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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 28: The Art of Repacking on the Road

Day 28: The art of repacking on the road.

Welcome to Day 28 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

If you’ve made it this far in the month, you’re pretty much a packing pro – at least when it comes to getting your belongings ready in preparation of the big trip. But what about the task of repacking when already on the road?

It’s a totally different process when you have to tip-toe around in the dark of the hostel dorm room, repacking your gear, in order to catch your 5am flight. Last-minute packing pressures tend to have people forgetting things like chargers, watches, and toiletries in random parts of their hotel room. The more often you move around on a trip, the more chances you have of leaving something behind.

There’s an art to repacking on the road, but really, if you’ve followed through with all the tips thus far in the series, you’ll have no problem whatsoever.

Here are our tips for repacking on the road:

1) Bring fewer items.
Yes, we preach it constantly here at Her Packing List, but the truth is if you have fewer items to manage, you’ll have fewer little bits and bobs to forget or lose. Simple as that.

2) Compartmentalizing is key!
Keep all your toiletries in one bag; keep all your electronics accessories in another. Keep all of those items together if you can. For example, if you plan to leave your toothbrush in the bathroom, leave it next to your entire toiletries bag. If you’re plugging in your laptop, keep your bag of cables near it, too. You will be far less likely to forget an entire bag of gear instead of one small item off on its own. You’ll notice an empty gap in your suitcase or backpack when repacking as well that will clue you in on the missing object.

3) Keep a copy of your packing list with you.
Even a list on your iPhone will do. Before heading out the door, read through the list and see if anything sticks out as something you didn’t put back in your luggage.

4) Remember your packing layout.
When we covered how to pack a suitcase and how to pack a backpack, we told you to remember the perfect Tetris position for all the gear you brought. One reader even suggested taking a quick photo for future reference. Once you get this layout down, you’ll be more likely to know what’s missing, and you’ll pack a whole lot faster. This is great for those early morning, half-asleep packing sessions!

5) Pre-pack as much as possible the night before.
A well prepared traveler tends to have less travel and packing stress. This is also great for when staying in hostel dorm rooms. Do not, we repeat, do not be the person that flips the light switch on at 4am and makes incessant plastic bag noises for an hour while repacking the bag. People will hate you.

The most important part of this whole process, besides taking less stuff (!), is to get a system down. Once you know what goes where, and know your packing list inside and out, the moving and shaking on the road will be no drama. You’ll be less likely to forget items, and you’ll have less stress when it comes closer to checkout time.

Take Action: Practice a Repack
It might sound tedious, but if you’re worried about forgetting your belongings when you travel, practice a re-pack. Take your gear out and place in random parts of your home before going to bed. Immediately after waking up, re-pack your luggage with a goal of 15 minutes. A trial run is never a bad idea.

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Stacey says

    Good tips! I need to pack all of my stuff up in a couple of days and I have a nasty habit of letting my bag explode all over the place. It’s definitely important to pack as much as you can the night before as well. A little consideration goes a long way in a hostel!

  2. Louise says

    Great tips 🙂 I always pack the night before including my daybag leaving only my toiletries kit next to the clothes I plan on wearing. If I have to be up crazy early with no chance of coffee, I stack my clothes in order I put them on so I don’t forget socks or something. Then in e morning I just put my toiletries kit and pjs back in my bag.

    I do this even with my work bag / uni bag. Just one of those habits developed from school when my mum made me pack my school bag the night before. Thanks mum!


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