25 Packing Tips and Extended Travel Hacks for Women

by Sasha
travel packing list for women

Traveling light is worth the missing weight in gold. You can breeze through security, avoid waiting for or losing baggage, and your arms will thank you as you walk cobblestone streets in Zurich pulling a light roller carry-on… or even better a backpack. A few years ago, I brought two full-sized suitcases for a 10-day trip to Europe as a solo female traveler. A little over a year later, I made that same 10-day trip with a single backpack. So, I know it can be done! Women especially seem to have trouble packing light — which, by the way, means packing just what you need and leveraging double-duty items whenever possible. For longer trips (more than 5 days), I usually bring a rolling carry-on and a backpack. Here are some tips and hacks that I have learned along the way that have made my “luxury backpacking trips” easy and comfortable.

Packing Tips for the Solo Female Traveler

  1. If packing more than 5 days of clothing in just a carry-on, try organizing and compressing your tops and bottoms flat in their own vacuum-sealed bags instead of rolling clothing items as often suggested by travel experts. You can also use washable laundry bags, but you can get more space with the vacuum-sealed bags. Check out these Space Saver bags that I keep on hand from Amazon.
  2. Pack 1 bra for every 2 days of your stay — but pack exactly one pair of underwear per day. Pack bras in an extra luxury shoe bag for easy washing. Bring at least 2 bathing suits — ideally mix-and-match top and bottoms.
  3. For flights legs of more than 6 hours or red-eye flights be sure to pack a sleep eye mask and/or travel pillow. I have tried a few different travel pillows, and honestly, on a crowded plane, nothing will be perfect. Here is the sleep mask I love. This silk sleep mask is comfortable, adjustable and super portable. It doesn’t let in any light and is also highly-rated on Amazon.
  4. Pack 1 extra empty handbag (tote sized or larger) in your carry on, in case you need to check a larger carry on bag. I love to carry my Louis Vuitton oversized tote because it’s weatherproof. (see #10)
  5. Bring a shawl or sarong to double as an in-flight blanket, temple cover-up, or in place of a jacket if you won’t be in cool/cold climate.
  6. Pack your liquids, aerosols, and gels in a clear quart-sized Ziploc bag before placing it in a toiletry bag — for easy security checks. Avoid aerosols if possible. Here are my favorite travel-sized toiletries: toiletries for extended travel packing
    If you are looking for durable clear plastic travel toiletry bottles and containers, these are my favority, because they come with this little filling tools to load your product inside.
  7. Carry all electronics in one bag and use a travel accessory soft storage container if you travel with several electronics. I love this one I bought on Amazon. This BUBM Waterproof organizer has a ton of adjustable compartments and can fit all of my cords, chargers, and parts easily and securely. This was great to just pull out easily to get through security. It is also attractive and well-made.
    For the light electronic travelers, try out this BUBM Slim electronic accessory case on Amazon.
  8. Carry a travel adapter if traveling internationally.
  9. Bring one cotton nightgown/negligee for your entire stay, instead of pajama shorts/pants combos — these are easy to hand wash and won’t get musty easily.
  10. Pack your negligee, 1 pair of underwear and one tank top (if you are already wearing bottom separate) flat inside your extra tote bag stored in your carry on luggage. If your main carry-on is ever checked last-minute, you can quickly grab your extra tote and your toiletry bag and have a change of clothes for an overnight layover.
  11. Bring sunglasses and/or a hat for sunny days. If traveling in a temperate or cold climate, pack layers of clothes and wear your jacket, if possible, on the plane.
  12. Unless absolutely necessary, pack only 3 pairs of shoes — comfortable closed-toe flats, tennis shoes and heels/dressy flat sandals.
  13. Purchase travel size containers for all toiletries and write the contents on an adhered mailing label in permanent marker – use this list for essentials. Stock up on hotel extras that meet most airline requirements. 

