Wow. I’ve learned so much over the years about how to effectively pack a bag for long-term travel. I shudder to think about what a pack rat I used to be. These packing tips for international travel come directly from my experiences traveling to 20 countries over the past four years, and are my methods to get the most out of a carry-on.
This packing list is for international travel in a carry-on and personal item. I try to never check a bag for mobility and budget reasons. Read on for 5 tips that will make your life easier as you transition to the carry-on-only life!
If you’re going on a really short trip or want to downsize even more, check out my guide to packing a personal item like a pro.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products or services from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I love!
1 // Roll your Clothes
Once you decide what you’re bringing, you will maximize your space by rolling your clothes. Out of all the insane packing guides I’ve seen and tried from YouTube and Pinterest, rolling my clothes is what works best.
I manage to maximize space and outfit options in a small carry-on hardshell suitcase so that I can enjoy travel and look cute!
2 // Use Luggage Cubes
When you’re traveling long-term, it will be hectic and annoying to unpack and repack over and over again. Luggage cubes can serve as drawers to organize your items just like you would at home.
This way, it’s less of a chore to unpack and repack, and you are less likely to forget something!
3 // Pack a Laundry Bag
Trust me on this. After weeks and months at a time of traveling, you will reach a point where you haven’t done laundry in a while. Whether it’s from lack of washing machines at your accommodations or lack of time in a destination, it’s inevitable.
Laundry bags are so helpful to keep the dirty clothes from the clean. You can even use a plastic shopping bag from home–works like a charm!
4 // Choose a Bag for Comfort AND Size Restrictions
This is key.
If your bag makes your life more difficult, DITCH IT.
On my first-ever international trip, I learned quickly that duffel bags are my worst nightmare when traveling and walking with luggage. They are the worst, most unwieldy piece of luggage in the world.
If you’re in a place where suitcases aren’t great due to road conditions or terrain, then get a backpack of similar dimensions with a hip belt. Your back will thank me later.
For my personal item, I love a small backpack with spacious pockets and lots of storage. Again, it must be comfortable. Hip belts are ideal to take the weight off your back. If you are backpacking, then get a daypack that can fit comfortably on the front of your body as well.
Pro tip: Ensure that your carry-on and personal item are on the smaller side, because U.S.-based airlines have generous size restrictions relative to most airlines outside of the USA. You want luggage that will fit any and every size restriction out there, which is why I provided smaller measurements above.
5 // Use Travel Insurance to Replace Lost Luggage
I know I’ve gone on and on about travel rewards credit cards, but they are key for replacing missing and damaged luggage while traveling. Airline insurance is a joke compared to what you can get from high-quality travel rewards credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
When you book your travel with a Chase Sapphire Preferred, you receive trip insurance and help is only a phone call away. Hopefully, the airline won’t check your carry-on regardless. But, sometimes, it happens. Be protected just in case.
No one wants to be stranded in a foreign country with no clean underwear. Just saying.
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These 5 packing tips for international travel have made my life so much easier when traveling. Before, I used to psych myself out about what to take and what to leave, that I would start packing a week before my flight.
Now, I’m lucky if I start two days before. Why? Because my packing strategy has become absolutely seamless. I just don’t worry about it anymore.
What are your favorite strategies to pack lighter and lessen the load on your life?
P.s. Don’t forget to use my personal item packing guide to make the most of your under-the-seat bag!
*Cover photo by Brandless.