Fitting 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound bag.

Okay, I really think you want to get as close to 5lbs of stuff, if that’s your bag capacity. But here are some of the best space-saving tips you may not have considered. (Yeah, yeah, we all know “roll your clothes”. These are better than that.)

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  1. Collapsible water bottle. When you’re not using it, it rolls/crunches/folds away into a much smaller size. At first I hated mine (looks like this but may not be identical), because it is soft sided, and I wanted my HydroFlask back. But I got it out last night and actually think I don’t mind it. I’m gonna use it for a few days and probably take it to Spain this summer. These flat-fold ones I saw on Amazon look like they might be the smallest ones out there. I just got one, and I don’t think I like it as much as the other. The other one just seems to not get quite as floppy I drink from it. I also like the looks of this accordion one, because I have an unnatural love of hanging things from caribiners, and it also can hold hot liquids.
  2. All the “rules” say to have pills, especially prescription ones, in their original bottles. I don’t know anyone who has had an issue using a small pill carrier, especially for a typical amount of pills one would bring on a short trip. I’ve never had anyone seem to notice. And most other travel bloggers and YouTubers say the same. However, if you’re on a lot of medication, you should have a copy of the prescription with you, and may want to follow the actual rules. But using a different container can be a great way to save space, especially with everyday pain relievers, Dramamine, Benadryl, and those sorts of very common over the counter things. The really important meds you can’t be without & can’t get easily should stay in their original containers.
  3. Wipes. Surface wipes, anti-bacterial hand wipes, body wipes, makeup remover wipes. All of these are non-liquid (so don’t need to be in your 3-1-1 bag) and not only take up small space but as you use them, they’ll take up less space. A bottle of sanitizer gel (a 3-1-1 liquid) stays the same size no matter what.
  4. Inflatable neck pillow. Yeah, there are some amazing memory foam ones out there that could be more supportive than the one I have…but mine deflates very small, and I can sleep under just about any conditions so I haven’t replaced it. This may not be your choice, especially if you have neck issues or don’t fall asleep easily. But inflatable ones take up less space than permanently filled ones.
  5. If you must bring a hair dryer, get the smallest travel one you can. Same for any other hair tools you need. But do you really need them? Really?
  6. Compression packing cubes. Packing cubes themselves don’t really save space, they’re definitely an organizational tool more than anything. But compression cubes are an exception. They squeeze all the air out of the clothes and lets them fit into a smaller space. What I don’t recommend are vacuum bags. Because they are prone to leak, and many require an actual pump to remove the air. If you’re tight on space, adding a pump to the mix is probably not a good idea.
  7. Thinner fabrics. Instead of a bulky sweater, pack a thermal base layer and another shirt to wear over it. Not only is dressing in thinner layers more flexible, but I could bring several base layers in the space needed for one hoodie. Jeans are bulky, although if they are your life, bring a pair. If not, consider leggings, joggers, or other athletic wear that is generally much thinner and lighter.
  8. Not only bringing e-books, but consider how many devices you really need. Phone, e-reader, tablet, laptop…odds are at least 1 or 2 of those can be left at home.


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