Download my FREE comprehensive travel packing checklist for any vacation tailored just for women and solo female travelers!
Download the Free Packing Checklist Now

Travel Hacks for Extended Solo Trips and How to Keep Your Stuff Safe

  1. Take photos of your travel documents, such as your passport, front and back of credit cards, boarding passes, travel insurance certificates, and emergency contacts and email it to yourself or save in Evernote before departure.
  2. Download TripIt Pro to store travel information and stay up to date with flight/reservation status and details.
  3. Purchase an RFID fanny pack to easily safeguard your passport and money/cards and move around without a purse. I purchased this one on Amazon, but actually, I think the material is lacking. If you are traveling to a high-crime area, consider bringing a “dummy wallet” with expired credit cards and a few dollars in it that you can hand over to muggers.
  4. For long flight legs, consider upgrading to an extra legroom seat and then check-in as close to check-in deadline to secure a better seat — you can often find a row multiple empty seats next to each other this way. When initially selecting your upgraded seat, choose the emptiest row and one of the middle seats — this will often deter others from booking neighboring seats. This hack will not work for full flights, so be sure to check the flight seat map a couple of days before checking in to make sure it isn’t almost full.
  5. Less developed countries may have limited access to feminine products and toilet paper in public places — store tampons or a menstrual cup in a soft makeup case and bring baby wipes just in case. Pack cotton swabs, tweezers, soft applicators etc in a small soft change purse (like the Hello Kitty one shown in #6 photo above) inside of your toiletry bag.
  6. Board the airplane last, unless the flight is very full. This will allow you to minimize your time in a claustrophobic plane cabin (especially if there are last minute delays) and you can often snag a better seat once everyone else has boarded.
  7. Many airlines board the back of the plane first and disembark the front first, so if you have a short connection window, try claiming a seat in the front rows.
  8. Read hotel reviews carefully on TripAdvisor, prior to booking and use the review search feature to identify chronic issues that you want to avoid. how to search tripadvisor reviews
  9. Many international locations don’t have Uber or other American car share services. Research what the locals use and download it before departure to save on airport transfers.
  10. Have a short overnight layover and want to get some shut-eye? Try searching Tripadvisor for “near airport” in your city and then filter by Lodging to locate the best nearby options. tripadvisor hotels near airport
  11. If using Airbnb, book the fewest nights you are comfortable within the app and then negotiate better rates to stay with the owner at check out time. This won’t work for high-traffic occasions, such as national events, when everything is over-booked.
  12. Stock up on complimentary extra drinks and snacks on high-end airlines to take with you for overnight layovers.

These are my favorite tips and how I pack light for longer solo female trips. The peace of mind and comfort that comes from having your items safe and easy to carry around will be worth whatever novelty items you may not have with you. Once you try packing light once or twice, take note of the items that you packed that you didn’t use at all — perhaps those can stay home next time!

Thanks for reading and sharing,


P.S. Are there any carry-on items you won’t travel without that I missed? What are the best products and accessories you use that have made your trip more comfortable and made you more mobile?

travel packing tips extended hacks for women

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Download my FREE comprehensive travel packing checklist for any vacation tailored just for women and solo female travelers!
Download the Free Packing Checklist Now

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Jane September 8, 2018 - 8:01 pm

I love these tips for packing for travel. I like especially the idea of using a vacuum method to compress clothing for a better fit. Lots of good advice that I will be sure to use next time I have to pack for travel.

Jackie October 8, 2018 - 9:44 am

Excited about the electronic organizers! Thanks for sharing. Good Christmas gift idea as well.

Sasha October 8, 2018 - 1:12 pm

Yes! I was just thinking last night that I need to get started on my Christmas gift lists for travelers, foodies and bloggers!

Heather Pelletier November 7, 2018 - 6:29 pm

Great list for solo travel! I’m impressed…I also travel solo and found out that I can live out of a carryon for a month (you can always go shopping at your destination right?). The only must have item I didn’t see was the “Trtl Pillow” (there are some less expensive knock offs, but this one really does work!). It is compact and provides the best neck support for those long trips. It is now available on Amazon, so you should put it on your click through list. 🙂 Love you website, by the way. It is very nicely laid out and put together. Good job on the hustle girl! 🙂

Sasha November 8, 2018 - 1:46 pm

First of all, thanks for visiting and for the compliment! I tried the TRTL pillow and hated it! LOL


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