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    40 Ways To Pack Light And Save Space In Your Suitcase For An International Trip

    These packing tips and space-efficient swaps will have you traveling the world *without* the burden of a heavy suitcase to lug around.

    1. Start with a packing checklist so you can identify the *essentials* for your trip, depending on length, location, and itinerary — and what should probably stay behind. If you (like me) are a chaotic packer whose typical process is throwing a bunch of things in your suitcase and praying it closes later, seeing everything laid out like this can ensure you're not over-packing — and that you don't forget your toothbrush, either.

    packing checklist that says pack this

    Promising review: "We travel frequently and have two children. As any parent knows, packing for yourself and your children can be overwhelming (especially for a trip longer than a few days). I have found this list to be a lifesaver, and I also give it as a gift for other traveling families. It is easy to plan, organize, and list out items that are easily forgotten. You can also list the quantity of each item needed. It has a variety of clothing options and space to add more. Overall, wonderful purchase and has likely saved me many forgotten items!" —I-really-bought-this

    Get it from Amazon for $7

    2. Or, try another approach: Start by laying everything you think you might need out on the bed, then going through one by one to identify what you *know* you'll wear versus items that are just a "maybe." Circle back to the "maybes" pile only once you've packed all the essentials — and see how much space you have left, if any.

    blogger packing clothes and accessories into their suitcase

    3. And if you have nooo idea where to even start — especially if it's your first time traveling out of the country — try following a ~formula~ like this blogger's 5-4-3-2-1 packing guide, which has you start with five flexible tops, and work your way down to one of each essential accessory: a hat, a watch, and sunnies.

    a graphic detailing the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing rule and what items fall into each category

    4. Weigh your suitcase using a digital luggage scale so there aren't any surprises (and unplanned over-capacity fees) when you get to bag drop-off and have to heave it onto that big scale. Plus, if you're traveling between multiple cities or hotels during your trip, it can help give you a reality check before you're in the middle of Seoul lugging a packed-to-the-brim suitcase up the subway stairs (side-eyeing my past self here). Do you reeeally want to carry 40+ pounds around with you from location to location?

    reviewer using a digital luggage scale to weigh a red suitcase by attaching it to the handle and lifting up
    reviewer using the digital luggage scale to weigh a small bag

    To use, just hook the scale to your luggage handle, lift up, and the LCD display will show the weight! You can also switch between pound and kilogram measurements. 

    BTW, BuzzFeed Shopping editor Elizabeth Lilly recently put this scale to the test while packing for a trip to Iceland — check out her demo of how it works on TikTok!

    Promising review: "Took this for a 10-day trip overseas with lots of flights. Weighed the luggage as things were added to it/purchased, and when we weighed in at the airport, it was perfectly accurate. Very important when the airline will charge $70 more for a suitcase that is too heavy or make you open the whole thing up and take stuff out in order to fly with it. Saved so much hassle." —B. M. O'Connor

    Get it from Amazon for $10.99+ (available in six colors, as well as a two-pack and another style). 

    5. Opt for clothing that can be styled multiple ways, especially if your trip spans a week or longer — don't worry, it's OK to be an outfit repeater (despite what Kate Sanders from Lizzie McGuire might have taught us). Except, you're not really repeating an outfit when you have a truly versatile piece like Hackwith Design House's Everything Top, which can be worn more than five ways!

    a model wearing the black long-sleeved wrap top in three ways: off the shoulder, tied in the front with a square neck, and tied in the back with a V-neck in front
    Hackwith Design House

    Hackwith Design House is a woman-owned small business that creates made-to-order apparel. This shirt can be worn as a V-neck, off-the-shoulder, boatneck, V-back, and even open as a jacket.

    Promising review: "I’m being honest when I tell you this is the most 'worth-it' top around. I read a review from some frequent flyer who claims this is her go-to for flying. She said aside from the top’s flexibility — which allows much less packing as the top itself looks and behaves like four shirts and a jacket — it’s a savior on planes because it allows you to get into a usually overheated plane, and to weather the transition to iceberg that happens about 20 minutes into most flights, and it holds its shape and looks great. I was skeptical, as I do not have the money to blow on someone else’s opinion, but my husband told me to try it as I have the same issues with temps. Long story short, I got it. It’s a gorgeous fabric despite my usually hating the ribbed thing. It’s nice. REALLY nice. Yes, it’s extraordinarily flexible, and yes, it’s like a jacket. Ordering in the off-white now." —Mary B. 

    Get it from Hackwith Design House for $145 (available in women's sizes XS–4X and in five colors). 

    6. One-piece outfits like rompers, jumpsuits, and dresses are a great option here, too, since they're an all-in-one fit and can more easily be styled in a variety of ways. This particularly cozy jumpsuit is even flight attendant-approved and boasts over 33,000 5-star Amazon ratings!

    7. And where possible, reach for pieces made of thinner materials that'll allow room for more options in your suitcase, like a lightweight slip dress for a chic dinner or going out look! You can always layer a cardigan, jacket, or shawl over it for warmth — and to style it in different ways for multiple occasions!

