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These 6 Household Items Will Totally Change How You Pack a Suitcase

These inexpensive, everyday objects do double duty to create organized and wrinkle-free luggage. They're proof that the best way to pack a suitcase doesn't have to start in a fancy specialty store and involve lots of dollar signs.

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Don’t toss that dry cleaner bag

Here’s the best way to pack a suitcase to keep your clothes wrinkle-free on the road: Use the clear plastic wardrobe bags that come free from the dry cleaner and are already in your closet. Place each of your hanging items in its own plastic bag, then place all the bags together in a garment bag or suitcase. The bags create a thin layer of air around each item, preventing friction. Friction is what causes wrinkles, and plastic stops friction—it’s that easy. These are the other packing mistakes to avoid.

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Borrow a clip from your desk

How do you pack a suitcase so that all the cords and wires that come with your phone and electronics don’t make you think “Snakes on a Plane” when you reach into your carry-on luggage? How do you prevent a wire-y mess that might get you delayed by the TSA? A simple binder clip from your desk is the two-second solution you need: Simply loop the wires together and use the clip to keep them in place. Voila! And the binder packing tips don’t stop there: Grab another one to cover the top of your razor, or anything else sharp in your luggage, so you don’t cut your finger when you’re feeling around for it in your toiletry bag. When packing for a flight, these uses for old socks may also come in handy.

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Repurpose laundry room staples

Have you ever had your carry-on luggage opened at security and a guard pick through your clothes? Uh, huh—we get creeped out having people touch our stuff too. That’s why we rely on those mesh bags designed for washing delicates to pack our, well, delicates, on the road. Bathing suits, underwear, socks—basically anything you don’t want a stranger to hold up in the middle of the airport—go straight into the see-through mesh bags, allowing TSA agents to view what’s inside without touching everything. Extra bonus: On the way home, use them as bags for dirty laundry and then pop them straight into the washing machine. Here are more things to always have in your carry-on luggage to be ready for anything.

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Find a new use for that old glasses case

If you’re always trying to find ways to keep tabs on small items in a suitcase, this packing tip is for you: Place all your small objects—such as earrings, cuff links, tie tacks, rings, or even hearing aids and batteries—into an eyeglass or sunglass case. Snap it closed. Instant organization! Don’t wear glasses? Try this with a plastic travel soap dish from the dollar store instead.

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Grab some plastic straws from the pantry

Have you witnessed the miracle of knotted necklace chains? It’s like a magic trick gone bad: Add several chains to a small jewelry bag, travel to your destination, open the bag, and PRESTO CHANGO, one big knotted chain instead of three. The best way to pack a suitcase with delicate jewelry? Drinking straws. Thread a chain through to the end of the straw, then close the clasp. Lay the neatly looped straws in a plastic bag or trim the straws to fit into a toothbrush case and pile them in there. (Extra bonus: your chains are now camouflaged from prying eyes as well).

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Bring on the baggies

One packing mistake you shouldn’t make: Putting your liquids straight into your suitcase or toiletries bag. Even if you’re checking luggage, use plastic bags with zip-lock seals to keep suntan lotion, shampoo, and conditioner, face wash, or any other liquids spill-proof on the road. (We’re loving these reusable, sealable silicone bags from Stasher—they even go in the dishwasher!) Baggies are also how to pack a suitcase for the trip home; they’re a great way to isolate wet, dirty, or sandy clothes. Throw a few extra zip-top bags in your carry-on luggage too, to organize small toys (hello tiny Legos) and souvenirs (like shells), stash away garbage, and/or carry snacks.

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.