5 Items to Keep Your Backpack Organized When You Travel

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Growing up, I was really, really messy. If you had walked into my teenage bedroom you would have come across: a mountain of clothes piled atop my desk chair (that included everything I had and hadn’t worn to school that week), books and binders scattered around my bed (because I couldn’t work at the desk since the chair was covered in clothes), and an extensive collection of mugs and empty plates (because aside from being a messy teenager I was also a big snacker).

5 Items to Keep Your Backpack Organized When You Travel: Keep your backpack organized when you travel.

Needless to say, this disorganization kind of filtered its way into my packing once I started travelling in my late teens and early twenties. 

I could never understand why I always found myself with a labyrinth of a suitcase by Day 2 of a trip and it used to drive me crazy.

Where was my shampoo and that clean pair of underwear when I needed it?

Oh, how times have changed!

Over the past few years of travel and living out of a suitcase, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about organization out of necessity.

Not only have I learned to pack only what I’ll wear and keep things light, but I’ve also learned to keep my backpack organized so that I’m never rummaging when I need something. 

Today we’re going to look at 5 items that can help YOU keep your luggage tidy too.

How to keep your backpack organized when you travel: Tips to keep your luggage tidy on the road!

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are the best because they prevent your luggage from becoming an absolute mess by Day 2.

Packing cubes allow you to compartmentalize your clothes so that you know where everything is: 1 cube for pants and shorts, 1 cube for t-shirts and tank tops, 1 cube for cardigans and sweaters, 1 cube for socks and undies, and voila, you’re set!

I’d also recommend packing cubes that have mesh at least on one side so that you can easily see what’s inside of them.

I also think this makes a great travel gift for friends and family.

Hanging Toiletry Kit 

I’m all about travelling with a hanging toiletry – it makes life so much easier!

Whether you’re  staying in a hostel where you can’t really scatter all your stuff around, or you have your own private bathroom but very limited counter space, this item comes in really handy.

Not only do hanging toiletry kits allow you to keep everything you need for the bathroom in one single place, but you can also compartmentalize things so that they are easier to find: one section for your toothpaste, toothbrush, and dental floss; a section for travel sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash; and so on.

Electronics Organizer

This one probably isn’t necessary for the average traveller, but if you travel with a lot of electronics, cables, batteries, hard drives, and chargers like Sam and I do, it can be a really nifty way of keeping things organized.

These organizers come in different sizes and they can be easily packed into your checked luggage.

This way you’re not siftisng through your luggage whenever you need that laptop charger or spare camera battery.

Laundry Bag

Because you don’t want your dirty laundry mixing in with your clean clothes (cross contamination, ewww!)

But seriously, I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves shoving dirty laundry into plastic bags or external luggage pockets more than once before.

A travel laundry bag means you can keep all your dirties in once place until you find a laundromat in your next destination.

Packable Shelves

So this is a fairly new travel product that I haven’t yet had a chance to use myself, however, I’ve been seeing it featured in press releases that land in my inbox.

The idea is that you pack your clothes into this 3-tier stackable shelf so that when you arrive at your destination, your clothes are wrinkle-free and you can hang up the shelf in the closet.

It’s something that I think would work for short weekend trips or business trips where you are packing carry-on, but it’s not something I can see myself using for long-term travel (I tend to be away for months at a time and my clothes would not fit on 3 shelves).

So there you have it, 5 items that can help keep your luggage organized next time you travel.

If you know of any other tips, tricks, or useful items, please feel free to share those in the comments section below.

What are your tips for keeping your backpack organized?

Osprey Sojourn: The Best Backpack for Travel

Join the Conversation


  1. I have all of these in varying forms apart from the shelves and the hanging toiletries bag. I cannot believe I haven’t invested in a hanging toiletries bag until now – it looks so practical!

    Out of all of those, though, I cannot live without my packing cubes. They were the best investment (other than my backpack) that I made when I hit the road!

  2. says: Kassie

    Packing cubes were my saving grace on my last backpacking trip! I should totally look into a laundry bag though. I ended up putting dirty laundry in a pillowcase some hostel owner let me have ?

