It comes with a laundry bag to separate your dirty clothes on your way back, and the cubes have mesh tops so you can see what's inside!

Get the set of six pictured above from Amazon for $23.99 (available in 10 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "These packing cubes exceeded my expectations!!!! I was able to pack for a seven-day cruise: seven day outfits, seven evening dresses, six swimsuits and six swim cover-ups. Along with 10 pairs of undergarments, four PJ sets, and three bras. It was wild. I highly recommend! I used a Vera Bradley weekend tote to fit my packing cubes and then a separate bag for shoes, toiletries, etc. worked perfectly! Very happy with my purchase." —Elias Zuloaga

::Cough, me studying abroad, cough::

Get a pack of eight from Amazon for $20.95 (also available in a 16-pack).

Promising review: "These were life savers! We took a 10-day trip to Europe and were able to pack only in a carry-on using these! I used two medium in my carry on and my husband used three in his carry on. I packed all my undergarments, five dresses, four pairs of jeans, multiple blouses, three pairs of shorts, and a few other pieces of clothing. And still has room for my shoes. These will definitely be used each time we travel now. Well worth it." —Amazon Customer

I did this on a trip to Greece, and my wide-brim sun hat got there and back without a single crease!

Learn more at Collective Gen.

The magnetic clip securely attaches to your hat brim (damage-free) — just hook the gold hexagonal clip around the strap/holder of your choosing!

Promising review: "LOVE LOVE LOVE my TOPTOTE. As a frequent hat wearer I was always having to figure out how to travel with my hat without holding it and then inevitably forgetting it somewhere. This has solved my problem! Great design, high quality, functional AND cute. I have one on every bag. Can't get enough! Also great for bike riding and/or unexpected wind. :)" —ChefYJ

Get it from Nordstrom for $55 (also available in white and red). There are also even more cute styles on the Lindsay Albanese site.

Lindsay Albanese is a woman-owned small biz btw!

Then you can pack your shoes inside shoe bags (like I do) to keep the dirty soles away from your clothes, or just pop on a shower cap, like pictured here!

Get a pack of four drawstring shoe bags (they're clear tops so you can see which pair is which) for $15.99 at Amazon.

Get more inspiration at Extra Petite.

Another tip? Pull out all the clothes you want to bring, then put one-third of them away — you probably won't need 'em!

Get the one pictured above from Amazon for $34.95 (available in eight colors).

Promising review: "Great water bottle for travel. It is durable, compact when not in use, and versatile. One of the main reasons I like this collapsible bottle over others is the sliding band on it. It allows you to hold it firmly without squeezing the bottle and squirting the contents out of the top and all over the place. I bought mine and a friend liked it so much, she bought one." —Vivian

This one is customizable with foil lettering in silver, rose gold, or gold — you can add an initial, monogram, or your name! Just select the "add your personalization" drop-down and your color choice and desired lettering.

Get this one from Made in Rose on Etsy for $22.05+ (available in eight colors, with or without the lettering).

Promising review: "Even cuter in person! Ordered because I needed a smaller jewelry box for travel and this is the perfect size! Cannot wait to already use it! Will definitely be ordering for future gifts :)" —Hannah Peterson

Made in Rose is a New York–based small business offering a variety of velvet cases, ring boxes, and more — all with customizable options.

And it's machine washable, so key!

Get it from Amazon for $44.99 (available in four colors).

Promising review: "I can't stop recommending this pillow to all of my friends! It has let me comfortably sleep on flights that take place on the most uncomfortable airplane seats. On long flights, I always need to prop up my hand, and I rest my head on it. But this method always ends with my arm falling asleep, and I end up waking up every 30 minutes. Now, this pillow provides that exact same support without needing my arms to prop me up! It's small enough to fit in your bag and doesn't take up much space." —Simona Krifman

No more holding up the security line triple-checking to see if you still have your passport. Just a touch of first-class style, at an economy price. It's made of RFID-blocking material, too.

Get the one pictured above from Amazon for $13.99 (available in 36 colors).

Promising review: "I absolutely love this wallet. I needed a new travel wallet, and this holds everything I need all in one place, and it still closes nicely and stays flat! Boarding pass, passport, ID and credit cards, money, checked baggage tickets, receipts, etc.! Yet it doesn't bulk up or look like an overstuffed mess. Just amazing. The description says it only holds US money, but I just used the boarding pass flap to hold all my Japanese Yen (¥), which are larger. I didn't use the zippered pocket for coins as I much prefer a separate coin purse for that sort of thing. I definitely recommend to anyone who travels a lot!" —Anthony Luu

Get the set of four bottles and two jars pictured above from Amazon for $8.99+ (available in nine colors and in other sets).