    Writer in a black spaghetti-strap slip dress

    Psst — for a cheaper slip dress in more sizes, we love this Amazon option!

    8. Roll your clothing instead of folding it into stacks — it'll take up less room and help prevent wrinkles!

    9. And utilize compression cubes with a genius double-zipper system that'll press out excess air and condense the clothes to reduce bulk. You'll also be able to plan and pack specific outfits together, leaving you with a perfectly organized bag that won't turn into a mess by the end of your first travel day.  

    a suitcase packed with compression cubes
    a reviewer photo of seven different shirts
    a reviewer photo of the shirts packed in a compression cube next to a measuring tape that reads

    Promising review: "Must-have traveling accessory. Best way to pack a suitcase! I’ll never go back to stuffing everything in on its own. These compartments held way more than I imagined and kept me organized. I will definitely add more to my collection. Makes a great gift for frequent travelers, too!" —Lisa

    Get them from Amazon for $18.95+ (available in 10 styles and in packs of two, three, or six).

    10. Or, for a particularly long stint abroad, consider vacuum storage bags designed to squeeze out every bit of air and increase your storage space by a whopping 80%. If you're traveling with bulky apparel like coats and sweaters — or just want to bring a wider variety of clothing options — they're a lifesaver.

    A BuzzFeeder's bulky clothes in a sealed bag with text:
    The BuzzFeeder's same clothes now vacuum-sealed with text:
    Jasmin Sandal / BuzzFeed

    BuzzFeed Shopping editor Jasmin Sandal is a fan: "I swear by these bad boys not only for general storage purposes, but also if I know I'm going to be traveling for an extended period of time. As someone who tends to pack for every eventuality (who doesn't like to be prepared?!), I have learned that it's better to travel with them than without — especially since it's more or less a guarantee that my clothes are gonna take up a ~substantial~ amount of room in my suitcase. And if I can use something that's gonna shrink the size of my bulky hoodies and/or big tees in order for me to create more space, I'm sure as heck gonna do it. Plus, the satisfaction is indeed guaranteed because when you see those chunky layers flatten into a's just *chef's kiss*."

    Promising review: "We needed to travel for a long trip to Japan, which included two days of skiing, and make all our clothes and gear fit in carry-on luggage. These bags were incredible. They worked well without any issues, and they were able to compress ski pants and gloves and warm sweaters down to a nearly flat surface. Everyone in our family used at least two in their carry-on bag, and that was what allowed us to pack everything we needed. Each bag worked well repeatedly, as we opened and shut them during the trip. Highly recommend when traveling and space is an issue." —whitnch

    Get a six-pack from Amazon for $27.99+ (available in four sizes, as well as other multipacks).

    11. Toss in a 50-count set of laundry soap sheets for easily washing your clothes on the go so you *can* wear them on repeat and not have to fill up a bulky "dirty clothes" bag over the course of your trip. They'll come in clutch whether you're hiking or camping or just don't want to use your hotel's expensive laundry services — plus, you can pack them in your carry-on since they're non-liquid!

    These work best with hand-washing! If you have quick-drying clothing you can pack, even better. 

    Promising review: "This came SO in handy during my vacation to Europe! I was making lots of different stops to places with different types of weather. With these laundry soap sheets, I was able to wash my clothes in the sink — letting me pack just the right amount of clothes for all the different places I went." —Katie Fujarski

    Get a pack of 50 from Amazon for $9.02 (also available in hand soap sheets).

    12. And prepare for the possibility that you miiiight accidentally drip pasta sauce on your nicest shirt while dining at that fancy Italian restaurant — and problem-solve ahead of time by packing a little Tide stain-removing pen. It'll take up HARDLY any space, but it'll let you spot-treat your visibly dirty top (instead of having to rely on one of the precious few non-stained shirts you have left). 

    white shoe with a red stain in a before pic, with the stain gone in the after pic
    a hand holding the ride stain remover pen

    This pack comes with three, but you could just pack one (and leave the other two at home where they will, no doubt, get plenty of use in everyday life).

    Promising review: "This product works great, and the three-pack is a good deal, whether you want to label each one for a specific use or share with members of the family. It is easy to use and doesn't take long to dry. I keep one in my purse, and of course, it is a must-have when traveling." —DeeNicole

    Get a pack of three from Amazon for $7.74.

    13. And! Plan to freshen up your wrinkled blouses and dresses from your *tightly* packed suitcase with a mini steam iron so small and lightweight, you'll hardly notice it in your travel bag — but its effectiveness more than warrants its inclusion. Bonus: It's dual-voltage and comes with a travel bag, so it'll be ready to go for all of your worldwide jet-setting. 

    the iron
    reviewer's hand holding the tiny steam iron

    Yes, some hotels have irons in the rooms, but many don't (or they're broken/have seen better days) — and that's if you're even staying in a hotel!

