1. Roll your clothes instead of folding
This is a common tactic employed by the most seasoned travelers - rolling your clothes is superior to the standard fold. Not only do you save room, but the clothes are less likely to wrinkle and they tend to form a 'flatter' surface to stack other items on. The only exceptions are heavy fabrics such as denim and wool - these are far more likely to roll up to unwieldy sizes, and you'll want to stick with a fold here.
2. Invest in packing cubes
The name 'cube' is a bit misleading, since packing cubes resemble rectangular pouches are designed for portability and organization. Having dedicated cubes allows you to easily pull out the shirts bag, for example, without rifling through your suitcase. The packing cubes offered by Eagle Creek are favorites with seasoned vacationers.
3. Make ample use of Ziploc bags
Ziploc bags have proven their worth time and time again for many a traveler. Any material that might leak, ooze or explode in a rough flight should definitely be sealed away inside a bag. It'll protect your clothes, keep things cleaner and you'll be far less likely to lose that tube of toothpaste of bottle of sunblock among all of your things.
4. Downsize toiletries
Picking up some of must-bring items in smaller sizes saves you a great deal of space. Instead of bringing one shampoo bottle for the whole family, everyone can tuck one miniature bottle away in their suitcase for use as needed. Travel-size toiletries also have the benefit of being able to be immediately disposed of upon use, which can save you some much-needed space on the trip home. Can't find your favorites in miniature sizes? Buy some small plastic bottles and divvy them up yourself!
5. Coordinate your outfits around your shoes
This might sound like a tip straight out of a fashion magazine, but it really can help save some space while traveling. The absolute maximum amount of shoes you should carry is three, and prepare to wear your bulkiest pair while on the plane or in the car. Make sure any other pairs are fairly neutral and work with the clothes you bring. Also, remember that flip-flops can be picked up very inexpensively for a few dollars at drugstore or supermarket when you reach your destination.
6. Maximize space by utilizing your shoes
Believe it or not, quite a bit can be stashed away inside the sneakers you packed. Consider rolling up jewelry or accessories in socks and bundling them away in your shoes. Loose pairs of socks, underwear and smaller garments can also fit inside shoes. It's an unconventional tip, but many cunning vacationers have capitalized on that precious shoe space!
7. Bring along some tissue paper
Rolling your clothes with a piece of tissue paper added is a time-honored tradition to help avoid wrinkles in silkier, slinkier and thinner fabrics. Since it doesn't take up much room, it doesn't hurt to bring along a few extra pieces to help pad any fragile, breakable souvenirs you might find yourself bringing home.
8. Position heavy items wisely
Heavier items like shoes should be positioned near the wheels of your suitcase. This helps prevent the suitcase from tipping over, and makes for a smoother roll through the airport, resort or wherever your vacation takes you. If you're carrying a backpack on a road trip or as a carryon, balance the weight but putting heavier items near the top and middle - it'll make the backpack feel a bit less heavy.
9. Use rubber bands to secure gadget cords
Let's face it - there's no way we can travel without all of our tech! Chargers, USB cables, headphones... Wind them into a circle and use a rubber band to cinch up the middle - it'll minimize mess and tangle and make picking out the cord you need much easier. For extra organization, consider stowing then all away in a small container like a spare glasses case.
10. Pack a bottle of wrinkle releaser
For all your rolling and clever usage of tissue paper, there will always inevitably be that one difficult piece that just has to wrinkle. You can save the headache of messing around with ironing boards by stashing a bottle of spray wrinkle releaser among your toiletries. A spritz or two and a tug will help relax wrinkles in difficult garments, and leaves your clothes smelling fresh to help mask that musty 'suitcase odor'. Downy Wrinkle Releaser is a good place to start and is easy to find in most stores.
Of course, we're just scratching the surface! Every family tends to have a few tricks up their sleeve to save some space and make packing less of a pain. Do you have any time-honored tricks? Let us know below!