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    27 Packing Tips To Help You Avoid Paying For Checked Luggage

    Save space, save money, save time waiting at the luggage carousel.

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    1. Figure out what carry-on suitcase size works for the airline you're going on, because of COURSE there's no standard measurement across them all. Luckily for us, Amazon has an easy guide to make shopping for your suitcase a lot easier — just select by airline!

    Amazon's guide to carry-ons, including airlines like air france, hawaiian airlines, delta airlines, jetblue, and more
    Amazon

    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.

    2. Create a packing list even before you take a single item out. Whether it's on a handy prefilled notepad or just on the Notes app of your phone, spend some time really thinking about everything you need so you don't panic and try to shove in 25 pairs of extra undies and three sweatshirts at the last minute.

    The blue packing list notepad broken down in to basics, miscellaneous, clothes, and hygiene
    Amazon

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

    Get this handy notepad from Amazon for $8.46.

    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

    3. Download a weather app like Dark Sky that lets you look ~into the future~ to see what the weather will be like in the city you're visiting. Will you need a light jacket? Just a heavy sweater? Now you'll be in the know.

    A screenshot of rome's average weather on december 25th
    Dark Sky / BuzzFeed

    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).

    4. If rain is on the meteorological menu, squeeze in a packable raincoat so you can stay securely dry without having to leave your favorite, more fashionable pieces at home. This packs down into a teensy drawstring bag. You can even keep it in your purse while actually on the trip if it might stay dry.

    The two-tone grey jacket with the drawstring bag it packs into
    Amazon

    Get this one from Amazon for $28.99+ (available in sizes S–3XL and 23 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!

    5. Listen to your parents and roll your clothes to save space. It's a tried-and-true method that actually works AND also makes it easier to find individual items — without messing up the whole rest of the suitcase.

    BuzzFeed

    6. Or try one of these techniques — depending on what you're packing, you might want to switch it up. The "clown car" style helps with reducing wrinkles!

    An infographic of different folding methods
    expedia.ca

    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.

    7. Fill otherwise-hard-to-utilize space (looking at you, space between the metal bars!) with rolled up undies, bathing suits, or other small pieces of clothing to maximize capacity.

    A photo of the space between the metal bars in a rolling suitcase
    onegoodthingbyjillee.com

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

    8. Things can get a bit...crushed...in a small carry-on easily, so maintain the collar shape of dress shirts by looping your belt just inside. Your next work trip is officially saved from creased collars.

    A collared shirt with a belt rolled up to fit inside the neckhole
    BuzzFeed

    9. Maximize your vacation hours (and suitcase space) by packing your outfits PER DAY! No more rummaging around your suitcase, messing everything up. And if you want to wear something more than once, just keep it separate for now.

    A ziploc bag with clothes folded inside marked "Tuesday"
    BuzzFeed

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

    10. Make your clothes more *compact* bit by bit in a set of packing cubes — organize them by day (like pictured above), clothing type, ~segment of your trip~ (like city/beach/weather), etc.! Harness your inner Virgo and get packing.

    amazon.com

    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 $22.99+ (available in 15 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

    11. Or if you're less worried about organization and more worried about having enough space, compress everything into a set of space-saver bags specifically designed for travel. Over-packers? These are for you. No vacuum required; just pop in your stuff and roll to release the pesky extra air through the valves.

    Amazon, amazon.com

    ::Cough, me studying abroad, cough::

    Get a pack of eight from Amazon for $17.95.

    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

    12. Stuff small, foldable items inside your hat, then place items carefully around the brim inside your suitcase to keep it from getting crushed or bent. Because carrying a sun hat on the plane is just annoying.

    Images of clothing being backed in and around a hat
    collectivegen.com

    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.

    13. Or try a *genius* Toptote hat clip that hooks right around your bag strap, luggage tag, zipper loop, wherever to easily let your sun hat dangle from the side of your bag as you stroll your way through the airport. Your hands are full ENOUGH, thankyouverymuch.

    A hat hanging from the raffia clip attached to a tote handle
    Nordstrom

    A magnetic clip securely attaches to your hat brim (damage-free) — just hook the gold hexagonal clip around the strap/holder of your choosing! BTW, this raffia one is very beach-ready and adorable, but you can also get it in black leather.

    Promising review: "Where has this been all my life???? Its a life changer when traveling. Cute and high quality too! Love it." —Lala52

    Get it from Nordstrom for $59.

