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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 27: Leave Space in Your Luggage

Day 27: Leave extra space in your luggage.

Welcome to Day 27 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Even if you don’t plan it, you will probably come home with more than you took with you. There’s something about the science of packing that means your items will nearly double on any given trip. You’ll have more dirty clothes and buy souvenirs for friends and family back home. You may even do some shopping for yourself. So always leave enough space in your bag for the items you might bring home.

Know Before You Go

make room for your future trip purchases and accumulations
Think ahead.

Before you leave, research what you might be interested in buying and what your country allows you to bring back. Rethink that Iberico ham from Spain or French cheese if you’re going to have to throw it away at quarantine. If you know you want to bring back a lamp from the bazaar in Istanbul or a bottle of wine from Napa Valley, bring something to wrap it in and leave plenty of space in your bags.

Find a similar item to what you’ll be purchasing and test it out for space in your bag. If there’s not enough room for the space for your souvenir and other items, it’s time get rid of something.

Tip: Do as much of your shopping at the end of the trip as possible rather than lugging it around for weeks.

Packing Souvenirs Safely

If you’re planning on doing some shopping while traveling, bring a small stuffable shopping bag that you can carry on with breakable items. Check another bag, leaving the souvenirs with you. Weigh everything again to make sure that you won’t need to pay an overweight baggage fee. When possible, choose souvenirs that don’t take up much space like jewelry or postcards. Secure your souvenirs by surrounding them with clothing or another soft item.

Take Action: Leave Space in Your Bag
Pre-plan your trip. What souvenirs or shopping items are you interested in bringing home? Find something of similar size and check that it fits. If not, make room!

Let us know what you plan on buying on your next trip abroad.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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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. Andrea says

    When I first started out traveling alone (without my folks), I decided that I wanted to bring things home that I could fill my future home with to remind me of my adventures. The second week into a 6 week trip I was in Venice and I bought a beautiful Venetian lace table runner, and had my eye on masks, but my bag was full and with some much time left I decided against it. Thankfully my best friend bought me one a few years later. But these days my souvenirs are mostly postcards, fridge magnets and personal photographs. But maybe with these tips I’ll be able to bring home a mask every now and again. Thanks so much!!!!!!

  2. Maya says

    Great tips! I love to bring new food items back from my trips; unfortunately I have found that I sometimes have to check my bag because I don’t bring trial sizes back…or even worse, toss my food out!
    On my recent trip to Barbados, I fell in love with their Bajan pepper sauce & mauby syrup. I brought some back home…I already had to check one back so I just put these, and other food items in my checked bag.
    A light bulb flashed when I was on the plane…I could have searched online for these food items and ordered them to be shipped to me! Of course, you should consider the cost. But I know for sure that I will be ordering cases of Bajan pepper sauce and mauby syrup, so ordering online in bulk would have been a good investment. I know this may not ring true for certain items, or the simple fact that you may want to share your awesome souvenirs with people on your way back home.
    This is just my personal insight about bringing back souvenirs that are food items.

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