30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 12: Multipurpose, Stuffable and Foldable Items

Day 12: Find multipurpose, stuffable and foldable items.

Welcome to Day 12 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Saving space is the name of the game this month. Look for items that have multiple purposes and can allow you to leave other items behind. Also look for things that can fold flat, as this saves space and can save you time and money. We’ve covered some of our favorite products in the past, namely in our One Little Thing series, so we’ll be highlighting the best multipurpose, stuffable and foldable items here.

Multipurpose Items

Dr. Bronner’s Soap and Wilderness Wash– If you’ve packed shampoo, conditioner, detergent, soap and body wash, leave them all behind in favor of these products.

dr bronners soap - many uses
The many uses of Dr. Bronner’s Soap.

Tweet it out: Packing Tip: Dr Bronner’s soap can be used as a shampoo, body wash, laundry wash, shaving cream and more!

Vaseline– If you’re looking for another all in one product, Vaseline is ideal. I’ve used it as lip balm, antiseptic ointment and cuticle cream. Also slip some into a squeaky wheel on your suitcase. Another popular option is Paw Paw Cream.

BB Cream– Since BB Cream is by nature multiple products built into one, you can leave your foundation, facial sunscreen and tinted lotion at home.

Infinity Dress and American Apparel dress– We love clothing that you can wear multiple ways, as you’ve seen with the Infinity Dress, which can be worn as a top and skirt as well as a dress, and the American Apparel bandeau, which can also be worn a variety of ways.

Scarf– Pack a scarf to use as a sarong over your swimsuit, to keep your neck warm in colder climates and to cover your head in religious buildings.

Water Bottles– I’ve used my water bottle as a flask, a hot water bottle, to protect my toothbrush from dirt and all sorts of other uses, including actually drinking water out of it! Plus, it keeps you from constantly purchasing bottled water.

Brown pencil– Genevieve told us all the uses for her little brown pencil, which functions as eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, lipstick and rouge. Plus, it’s small enough that you will hardly know it’s in your bag!

Bandana or Buff– While the main use is keeping your hair out of your face, you can also use it to protect your head or neck from the sun, plug your sink, wash your face or to tie items together.

Versatile Diva Wash
Diva Wash can also serve multiple purposes. Win!

Two-fer Items

Shampoo and conditioner– Everyone loves a twofer, so if you’re not too picky about what type of shampoo and conditioner you buy, consider bringing two in one.

Convertible pants– While many people have mixed opinions about pants that zip off into shorts, there’s no denying the practicality for packing purposes.

Convertible coats– Many brands, like North Face, make coats that can zipper off into multiple layers like a base layer or fleece.

Reversible clothing– A reversible dress from Athleta has proved eye-catching for the traveler as it’s flattering and could be used as two separate outfits. The same goes for reversible skirts and shirts.

Baby powder– Even if you’re not traveling with a baby, baby powder is good for preventing chafing as well as using for dry shampoo.

ExOfficio Storm Logic Sweater Jacket– This fleece lined down jacket is something to love on its own before discovering it also folds into a travel pillow!

Baggu stuffable backpack.
Baggu’s stuffable backpack.

Stuffable and Foldable Items

Tieks – These adorable flats not only make any outfit look better being made from quality Italian leather, but they are also made for travel, folding into a tiny bag for throwing into your suitcase, purse or daypack.

Stuffable bags– A good reusable bag like the Chico Bag or Sea to Summit daypack is perfect for bringing on a day trip or trips to local markets and grocery stores.

Chacos– The fabric straps on these shoes, love them or hate them, fold flat, making them ideal for travel and space saving.

Sea to Summit Stuffable Daypack
The Sea to Summit Stuffable Daypack

Take Action: Packing Multifunctional, Foldable and Stuffable Items
What items on your packing list can you replace with space-saving items that are either multifunctional, foldable or stuffable? Make the switch now.

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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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

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

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. cherry says

    I was packing for my round-the-world with some of the tips I got from here and all the stuff I packed with me was used! Will definitely come back for tips when I need to pack next time!!!

  2. Nishaa says

    Has anyone tried the baggu stuffable backpack? And if you have, what do you think of it? (I’m thinking about getting it as a daypack/beach bag for a trip to Australia this summer).

    • Brooke says

      Hi Nishaa – I have one and it serves its purpose for light daypack needs. I wouldn’t carry anything heavy in it (like a laptop), but for beach days, sightseeing when you need a spare jacket and other bits, it’s good 🙂

  3. Laramie says

    Dr. Bronner’s soaps are fantastic! The stronger scented ones (peppermint, tea tree..) help keep away bugs, too.

  4. Mica says

    Have you heard of the multi-way dress by twelveways on twelveways.com?

    It is my new favorite find. I like it even better than the American Apparel dress because you don’t have any flappy parts to tie up and wrap around (which is important for the origami-challenged like me).

    It can be used as several different style blouses/mini-dresses as well as any length skirt you want. I think it will also make a wonderful beach cover-up. I plan to use it the next time I visit family in Hawaii.

  5. Lesli says

    I would suggest conditioner as a multipurpose item. Curly-haired and thick-haired ladies can use it in lieu of shampoo (see naturallycurly.com for instruction). It also functions as shaving cream, a leave in conditioner when diluted with water, and I’ve also used it to hand wash delicates!

  6. Ema says

    I realize this is an old article by now, but I wanted to let anybody who might stumble upon this years later know that you should NOT forgo your facial sunscreen just because you use BB cream!
    You would have to put dozens of layers of BB cream onto your face in order to mimic the SPF protection of sunscreen as it’s quite diluted and you don’t use nearly as much BB cream as you would sunscreen.
    Just my two cents! <3 Lovely article by the way, it's helped me out so much!

  7. Xenia says

    Olay makes a fantastic moisturiser with 30+ sunscreen in it. Facial use is best as it can get pricey if you use it for body – but if you’re fair like me you stay out of the sun and cover up anyway, so facial sunscreen might be all you need.

    Stuffable shopping bags are great for everyday use, as well as for travel – so many cool designs out there, perfect for souvenirs that don’t fit in your purse.

    Also – anyone got any tips for versatile tops with sleeves? The Versalette is no longer available, and even if it were it’s crazy expensive (yes I know – cost per wear – but most of us also have to deal with upfront cost restriction also!). Anyone know where to get a cheaper version of something similar to the Versalette?

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