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Day 9: Smart Ways to Stay Organized While Traveling

Packing Hacks is a 31-part series devoted to helping you become an expert packer! Each installment offers advice on how to get organized, pack smarter, save on bag fees, and eliminate packing stress. New to Packing Hacks? Start at the beginning.

Yes, we’ve been touting how to travel light, whether you’re going away for a weekend or a full week. But today we want to tell you all about the other major packing virtue: staying organized.

You’ll learn:

    Why packing lists are your secret weapon

    How to neatly store your gadgets

    Which travel products can help you stay organized

There’s something about a hotel room that makes even the neatest person messy (and turns the naturally disorganized into a hot travel mess).

Thankfully, a bit of preparation and some on-the-go organization will keep everything in its proper place from departure to return. In recent days, we’ve detailed how to pack the perfectly organized bag, and now we’re bringing you clever ways to stay perfectly organized, no matter where your travels take you.

Use Packing Lists Before and During Your Trip

You should always make a packing list before you even pull your suitcase out of the attic. (To get started, download a copy of our Ultimate Packing List.) But what about when you’re on the road? It may be a good idea to print a duplicate copy and pack it in your suitcase. That way, you can check it against your belongings while on the road to ensure you leave no item behind. And, when you’re repacking at the end of a long vacation, you can check items off as you place them back neatly in your luggage.

Use Packing Aids

Packing cubes, folders, and compression bags don’t just save space; they also lend your suitcase a military-grade level of organization. Do some research before purchasing any packing aids, since some are bulky, overpriced, or both (we’ve reviewed a few favorites). In a pinch, grocery bags or gallon-sized zip-top plastic bags work, too.

Organize Your Technology

Carry a lot of technology with you on your travels? Then you know how easily cords get tangled and gadgets get lost. Cocoon makes a number of accessory organizers that feature an organization system with rubberized elastic bands to hold your chargers, headphones, backup storage, and other accessories in place. (Some even come with pockets for your tablet and computer.) These flat, lightweight cases fit easily into carry-on bags and prove invaluable on the road. Never again will you spend the first day of your vacation untangling headphones and searching for your lost power cord.

Unpack Immediately

Living out of a suitcase can lead to a very disorganized vacation. When you arrive at your destination, always unpack immediately, even if your trip is a short one. Fold clothing and place it into dresser drawers, hang up any garments that may wrinkle, arrange your shoes in the closet, and unpack your toiletries in the bathroom rather than leaving them in their quart-sized plastic baggie. You’ll feel more relaxed and at ease, and you won’t be pulling clothing out of a rumpled pile on the floor.

Carry a Well-Organized Wallet

A high-quality, well-organized wallet is indispensable for travel. The best ones offer plenty of pockets for storage, but aren’t too bulky to pack and stick into your pocket or handbag. Brookstone has a number of smart options with sufficient organization for your passport and boarding passes, while Bellroy’s leather travel wallet earns praise for its clever, sleek design and included mini travel pen.

For more of our wallet-on-the-go tips, see Best Ways to Carry Money While Traveling.

Up next: Day 10: How to Choose the Perfect Travel Day Bag.

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