4 packing mistakes to avoid before your next trip

Packing is hard. On top of the stress of figuring out what to pack in the first place, who among us hasn’t had to sit on top of our suitcase and ask someone to help zip it up? Or arrived at baggage check only to be charged an exorbitant extra fee? Or ended up stumbling through security desperately trying to unpack and repack an unruly suitcase at top speed?

Luckily, there are plenty of top travel brands that have listened to our concerns and created some clever hacks to make packing easier at home, at the gate, and once you’ve arrived at your destination. Here are four key packing mistakes travelers make that you can improve the experience on and what purchases to invest in to make it as hassle-free as possible.

1. Not being organized

Without a doubt, one of our favorite travel hacks in Condé Nast Traveler Use packing cubes. These smart purchases help keep things neat and tidy in your suitcase, and often allow you to fit more stuff in, too. You can use one for clothes, one for shoes, and one for delicates, for example, or pack separate items for each day in each. They also help you avoid dirty clothes getting mixed in with clean clothes—reserve a large cube for used items once it’s empty. Alternatively, invest in a separate laundry bag—there are plenty of inexpensive options on Amazon. Packing a travel steamer in your suitcase can also help freshen clothes and remove mildew.

Another easy way to ensure a hassle-free travel experience is to invest in a travel bag with a luggage cover. This way, you can just slip it over your suitcase handle and save your back from the inevitable pains associated with carrying a packed bag. No cover? No problem: an elastic strap or travel belt will turn your beloved travel bag or toiletry bag into a suitcase cover in seconds. Some even have mini pouches attached for your passports and travel documents. We also like this Go Travel Carry Strap, which clips around the straps of your suitcase, backpack, or carry-on bag, giving you room to hold your coat hands-free.

Antler Chelsea Packing Cubes

Carrying Strap with Clip for Go Travel

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Tefal Pure POP portable clothes steamer

Go Travel Washable Laundry Bag

2. Not prioritizing security

Your belongings are precious cargo, and a few small adjustments can make all the difference in keeping them as safe as possible — especially if you’re checking a bag in the hold. Sadly, the Department of Transportation’s latest Air Consumer Travel Report shows that nearly 238,000 bags were mishandled in May 2023, up 45 percent from the same period the year before. There’s not much you can do to prevent this from happening (other than traveling with carry-on only), but carrying a luggage tracker in your suitcase can help you pinpoint its exact location quickly, so you can reunite with your significant other as soon as possible.

Similarly, a luggage strap adds an extra layer of protection against theft, which is especially useful if yours doesn’t have a built-in lock. Alternatively, you can manually lock your suitcase with a padlock. We like this Groov-e smart lock, which uses fingerprint technology, with a memory for up to 10 fingerprints. Of course, investing in a suitcase with a TSA-approved lock is a good place to start.

Groov-e My Lock Smart Padlock

Samsonite Global Luggage Strap

3. Overpacking

It’s easy to overpack, especially if you’re an eager traveler who tends to pack last-minute items you don’t need to bring. But no one wants to be charged an excess baggage fee at the airport. There are plenty of inexpensive digital luggage scales available that allow you to calculate whether your luggage is over the limit, giving you a chance to repack accordingly before you’re hit with an extra charge. The Mopro option below is our pick.