Travel Hacks

Five Packing Tips Every Traveler Should Know

by Hitha Palepu

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Schwartzmann, The Style Line.

Pack faster and travel better with these five top travel tips from our pal Hitha Palepu, globetrotting business traveler extraordinaire.

As a business development executive and travel junkie, I find myself on an airplane at Newark more often than I find myself on my couch. In the past five years, I've flown more than 100,000 miles annually, visited six out of seven continents, and documented each trip on my website, Hitha on the Go.

Whether you're jetting to Europe in first class or traveling to rural Africa in a small propeller, these tips will help you pack faster and travel better. Having made every packing mistake in the book, I guarantee they'll have you flying like Clooney in Up In The Air in no time.


You rarely need more than three pairs of shoes per trip. It's the truth. You do, however, need to select those three pairs and pack them carefully.

A business trip requires nothing more than an elegant pair of flats, a pair of heels (broken in, always), and a pair of sneakers to run the pressures away. For lazy beach vacations, you'll need a pair of flip-flops, flat sandals suitable for exploring, and a strappy heel for evenings on the town. (Gentlemen, substitute "strappy heels" for your masculine equivalent.)

Only pack shoes that are already comfortable. And put them in a shoe bag to protect the rest of your belongings from the germs and dirt on your soles.

While compression socks may feel old or fuddy duddy, they keep your feet from swelling on long flights. What's the point of packing cute shoes if your feet can't fit in them? Compression socks are now available in cheery prints like argyle.

Read more about Hitha's three pairs of shoes rule.


A good carry-on has the necessities — electronics, toiletries, and essentials — packed in the correct order.

The items you'll need between home and the airplane should be packed last for easier access. Like your identification, phone (mobile boarding passes), and your bag of liquids.

Chargers should always be in your carry-on, corralled away in an easy-to-find pouch. Bonus points if also pack a pair of shoes.

Read more of Hitha's tips for packing a carry-on.


Suitcases for trips shorter than three days scream high-maintenance. And $10 says you have a duffel stashed in the corner of your closet. It's time you learn how to pack it properly.

Put everything in a pouch by item type — shoes, clothing, accessories, etc. Put your heaviest items in first, lightest items last. Hairbrushes and hair tools can be stuffed in the narrowest of spaces. For clothing and shoes, I love roomy pouches by Baggu. (Toss an empty one in to pack wet items like bathing suits.) Use plastic quart-sized bag for toiletries. It will fit more products and last longer than a small baggie.

Ladies should pack small accessories in a flat leather bag and repurpose it as an evening clutch.

Read more of Hitha's tips for packing a duffel.


Many writers have recommended their top items for surviving long flights. I'm no exception. But no one talks about how a little extra planning can make them more bearable. Yes, even if you're stuck at the back of the plane in a middle seat sandwiched between two portly (and slightly smelly) individuals.

You'll make the flight so much nicer if you pack a small bag filled with essentials like snacks, entertainment, and beauty products that you can hang on the tray table hook.

Read more of Hitha's tips for surviving long flights in economy.


Nothing puts a damper on the incredible vacation you just had like a hefty cell phone bill filled with roaming charges. Finding local SIM cards and replacing them in your phone can be a hassle, particularly for iPhone users.

Skip the expensive bill and SIM card hunting and rent a global MiFi. It will allow you to connect all devices securely and upload those enviable Instagrams anytime you want. While you're at it, add a portable battery charger capable of at least two full phone charges.

Just remember to put down the phone and experience your trip.

Read more of Hitha's tips for staying connected while abroad.


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We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.