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There are as many packing strategies as there are humans traveling. (For the record, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals in 2018.)
Some minimalists pack light, some travelers bring absolutely everything under the sun, and most are somewhere in between. Whatever your school of thought on how to pack a suitcase, make the process easier with a few well-designed accessories.
When you pack for vacation, consider relying on some of these favorite packing aids.
The best packing cubes come in many styles from many sources, but the basic idea is to use them to keep things sorted and tidy when pawing through your suitcase. The cubes function like drawers back home, keeping like items together. You can put rolled t-shirts in one, socks in another, gloves and scarves in a third. They can also hold the random non-clothing gear which tends to clutter luggage. Packing cube sets are available in different sizes and fabrics, and also in compression versions to enable you to squeeze in that much more. Once stuffed, they’re easy to arrange in a suitcase.
Have you ever slung your purse or backpack over your chair, only to discover it slid off when you weren’t looking, and now it's covered in grime from the floor or sidewalk? That’s the sad scenario this small and handy device prevents. Carry one around in your bag and simply pop it out and onto the table. The weight of your bag holds it in place while hanging on the hook. Plus side? These come in all shapes and colors and you can choose a pattern or design to match any mood or bag.
These are basically ziplock bags on steroids, with one-way valves to let the air out. Place your folded clothes in the bag, roll it tightly to squeeze eliminate air, and discover your stack of clothing now fits in about one-third the space. Win!
Squeezing one of these lightweight bags into your suitcase can be a lifesaver later on your trip. Use it for sightseeing, or for keeping your things corralled as you ride a bus or attend a festival. Fill it with souvenirs and check it as an extra bag on the way home.
Favorite travel organizers vary depending on a person’s organizational style. The uber-orderly love packing cubes, the over-packers rely on compression cubes or bags to squeeze more in, the sporty need waterproof bags for swimsuits and sports gear, the secret archivists need to file every ticket and pamphlet, the super-techy have a tangle of cords, cables, and plugs to master.
Your type of trip also has a big impact on packing choices. One lauded virtue of cruises: you only unpack once, whereas on a fast-paced tour you may be checking into a new hotel every night. When hiking, skiing, kayaking or beaching are on the agenda, these activities impact your packing list, too. Packing lists for business travel will be different from leisure travel.
Check out our handy packing list with detailed suggestions. We’ve also got a useful list for non-clothing items, and suggestions for clothing with hidden security features.
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Email Sign-up Travel Credit: Receive a $125 per person ($250 per couple) discount toward your first tour (operated by Trafalgar or Insight Vacations) when you sign up for GET emails; valid for each full-paying adult who signs up with a unique email address. Valid for new bookings only made through December 31, 2023 for travel through December 31, 2023; full payment is due within three days of booking. Discount is not combinable with any other discount or offer, including our GETAWAY Deals, Limited Time Offers, AARP member discount, Past Traveler discount or Multiple Trip discounts. Offer cannot be booked online. Savings not valid on all itineraries and/or departure dates, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Offer excludes Edinburgh Tattoo and Floriade departures. GET reserves the right to validate bookings and will remove any additional offers added online that are not combinable. Other conditions may apply.