Overpacking, toiletry spills and a lack of organization can add undue stress and annoyance to travel, but finding the right packing items and accessories ahead of time can feel like an unnecessary hassle. We decided to help you out by asking two people who make their living on the road for their top tips and tricks.
Both travel pros we spoke to emphasized one thing: Organization is key to a successful packing experience. And if that means investing in accessories like packing cubes, it’s well worth it. Traveling is chaotic enough, so why add to it with an unnecessary mess?
Nicole Kleist is a freelance travel writer who often has to hit the road at a moment’s notice to follow a story. “I lean heavily on packing cubes because they keep my suitcase from looking like a tornado swept through,” she said. “I especially like using them for my shoes and dirty underwear.”
In an effort to keep things simple, she tries to plan her outfits for each day in advance. “It keeps me from overpacking and also makes getting dressed throughout the trip less of a hassle,” she explained. If that seems like too much work, she suggests “packing neutral colors so you can mix and match everything you bring along.”
Kleist’s biggest tip? “Don’t overpack shoes! It’s the easiest way to lighten your load and you won’t end up wearing all of them.”
As a professional touring musician, Drew Citron echoed Kleist’s advice on organization. “I keep my show looks in a completely separate garment bag than my hotel and travel clothes,” she said. “It’s all about compartmentalizing what I need when I need it, so I use separate bags for separate things.”
Citron’s top tip: Pack more underwear than you think you’ll need. “I pack every piece of underwear that I own — that way I know that if we don’t have a chance to do laundry, I’ll be good on that front,” she said. You never know what challenges the road will bring, and running out of underwear is never good.
Keep reading for some of the best packing cube options, garment bags, tech travel solutions, accessories and more. If you approach packing like it’s a game of Tetris, and you might actually even enjoy it.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.