Promising review: "I've taken these on about five trips so far. They've endured air pressure and altitude changes from flying and have spent quality time in a hot car. Not even a hint of a leak so far — I love it. These are soft, durable, and seal well. They were easy to fill, as the mouths are relatively wide. They dispense well, although I've yet to test them on something with an extremely thin consistency. So far, I've filled them with lotion, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, and hair gel. Would buy again." —Ahvienda Kotura

Learn more at The Beauty Department.

It has a swiveling, tangle-free cord, too.

Get it from Amazon for $47.99 (also available in white).

Promising review: "I bought this for a trip to Italy, as I didn't have a dual-voltage iron (and you can't just use a converter-adapter combination with things that heat up). I liked that it was a flat iron and curling iron combo, so I could change things up as I desired. It worked beautifully on our trip — I look nice in all my selfies ;) — and continues to work beautifully at home. In fact, I've replaced my old flat iron with this because of the versatility and now use this one every day. BTW, in case you are wondering, it automatically switches to the appropriate voltage, no looking for a switch or anything. You don't need to do anything but plug it in! Great product!" —Diane Field

This one features 20 non-looping sounds and a timer for auto-shutoff — plus, it weighs less than half a pound!

Get it from Amazon for $21.99.

Promising review: "Wonderful sound machine. Compact enough for travel. We took ours on vacation and are so glad we did. This drowns out hotel noises perfectly! I like how small it is when on my dresser at home, too. So thankful for the non-looping sound. Would recommend over and over again." —Hill.jess

Shop Delsey luggage like the one pictured here on Amazon.

Hot take: As long as you have SOCKS ON (I highly recommend these compression socks, $8.99+ on Amazon, for long flights), and you don't naturally have a super-aggressive foot odor (I'm sorry!), it's 100% OK to take your shoes off on a long international flight.

Btw, you can get the chunky sneakers pictured above from Amazon for $20.64+ (available in women's sizes 5.5–8.5 and in beige).

Get this one from Amazon for $16.89 (available in 34 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "I purchased this wrap so that I could use it as a blanket on the airplane and also use it as a fashion scarf on my travels. I've gotten many compliments on it and absolutely love it! Definitely one of my travel essentials now. I've also washed it a couple of times now and it's still in great shape." —C. Behrends

This one folds into a teensy pouch when not in use, is tear- and water-resistant, and even has a separate side pocket for shoes. Aaaaand it has a strap on the side that slides easily over your roller luggage handle.

Just keep it in your regular suitcase between trips, and you'll never forget it. Fold-up duffels like these are my GO-TO when going on a vacation I know will be shopping heavy. And then you can bring your new finds on the plane to ensure they don't get lost (it's 20 inches, making it perfect for the overhead compartment).

Get it from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in 25 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "We bought this to take with us when we visited our daughter who is studying abroad for four months. We figured she would not have enough room in her luggage when it was time to come home. Folded up, this bag was so compact and lightweight it took up almost no room in our own luggage for the trip over. Then, sure enough, she had a ton of clothes and shoes to send home with us and packed this bag full. We checked the bag and it made it through two international flights without a scratch. The BEST feature is the side strap that allows you to slide it over the handle of a rolling suitcase so you don't have to carry it. This is probably the most practical and the best-value item I have purchased in years." —Tosa Mom

Just stuff them in and squeeze to release the extra air!

Get this cute map-print one from Amazon for $8 (also available in an airplane print).

Promising review: "As a frequent traveler, this bag has been great for packing dirty laundry on the return trip home. It will hold much more than I usually put in it and compresses nicely in the suitcase. I toss it in the washer along with the clothes and it has held up for well over a year now." —CC

The stroller is supposed to fit kids from 6 months up to 55 pounds (approx. 5 years).

Get it from Amazon for $279.95.

Promising review: "This stroller is great! So cool looking, too. I constantly have moms coming up to me asking where I got this! So easy to fold, so light, and barely takes any space in my trunk. We took it on a flight, and the flight attendants recognized the stroller and told me that I can just wheel the baby on and put the stroller in the overhead bin. I wish I had gotten this stroller with my oldest, but I was being cheap. This stroller is so worth the money. I regret not getting it sooner! But at least my youngest can enjoy it." —Nai Len

Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.