Busy Girls Share Their Best Packing Hacks

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Saint Augustine famously said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Travel can be a fascinating, enjoyable, often life-changing experience. Know what is none of those things? Packing.

My sister and I are like an allegorical lesson in travel-packing extremes, but we are both pretty terrible at it. She starts months in advance, makes endless lists, and ends up bringing far too much and paying an insane last-minute fee on RyanAir (damn you, crappy airline of magic and mystery!). I, on the other hand, put packing off until the last second and operate on the one-backpack-only method — and I'm talking a school-size backpack, not a hiking-size monster. This often leaves me trekking up trails in very unwise footwear and/or realizing too late that I've simply brought no pants. And did I mention I usually travel with a toddler, too?

Regardless of where on the Packing Drama Spectrum you fall, chances are you, too, could use a helping hand (or hack) now and then. What's the best way to decide which items are truly essentials? How can you bring everything you want without regretting it later? And, most importantly: How on earth do you fit it all?

Luckily, we know quite a few women who are up to the task. We asked around and got 12 hacks for how to pack efficiently, effectively, and still keep it light enough to travel. (Which is why you're packing in the first place, right?)

So read ahead, pack up, and the only thing you'll have left to worry about is jet lag.