How I stay organized when I travel (plus: $100 gift card giveaway!)

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No matter if I travel somewhere for a short amount of time or if I stay in a place for longer, I need to be able to access all my stuff quickly and to pack and unpack my luggage as fast as possible. Nothing drives me crazier than rummaging through my bag or suitcase, trying to locate something. Thankfully I have become much more organized over the years and nowadays, I’ve got my bag packed and unpacked within only a few minutes. And I have to thank smart packing systems for that – from the packing cubes I’ve been raving over and over again to other packing organizing tools, like a laundry bag, shoe sacs, cosmetic bags and an awesome hanging toiletry organizer I recently found.Containerstore Toiletries Organizer closedOrganizing tools to make packing more efficient, and clothing and storage organizers specifically for travelers have literally revolutionized the way I travel and pack. So where do you find these practical items? At the Container Store®! I could get lost in the Container Store® for hours (and spend hundreds of dollars) discovering new organizing systems and taking advantage of the store’s amazing bargain prices.Containerstore Toiletries Organizer

My most recent purchases at the Container Store® include:

So how do I organize my stuff when I travel? Here are my best tips how to pack and organize your belongings efficiently when traveling:

Pack systematically

Before you start packing, decide where you are planning to put each individual item. I have three large packing cubes for example, and I use each for different things. Once I decided which cube to use for what, I always kept it the same way to ensure I’d find quickly what I needed. The same goes for my various shoe sacs, different toiletry and cosmetics bags, and my smaller packing cubes for miscellaneous items.

Optimize your suitcase space

The next thing is to optimize the amount of space you have inside your suitcase. I did that by trying out various ways to fit all my packing cubes and other items until I found the best way to fit them all, which means the way where I still have room left once I’ve packed everything. That is because I know I end up picking up souvenirs along the way. Every time I pack my suitcase now, I pack it the exact same way – which saves me lots of time! No more squeezing and moving things around until I finally manage to close it.ebags packing cubes

Unpack the smart way

This is especially important for me when I stay longer in a place, and since I have started to slow down quite a bit, I tend to spend more than just a couple of nights in a place. When I arrive, I like to unpack right away to get rid of the ‘living out of a suitcase’ feel and I organize my belongings the same way everywhere I go. Most hotels don’t really think about easy unpacking, but there is one exception:

A new hotel concept for organized travelers

TownePlace Suites by Marriott®, the Marriott brand that focuses on long-term stays (meaning anything over four nights). TownePlace Suites® teamed up with Container Store® in 2014 in order to make it easier for travelers to stay organized. We all know that sad-looking closet with nothing more than a few hangers inside – which is the reason so many of us live out of a suitcase instead of unpacking – but TownePlace Suites® decided that it was time to change that.containerstoreTogether with Container Store®, they installed the elfa® closet system (which is a custom closet that boasts loads of different storage options) in 11 of their hotels – I can basically organize my stuff in the elfa® closet system the same way I’d organize it in my bag, without feeling like I’m living out of a suitcase. Not only does the system offer me several levels of hanging space, various closet rods and a shoe shelf, but also a gliding drawer for suitcases, t-shirts and other folded items.packingIn case you haven’t stayed at a TownePlace Suites® hotel yet (you can see some photos and their latest deals if you follow TownePlace Suites® Facebook, here are some other reasons why you’d want to consider them for your next trip – especially if you’re a digital nomad like me or travel for business:  aims to make long-term stays as homey as possible, offering spacious studios as well as one- and two-bedroom suites with separate living/working spaces. The hotels are ideal for business travelers and digital nomads alike with its ergonomic in-room work space, full kitchens and free wi-fi.

My terrific Christmas giveaway for you!

Tps_oc_fcl_zpse5201e1dTownePlace Suites® is giving away a $100 gift card towards your next stay at a TownePlace Suites®! All you have to do to be entered in the raffle is to answer the following question:

What would you use the most in the elfa® closet to stay organized while traveling?

Share your thoughts in the comments below to be entered in the giveaway – please note that this contest is only running until 31 December 2014 and for U.S. residents only.

**This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Must be 21+. The content ends 31 December 2014. (Click here for official rules)
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  1. I would use my button down shirts and skirts the most in the elfa closet to stay organized while traveling. Want them to stay wrinkle free.

  2. What a smart idea! I love to travel and I’ve traveled extensively for work in the past. Being able to unpack my clothes always makes a big difference in how I’m able to settle in. The additional hanging room is great because I’ll hang anything that can hang to avoid wrinkles. I never put stuff in the drawers provided in hotels, but if they were clean and airy like the Container Store ones, I probably would unpack folded clothes. They’re really onto something with this partnership.

  3. I couldn’t live without a hanging toiletries bag! So many cramped bathrooms don’t offer any space to put anything… But mine is a cheap no-name; does the trick.

  4. Wow! The intentional space for the suitcase sounds amazing. What a great way to have more space and have your hotel room feel like home. Can’t wait to try it!

  5. I use ebags so that my clothes are separated by days and I have everything I need right at my finger tips – I also use ziploc bags to make sure nothing leaks! I love the elfa closet – looks great! truckredford(at)gmail(Dot)com

  6. The shoe rack would be useful, but I think I would most utilize the gliding drawer for folded items. I like to unpack my clothes and keep certain items together if I am going to be somewhere for more than one night. The extra hangars are great, too.

  7. The shelf is ideal for me. I like to leave my clothes in the cubes but leave the cubes unzipped. Easy access this way without having to remove each item.

  8. I research before we arrive online and in our guidebooks if we have them. I find fellow travellers blogs a gold mine of valuable information.

  9. I stay organized by packing well. In particular, I use those animal rubber bands (shapes of animals) to keep all of my clothes rolled. This saves a lot of space and is a fun use for my rubber bands. I also make sure to put clothes in my backpack by themes. So for example, I would put casual clothes on the top, and then outdoors clothes on the bottom.

  10. The different levels of hanging space! Rarely is there enough space for hanging everything, so I love this design. Love the whole design.

  11. I would definitely use the shoe rack as well as the hanging rod the must. Shoes and dresses are a must when I travel. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.
    fairyfractal at gmail dot com

  12. I’d using the gliding drawers and extra hanging space. Though I have to say that I love the dedicated spot for your luggage. It’s nice to have somewhere to tuck that away!

  13. This is amazing! I would love to have such a spacious closet while traveling (so true about the sad closet with a few hangers). I feel like there are always things I packed that I never end up wearing since everything is stuffed in the suitcase, it would be much easier to have it all hung up like this.

  14. A laundry bag is essential if you don’t want dirty clothes mixed up with clean ones! I use a hanging organizer also keep things together and accessible. I also keep essential items packed together, clothes I will need the first night get packed on top, etc. Shoes get wrapped in plastic grocery bags, but the shoe rack in the closet would sure come in handy!

  15. I would utilize both the glide-out drawers and the shoe rack. They are both great ideas which would make staying organized so much easier.

  16. I hope this contest is still running because I would like to win! Not sure though because you have listed two different ending dates the 14th and the 31st. Anyway, here goes: what I would love most in a closet organizing system like that in a hotel would be the shelves. I end up laying all my things out on top of the desk usually and then using my laptop on my bed which I don’t like. But I feel like I need to spread things out so shelving would work well for me. Thanks for the fun contest and to learn about the new Elfa shelving at the TownePlace Marriott

  17. I love the shelves and drawer in the closet. I like having all my things in one place instead of in dresser drawers and a separate small closet.

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