As a travel writer and the founder of packing site Just Packed, I’ve found that there’s only one way to minimize stress and maximize efficiency within the packing process: preparation. No matter the length of your trip, it’s always beneficial to take the time to think through what (and how) you’re packing. Sometimes, that means devising a list of your trip outfits a week before your departure. Other times, it’s ensuring your bathroom cabinets are well-stocked with travel-sized toiletries for easy grab-and-go packing the night before. 

With summer travel just days away — and can’t-miss Memorial Day sales already popping up online — now’s the perfect time to begin your packing game plan for the next few months. I recommend taking stock of the packing essentials you currently have (things like suitcases, packing cubes, and toiletry bags), and determining if there are any you may need to acquire or replace. And if you’re not sure which pieces to invest in for an overall easier time packing? I can help. 

Below, I combed through Amazon’s travel gear deals to find the best, highest-reviewed packing essentials, including a set of packing cubes and a durable, expandable suitcase. With these items in your travel arsenal, you’ll be completely ready to take advantage of any last-minute trips or weekend getaways this season — and you won’t have to spend a ton of money to do so. 

Hotor Packing Cubes


I’m a firm believer that every traveler can benefit from using packing cubes – whether they’re traveling with a carry-on or a checked bag. They’re ideal for keeping the contents of your suitcase organized, and I find they’re also useful for storing dirty clothes, damp bathing suits, or anything you’d rather keep separate from everything else. I usually suggest opting for sets of packing cubes that come with a variety of sizes, like this one from Hotor. For under $10, you get three packing cubes, a shoe bag, a drawstring pocket, and an underwear bag. 

Traveler’s Choice Pagosa Carry-On Spinner


Suitcases can run the gamut in price, but you don’t have to spend a pretty penny for a high-quality, decent-sized piece of luggage. Case in point: The Traveler’s Choice Pagosa Carry-On Spinner, which is currently on sale for under $70 (in certain colors). Armed with a scratch and water-resistant polypropylene hardshell, the bag comes with a built-in USB port, an interior power bank compartment, and 360-degree spinner wheels. It also has top and side rubber carry handles and an adjustable telescoping handle for greater maneuverability. Finally, all good carry-ons should have at least a couple of interior organization functions, and this one is designed with several zippered pockets and interior compression straps to keep your clothing secure. 

Vorspack Transparent Shoe Bags


Packing cubes usually steal the spotlight in the travel world, but don’t sleep on transparent (and affordable) shoe bags. Most travelers buy them to keep more delicate shoes from scuffing while in transit, but I also tend to use them to transport toiletries, socks, underwear, or other smaller-sized items. I might even pack an empty one or two — as they hardly take up any precious suitcase real estate — in case I have a need for an extra bag or organizational compartment during my trip.  

Iniu Portable Charger


There are some travel stresses that simply cannot be avoided (like delayed or canceled flights). Your phone battery dying because you can’t find a working outlet, however, does not need to be one of them. The night before I’m set to travel somewhere, I always make sure my portable charger is full of power and safely packed away in my bag. By buying a charger like this one from Iniu, I’ve never again had to experience the stress of arriving at my destination, only to realize I can’t call an Uber or access Google Maps until I find a plug to revive my phone battery. 

Raycon Everyday Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds 


For a long time, I swore by my large, noise-canceling headphones. While they’re comfortable and nearly impossible to lose, they take up a not-insignificant amount of room in my bag. To pack a bit lighter, I’ll switch out the bulky headphones for a pair of earbuds, like the Raycon Everyday Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds. On sale for 25 percent off, they’re the perfect alternative when you want to listen to your music or audiobook on the go, but you don’t have a ton of extra space. 

Kebnor Handheld Travel Steamer


The key to looking put-together while traveling is simple: You need a steamer. Forget the hotel iron (it takes too long to set up anyway), and leave the extra-large steamer at home. Instead, whip out the Kebnor Handheld Travel Steamer, currently marked down by 33 percent. In just 15 seconds, it will steam for eight minutes, allowing you to quickly freshen up your linen top or wrinkled pants. Plus, it’s small enough to easily slip into a personal item bag or a tiny space between your packing cubes. 