    14. Stop wasting a single inch of space — fill your shoes with teensy packables like socks and undies. Off to somewhere chilly? Pack leggings, or even your straightener/curling iron in boots to save space and help maintain your boots' shape.

    A pair of sneakers in a shower cap, each stuffed with socks
    BuzzFeed

    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 12 shoe bags (they're clear so you can see which pair is which) for $12.99 at Amazon.

    15. Fold one bra cup inside out into the other, then stuff the straps and band inside *that* cup for a compact packing method that won't ruin your favorite bras.

    BuzzFeed

    16. Create a mini capsule wardrobe when packing; stick to just one palette, plus a few accent colors, so you can make the most from mixing and matching juuuust a few key pieces.

    A graphic of a suggested capsule wardrobe, including foundation pieces, outer layers, and accessories
    extrapetite.com

    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!

    17. Roll up a compact and collapsible water bottle, because it's incredibly easy to get dehydrated on a long-haul flight, and airport water is expensive! You can keep it handy in an outer pocket of your carry-on bag or backpack so you can fill it with ease, without losing on precious space.

    The water bottle rolled up and full size
    Amazon

    Get the one pictured above from Amazon for $24.95 (available in seven 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

    18. Select your most key pieces of jewelry and keep them safely stored in a truly mini (and adorable) case like this pretty velvet one. You'll feel fully accessorized without wasting space or weighing your bag down with heavy pieces.

    Made in Rose

    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 $18.74+ (originally $22.05+; available in nine 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.

    19. Traveling with a carry-on and a (cough cough giant backpack) personal item (and a jacket) can get unwieldy, especially at security. Store your cash, boarding pass, passport, credit cards, etc. in a travel wallet that makes it super easy to see everything at a glance. And then just toss it in your carry-on when you're through security!

    The travel wallet in rose gold
    Amazon

    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

    20. Opt for a perfectly sized set of TSA-friendly travel bottles and jars you can fill (and refill) with your favorite products when they don't make travel size. Can't skip your fave skin and hair products when you're away, even when packing light!

    The set of containers a reviewer filled with lotion, body wash, shampoo, face wash, face cream, and a face mask
    amazon.com

    Get the set of four bottles and two jars pictured above from Amazon for $6.99+ (available in six styles).

    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

    21. And add an easy, leakproof layer to your toiletries to avoid any big-time oopsies at your destination; just wrap a small square of cling wrap over the opening and pop the cap on top.

    A graphic of wrapping the plastic wrap under the cap of shampoo

    22. Swap your regular hot tool for a two-in-one straightener and curling iron so you only have to bring *one* tool, no matter how you want to wear your hair. It has dual voltage for international trips, too.

    The tool in black and rose gold
    Amazon

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

    Get it from Amazon for $32.99+ (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

    23. Put shoes by the wheels and lighter items towards the handle so that when your suitcase is upright & rolling, the shoes won't crush or wrinkle your clothes.

    A graphic explaining the tip
    BuzzFeed / Amazon

    Shop Delsey luggage like the one pictured here on Amazon.

    24. Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane, whether that's a pair of chunky sneakers, booties, etc. — you'll save suitcase space, but stay comfy on the long flight — especially if you wear some nice compression socks.

    A model wearing the chunky white sneakers
    Amazon

    Hot take: As long as you have SOCKS ON (I highly recommend these compression socks, $14.50+ 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 $35.90+ (available in sizes 5.5–8.5 and in beige).

    25. Rather than packing a giant sweatshirt you might not wear again, if you run cold, keep a blanket scarf easily accessible in your carry-on. It'll be lightweight enough to pack up small, but keep you significantly warmer on the freezing desert that is the internal airplane climate.

    A reviewer in the plaid scarf
    amazon.com

    Get this one from Amazon for $7.89+ (available in 38 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

    26. Include a fold-up duffel on trips when you KNOW you'll be bringing back more than you came with. Just pack your purse on the way back and count this as your "personal item" — I won't tell.

    Amazon, amazon.com

    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 $17.99 (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

    27. Remember all the dirty laundry you're going to accumulate *in advance* so all of your careful rolling isn't for nought. Separate your stinky socks into a space-saving laundry bag designed to help you *compress* those dirty clothes into a compact bag so they're out of sight, out of mind until you're home...and fiiiiiinally unpack.

    The bag
    Amazon

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

    Get this cute map-print one from Amazon for $8.03 (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

    Because spoiler alert: This won't fit into the overhead compartment.

    NBC

    Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.