  3. says: Zascha

    I’ve just started my trip around the world and it only took me about one hour after I had arrived at my first destination (Italy), to realize that I had brought too much stuff with me that I will probably never ever need.
    I’m going crazy every time I try to find something. However, my packing cubes, laundry bag and my hanging toiletry kit does help a lot! 🙂

  4. Great list- I need to invest in some packing cubes. They look like they might solve my ‘where is that t-shirt’ problem I always have!! My main organisation item is super large snap lock bags, which are great for protecting important elements, keeping things separate and dry (ie. electronics cables, toiletries or documents).

  5. says: Angela Seager

    Great read, it took me a while to realise that I needed some form of organisation and so what works for me is the use of plastic bags.
    So for instance I use an H&M plastic bag for my teeshirts which I neatly fold and place into. Another plastic bag for underwear & bras, another for socks. All my electronic gear, adaptors, rechargers, cables, tablet, go into another plastic bag. All my dirty laundry go into a brightly coloured plastic bag, and I use one very light plastic hanger for all my shirts, blouses, and evening tops. And lastly, I use re-sealable food bags for my toiletries…You actually get these free at the airport when you place 100 ml bottles of liquids into them. I’m all for recycling!

  6. says: Dan at Budget Jetsetter

    The packing cubes you mentioned are a great idea. However they’re already unavailable on Amazon!

  7. I am a photographer who travels a lot in Asia where it is hot and humid or more hot and more humid. Plastic zip bags of various sizes are an essential part of my travel equipment. They keep my computer and camera gear dry and visible so I can quickly find something. I try to use fan rooms but sometimes I surrender and use the air conditioning. The zip bags prevent condensation from forming on the delicate electronics inside my equipment. And, finally, they save my precious Bolivar cigars from getting too wet or dry; they make perfect little humidors!

  8. says: Adam S.

    I use packing cubes in my 40L Osprey and it works out well. Most people tend to over pack when they go on a trip. A good size carry on backpack should be all you need if not traveling for more than 5 days.

  9. says: Kathy

    My dirty laundry follows me all the way home. I use a compression bag, the kind you can roll and all the air goes out or you can vacuum the air out of them… No odor until you get to the washing machine!

  10. says: Shuvo

    You’re absolutely right about packing cube. My bag seems so organized when I pack. But after opening it few time it becomes a real nasty mess. Packing Cubes is a must for me.

    Backpacks having many separate pockets and compartment is preferred in my choice.
    Which type of backpack do you like most?

    One suggestion. Google chrome showing “Not Secure” near your site url in the url bar. It looks scary! It will be better if you install ssl certificate on your site. Just saying, don’t mind. 🙂

  11. says: Ryan

    Aggghhhhh the dilemma of packing light vs. packing thorough. In my experience, it all boils down to FOMO.

    “What if I want to journal when I’m there?”
    “What if I want to workout when I’m there?”
    “Do I bring my DSLR or just use my phone?”

    Everything takes up space, so it’s hard to decide which experiences you are willing to forgo, to keep everything lean and light. Still, I usually err on the side of less is more.

    Good suggestions on keeping everything in its place!

  12. says: Christina

    Cubes are the best for travel organization! 🙂 I even have a small plastic container (kind of like a tupperware) for basic medicine and bandages – I actually pack two of those; one in my carry-on and one in my main luggage.

  13. says: Nat

    Don’t call me out like this! 😛
    I also used to be the MESSIEST person. Only when I started living with my boyfriend, who, bless his heart, is even messier than me, did I start changing.
    While traveling, I had the same problem. I would tend to overpack because in all my chaos, I could barely make out what I’d already packed. But it got better over time! Packing cubes are indeed super helpful and sorting everything by category was a real game changer. A hanging shelf is the one thing I haven’t considered yet, that’s a great idea for longer trips!

  14. says: Betsy Blocker Munson

    As I pack for a 10 day expedition on the Amazon River this information is invaluable! I need “nice” for the hotel in Manaus as well for the rainforest – Two sets of packing cubes! Keep traveling no matter your age!

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