The 21 Best Travel, Laundry, and Packing Hacks of All Time

published Aug 6, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

If you have an upcoming trip, you’ve probably been looking forward to it all summer long. In addition to planning things like what you want to do and where you want to eat, taking the time on the front end to make sure your trip goes smoothly pays off big time while you’re on your trip.

Every travel and packing hack that meets a “survival” need while you’re on your trip translates to less time fussing with necessities and more time relaxing and having fun. For instance, if your toiletries don’t leak, you won’t have to waste any vacation time cleaning the clothes they leaked on and replacing shampoo!

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Here are 21 of the best hacks of all time—for packing your clothes, stowing your delicate jewelry, and doing laundry on the go—that will help you squeeze every drop of joy from those golden vacay days.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Use two sheets of Press-and-Seal-type wrap to keep your necklaces and bracelets from getting tangled

Rip off one sheet, sticky side up, arrange your jewelry on top of it, and cover with a second sheet of Press-and-Seal, sticky side down. Unwrap as you need your jewelry and re-use.

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Store rings and earrings in pill boxes

Some of your jewelry might be sizable enough to press between plastic wrap like the necklaces above, but your smaller pieces will fit perfectly inside a pill box that you can easily tuck into your suitcase.

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Cover a toothbrush with plastic wrap

You can also use Press-and-Seal wrap to protect your toothbrush for travel. Just cut off two small squares and press them together around the end of the brush to cover it.

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Decant your favorite products into travel bottles

This saves you space in your suitcase, allows you to bring your toiletries in your carry-on, and keeps whole containers of expensive products from accidentally breaking and leaking.

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Cover bottle openings with plastic wrap before you screw on the lids

After you decant your toiletries into carry-on approved bottles, cover the openings with some plastic wrap. This adds an extra layer of protection against spills.

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Pre-soak cotton pads with your most-used products

Soak cotton balls or pads with your favorite facial cleanser, moisturizer, or toner. Pack as many as you need for your entire trip into separate Ziploc bags, sorted by product. No need to decant, you’ll have exactly what you need, and you won’t have bulky travel bottles to pack.

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Cover a razor with a binder clip

You don’t need a fancy case to travel with a razor. Just clamp a binder clip around the end of your razor to protect the blades (and everything else in your suitcase) from damage.

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Putting a good amount of thought into your clothing choices before you pack is beneficial in a few ways. First, you can consider how the items you choose will wear, choosing clothes that won’t show dirt or stains and that don’t wrinkle easily. In addition, you can pay adequate attention to the weather at your locale and the types of things you feel and therefore look good in. Comfort is important, but so is being happy with how you’re dressed in all those pictures you’re going to take. Last, putting together a travel capsule wardrobe allows you to maximize mixing and matching so you can have as many looks as possible with as few pieces as possible.

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Use a travel space bag to store dirty laundry

You’ll keep not-fresh clothes separate from clean ones, contain odors, and save space even when your clothes aren’t perfectly folded or rolled. As a bonus, when you get home, you can toss the contents of the whole bag in the wash.

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Here’s something you should buy in the minis section at Target: travel-sized shaving cream. Spray it on any stain and let it sit for about half an hour before wiping or gently scrubbing the stain away. Shaving cream helps lift stains from your clothes, even when you can’t wash them.

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Use the shower cap to pack leftovers in the hotel room

Shower caps are the ideal size for snapping over bowls of leftovers. Wrap that fruit bowl up and save it for later in your mini fridge.

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Sort clothes into packing cubes by activity

Packing all your tops in one packing cube and all your bottoms in another makes sense. But in some instances, packing all the things you’ll use at a certain time of day can help make things smoother. For instance, packing your swimsuit, flip-flops, cover-up, and roll-able sunhat in one packing cube means only having to grab one packing cube when pool-time hits.

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Toss a few extra plastic grocery bags into your suitcase

They always come in handy, whether it’s to stow shoes or separate a wet bathing suit from dry clothes.

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Use space saver bags to keep bulky items from filling your suitcase

If you’re going somewhere cold and you don’t want to wear your winter coat on the plane, using a travel space bag can double the room in your suitcase. The best part of travel space bags is that you don’t need a vacuum cleaner to compress them; all you need to do is roll.

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Pack wrinkle-prone must-haves inside dry-cleaner bags to stave off wrinkles

Friction is your worst enemy when it comes to keeping your clothes looking pressed. Save the plastic garment bags from your next dry cleaner run to pack your wrinkle-prone garments.

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Toss a couple dryer sheets in your suitcase

They will keep your clothes and suitcase smelling fresh, and will also double as lint removers, should you find yourself in need. Simply run them over your clothes.

“Iron” your clothes by hanging them up in the bathroom while you take a steamy shower

No matter how much you stick to packing items that don’t wrinkle and how well you roll them, you’ll still likely have to deal with some rumpled pieces. Hang them up while you shower (the smaller the bathroom, the better!) and the wrinkles will loosen drastically.

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Carry your shower cap as emergency protection from the rain

If you think it may rain, wrap your camera, phone, or travel journal in that hotel shower cap to keep them from getting water-logged.

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Bring a small amount of hand-washing detergent

Should you find yourself in need of clean garments and without a laundromat on your trip, the hotel bathroom sink and a touch of hand-washing detergent will save the day.

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Use the hotel shower cap to cover the bottoms of your shoes before you re-pack them

No one wants their soles touching their clothes. Nestling shoes in a shower cap is a tidy solution and takes up far less space and effort than specialty shoe bags.

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Throw your whole suitcase full of laundry in the washer when you get home

The quickest and least painful path to re-entry is not letting your suitcase linger in your bedroom all week.