Tocelffe TSA Approved Silicone Travel Containers


Any traveler with a set beauty or skincare routine will know the struggle of packing your toiletries. Not all shampoos, conditions, moisturizers, and serums come in travel-sized containers, and you’ll frequently need to transport them in smaller containers when you’re only traveling with a carry-on bag — or risk airport security throwing them away. By having these Tocelffe TSA Approved Silicone Travel Containers on hand, you can use the funnel or spatula (both of which come with the set) to easily transfer your favorite products into either the silicone bottles, spray bottles, or cream jars. 

Bevegekos Cord Organizer Storage Case


Organization comes naturally to some travelers. For others, it’s a constant struggle, usually accented by unnecessary stress and worry. If you fall into the latter camp, you may benefit from the Bevegekos Cord Organizer Storage Case. Marked down to under $7, the travel pouch is designed to keep all of your electronic gadgets — like a power bank, charger cables, earbuds, and adapters — stored safely in one place. Gone are the days of digging through your backpack in a panic, searching for your charger or extra battery before your phone dies. 

Niveaya Hat Clip


If the beach, pool, or a generally strong sun will make an appearance in your travel plans this summer, you might be contemplating bringing along a sun hat. While important for sun protection, a wide-brimmed hat isn’t always the easiest accessory to pack — unless you use a magnetic hat clip. On sale for under $22, the Niveaya Hat Clip snaps onto your hat and then clips onto your tote bag or backpack, allowing for hands-free transportation. Thank me later.

Vorolo Crossbody Belt Bag


Whenever I’m flying, I’ll usually have an empty shoulder bag or belt bag tucked into my carry-on suitcase or personal item bag. That’s because while I like to have a smaller, on-the-go bag to use upon arrival, I also want to avoid an extra bag charge. The Vorolo Crossbody Belt Bag is the perfect example of this type of packable accessory. Not only is it functional (the nylon material is waterproof), but it’s sleek enough to wear with a variety of outfits and it can be worn as a crossbody bag, fanny pack, or an across-the-chest style. 

Travel Inspira Luggage Scale


A few years ago, I finally caved and bought a luggage scale — and I’ve never looked back. Prior to leaving for the airport, I’ll use it to measure the weight of my checked bag (instead of hoping for the best upon check-in). It’s also small enough to bring along on trips. That way, if you happen to pick up a few souvenirs, you can reweight the contents of your suitcase and adjust accordingly. I promise this will be the best $8 you’ve ever spent. 

Balulhg Travel Toiletry Bag 


A reliable, spacious toiletry bag is non-negotiable in my book, and I even have a few different shapes and sizes that I can alternate between on trips. One of my favorites is a hanging toiletry bag. It has enough room for all of my everyday products, and it’s designed so I don’t have to go digging through the bag to pull out a particular one. This style from Balulhg comes in two sizes, medium and large (as well as a variety of colorways), so you can pick whichever one makes the most sense based on how many products you typically travel with. 

Npcqun Compact Umbrella


An umbrella is often a forgotten packing essential, but I’ve learned the hard way you should always have one tucked into your luggage. While you might not use it every day, it’s the type of item that can make or break a trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere with an ever-changing forecast. When broken down, this umbrella is only 11.5 inches in length, and it can easily be tucked into the bottom of your tote bag or the side of your suitcase. 

Molnia Travel Backpack


If you, like me, rarely travel without a laptop, it might be time to reevaluate how you’re transporting it from place to place. I try to always carry mine in a backpack, as it saves any undue pressure on my shoulders or arms. Marked down by 20 percent with an on-page coupon, this travel backpack can fit more than just a laptop, though. There’s plenty of space for clothes, a pair of shoes, a book, and even a small toiletry kit. And the best part? It’s still compact enough to fit under the airplane seat in front of you.

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