You've Been Packing All Wrong: 12 Hacks that Help


Hint: this isn’t actually the most effective way to pack. (Photo: Getty Images)

By Natalie DiScala / Oh! Travelissima

I love finding new uses for old things. There’s something satisfying about finding a way to repurpose something, rather than tossing it in the trash. I have a few awesome packing hacks that I’ve been using for a few years now but a quick Google search proved that I wasn’t the only one to come up with these brilliant ideas.

Packing is a challenge for most of us but there are lots of ways to minimize the stress and maximize the space you have in your suitcase. These 12 packing hacks are a combination of my own ideas and others I’ve sourced from around the web. And since I’m always looking for new ways to be a more efficient packer, share your own best packing tips or packing hack in the comments below.

1. Use tiny button bags for earrings.

When you buy a new piece of clothing, you’ll often find spare buttons attached in a small Ziploc-like bag. Spare those little bags from dustbin destiny and use them to store earrings and necklaces when you travel. They’re a handy storage solution even when you’re not traveling.

2. Toothbrush holders are perfect for makeup brushes.

A full-size plastic toothbrush holder is the perfect vessel for makeup brushes. My brushes are sometimes too long to fit in my makeup bag. Plus, if they’ve still got product on them, things can get messy. Use a plastic toothbrush holder to store and pack them. The best part is that you can easily wash the container when it starts to get dirty.

3. Tic Tac containers easily store hair pins.


An empty Tic Tac box will keep your bobby pins ready to go. (Photo: natalie/Flickr)

Tic Tac containers are perfect for storing bobby pins so they don’t get scattered all over the place or lost in the abyss at the bottom of your purse.

Related: 6 Household Items That Will Make Packing Easier

4. Shoe bags can be used as laundry bags.

Sometimes when you buy a new pair of shoes or a fancy handbag, you’ll get a fabric shoe bag along with it. These bags make perfect laundry bags while you’re on the road.

5. Use a belt to keep a men’s shirt collar stiff.

Huh? I found this great tip on Buzzfeed: A rolled belt inserted into the collar of a men’s dress shirt will ensure that it keeps its shape and doesn’t get crushed.

6. Shower caps as shoe protectors.


Tuck your shoes into a shower cap before tossing into your suitcase. (Photo: shootstock / Alamy Stock Photo)

I haven’t used this one before but I’m going to start! The disposable shower caps that most hotels provide are perfect for wrapping around the soles of your shoes, thus keeping your clothes around them clean.

7. Dryer sheets can keep things smelling fresh.

Living out of a suitcase does have its drawbacks, especially if you don’t have access to laundry facilities. Fake it by throwing some dryer sheets into your suitcase to keep things smelling fresh.

Related: Nate Berkus Packs WHAT in His Suitcase? It’ll Surprise You

8. Use pillboxes for jewelry.

Pillboxes with the days of the week on them are perfect for keeping necklaces, rings, and earrings organized while you’re on the go.

9. Use straws to prevent tangled necklaces.


Straws can keep your necklaces untangled while you travel. (Photo: Jeff Golden/Flickr)

Traveling with necklaces is a challenge. Somehow, they always end up tangled. To prevent this, string the two ends through two straws and you’ll never unpack to find a knotted mess you can’t undo.

10 Contact cases for earrings.

Another great way to store small earrings: inside a contact lens case.

Related: Save Time, Room, and Money — Secret Travel Uses For Common Accessories

11. Sunglasses cases can be used in a variety of ways

Sunglasses cases can be used in many ways. If one is large enough, it can be used to store a small iPhone charger and earbuds. It can be used as an emergency kit (complete with Band-Aids, painkillers, antihistamines and Neosporin.) They can also be used to hold a few bottles of nail polish to keep them from breaking.

12. Sheet cases can protect delicates.

When you buy a set of sheets, they often come packaged in zipped, plastic bags. Those bags can be used to protect clothing that you really want to keep safe, like white clothes or clothing made from delicate fabrics that you don’t want to get stained or pulled in any way.

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