    Promising review: "The best travel item I have purchased this year! It irons so well. I took it on a trip to Germany a few weeks ago. I just placed a towel on the counter or on the bed, and it took minimal effort to iron out the creases. The steam works very well. I hardly had to use the max heat option because it’s pretty powerful. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who does business travel and are going to areas that don’t have irons available in the hotel rooms or for leisure travel as well. It doesn’t take up much room. It fits in the palm of my hand. I also had no problem getting through security in Germany, London, or the US." —Erica Kowsari

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

    14. Pack up to three pairs of shoes in a single, space-efficient shoe bag — like your sneaks for walking tours, sandals for the beach, and flats for a nice dinner. It's a great compromise between wearing the same shoes the *entire* trip and, well, bringing along your entire Carrie Bradshaw-level collection. Plus, it'll help keep the dirty soles from touching your freshly laundered clothes.

    reviewer image of the shoe bag in pink, filled with shoes
    reviewer image showing the show bag open with a pair of sneakers and two pairs of flip flops in it

    Of course, sticking to just one pair (that you wear on the plane) is the *most* space-efficient option, but if your trip includes a mixed itinerary of casual days and fancier reservations, this is a great way to cover all of your bases.

    Promising review: "You can totally fit three pairs of shoes in this! (I wear a women's size 6.5 shoe, and it fits heels, wedges, and sandals.) I bought two and will absolutely be buying more for my husband. 10/10 would recommend! I travel frequently, and I always overpack; this helped cut down space and stress immensely!" —Taylor

    Get it from Amazon for $22.99 (available in nine colors and patterns). 

    15. Aaaand fill shoes with smaller items like socks, bras or underwear — because every inch of space counts! If you're only bringing one extra pair, stash them in a shower cap that won't add any bulk but *will* keep dirty soles from making a mess in your suitcase.

    a pair of shoes in a shower cap with socks and undies inside them

    16. Take some time to research what items are provided by the hotel or Airbnb you're staying at as well as any tours you're going on (or what you can borrow from your local friend, lol) so you don't waste space packing items you don't need!

    Arrow pointing to people on rented beach towels under an umbrella

    17. Don't forget your universal travel adapter, especially if you're planning to hit multiple countries on your trip — it'll ensure you're never left looking in confusion at a strange new outlet shape like, "Um...what am I supposed to do with that?" No need to pack separate adapters, either — and your USB cables can plug right into it!

    18. And instead of packing a slew of chargers, streamline the process with a 3-in-1 magnetic wireless charger that folds up *so* small but can juice up your iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch all at once! It's so slim, you could literally carry it in your pocket (and free up your backpack for other items). 

    The white charger pad laid out to charge a phone, watch, and AirPods
    gif of reviewer pulling out the black version from its compact size all the way out to the three part mat

    Promising review: "I use this product to charge my iPhone 13, AirPods, and Apple Watch. Prior to this 3-in-1 compact purchase, I have purchased three different kinds of 3-in-1 chargers — I frequently travel between school and home with carry-on bags on airlines, and all of the previous stand version chargers don't fit well in my bags, or I am always worried I will break them. This is compact and folds so well that I can fit it in my carry-on or in any zipper pockets without having to worry about breaking anything. Charger works really well, and it is the best compact one you can find on the market. Love it and been using it for two months now with no issues!!" —Sbreddy

    Get it from Amazon for $33.99 (available in nine colors). 

    19. Don't bring that unread pile of books by your bed and instead pack a slim, waterproof Kindle to fill those long hours on the plane or train with some ~light~ reading — literally. It won't weigh down your bag or add any bulk, and you'll be able to download new books on the go whenever you have access to Wi-Fi!

    Reviewer holding up their Kindle
    gif of the kindle in the water showing how it's waterproof, Abby Kass / BuzzFeed

    BuzzFeed Shopping writer Haley Zovickian says, "I recently bought a Kindle, and it has, no exaggeration, revolutionized my life. I love mine for so many reasons — it's truly helped me incorporate my love of reading into my often hectic life, and all my titles literally live inside of this half-pound wonder gadget, so I can switch between books super easily. For traveling, this is a literal dream. I don't have to pick between titles and then regret the entire trip that I didn't bring the one I left at home — and, as any book lover knows, traveling with books is heavy as hell, and the Kindle literally completely eliminates that weight. Traveling will never be the same for me. BTW, I am also obsessed with the Libby app, which allows you to check out e-books from your local library on your Kindle!! My inner child is *screaming* with joy."

    Promising review: "I love the feel of books and even the smell if I am being honest. ... But as a traveler, lugging around the five books I like to read at a time is a back-breaker. I have grown to love the Kindle in more ways than just the light load. The fact that I can read in bed without a light glaring is A+. I can access books at anytime, anywhere in the world...even the doctor's office! The library app is amazing. Absolutely my FAVORITE purchase on Amazon of all time." —Jefi Moultrie

    Get it from Amazon for $139.99+ (available in 8GB and 16GB sizes, in three colors, with or without lockscreen ads, and with three free months of Kindle Unlimited).