By Lydia Mansel, Travel + Leisure, January 2024
I'm a professional packer, and these 4 items ended my overpacking for good. If you find yourself shoving everything you own into your suitcase or paying for overweight luggage on trips, you need these four problem-solving products.
No one, not even professional packers, enjoys the preparation before a trip. It's stressful and annoying — and can easily become overwhelming if you don't know what you're doing or what you need for your trip. The overwhelmed stage often leads to one thing: overpacking. If you can't decide what to pack, you might as well bring everything with you, right? Wrong. Before you know it, you'll have an overstuffed suitcase, extra fees, and your luggage marked as "HEAVY."
If you struggle with overpacking, you may have read articles on what not to bring, classic packing mistakes, and how to pack more efficiently. But if you're still having trouble, there are a few items you can buy that will stop you trying to fit your entire closet into your suitcase or duffel bag. From the luggage scale you can't believe you've lived without to the perfect-sized suitcase, here are the four items every chronic overpacker needs in their life.
Handheld Luggage Scale
A handheld luggage scale will change your life. No more grabbing your suitcase around the middle and stepping on your regular scale, hoping the measurements are accurate. No more trips to the airport counter praying the agent won't say anything if the scale reads well over 50 pounds. Instead, you simply clip your luggage scale on the top of your bag or suitcase, make sure it's set to 0, and hold it in the air to get your bag's weight.
We particularly like this digital luggage scale option from Longang, which has an easy-to-read LCD screen and is just $8; and Samsonite's manual version, which is a bit more old school, is loved by more than 4,300 Amazon shoppers and is currently on sale for $9.
Not only are packing cubes crucial for suitcase organization, but the models featuring compression also help reduce the amount of space your clothing takes up. Some travelers use packing cubes as a way to separate out types of clothing — shirts, pants, socks, etc. Many bring an extra cube to hold dirty clothes. Others use them to hold specific outfits. The latter is helpful for overpackers who tend to bring the "just in case" jeans or the "maybe I'll wear that" sweater. By utilizing packing cubes, you'll have each look perfectly planned and leave any non-essential items at home. Don't worry: you were never going to wear that extra long-sleeve t-shirt or second pair of sneakers.
Travelers have multiple options when it comes to packing cubes, starting with this best-selling eight-piece set from Bagail that not only comes with four cubes, but also a shoe bag, laundry bag, toiletry case, and convenient pouch for extra organization. Or, you can opt for the five-piece set from Shacke Pak, which is flight attendant-approved and known to help shoppers save double the room in their suitcases. Finally, the reviewer-loved Veken 6-Piece Packing Cube Set features much of the same but with a discount of 26 percent making it even more affordable.
If you follow a specific hair or skincare routine, it can be difficult to move everything to TSA-compliant containers; instead, you choose to just bring the full-sized products in your checked bag. The result? A suitcase that's way heavier than it needs to be. Thankfully, there are upgraded designs that make packing your essential toiletries easier.
For a traditional approach to packing, there's the silicone Gemice Travel Bottles. The leakproof four-piece set boasts a durable three-layer design that keeps its contents secure and is strategically shaped so product doesn't get stuck in the corners. And, if you're looking for a convenient way to pack your liquid toiletries and everyday essentials like medications, overpackers and beauty product enthusiasts were given a lifeline when the brand Cadence launched its signature product called The Capsule. Each customizable, magnetic-closing, leakproof container holds about a week's worth of products inside its trendy, geometric shell. The editor-approved travel cases also make nifty jewelry organizers, too.
Everyone is familiar with the two standard-sized suitcases: carry-on and checked luggage. But sometimes you need something in between. A medium-sized suitcase is perfect for when you know you want to check your bag (or you're traveling via another method of transportation), but you don't necessarily need all the room that comes with a large suitcase.
Editor-approved brand Samsonite's 24-inch Hardside Medium Checked Suitcase is made with a strong-yet-lightweight material to give the luggage its sleek profile and durable construction, and it also features compression straps and multiple storage pockets in the interior to keep your belongings safe and in place during transit. Another T+L-loved pick, the Away Large Suitcase boasts a spacious and durable design that's measures 29 inches but still maintains an ultra-light profile with its polycarbonate hard shell. Inside, you'll find compression straps, a handy mesh divider, and stash pockets for hassle-free packing and organizing.