Rustic Pathways Travel Experts Share Their Best Packing Tips

Added together, Rustic staff members have visited thousands of countries and spent years traveling and living abroad. I asked these travel aficionados and packing ninjas to share their secrets. Keep reading for some of the most ingenious travel and packing hacks you’ll ever hear!
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1. Solid or powdered toiletries | Lauren Alvarez, School Partnerships Manager
“Those little bottles of toiletries always explode in my bags and are never enough product for the long trips I take. I bring solid or powder versions of everything—solid shampoo (that can double as soap or laundry soap in a pinch!), dry deodorant powder, and dry shampoo. They also make dry toothpaste tablets! Check out Lush for some great options.”

2. Roll your clothing | Braden Betts, Laos and Myanmar Country Director
“Either roll clothes or fold as few times as possible. Maximizes space in your bag. Folding creates bulky shapes. It’s science.”

3. You only need two pairs of shoes | Lauren Anderson, Director of Program Staffing and Training
“You never need the third pair of shoes. Ever. Doesn’t matter what the trip is or how long you’ll be away for. I’ve found that everyone stares at that third pair of shoes wondering whether they’ll need them, and then pack them just in case. Shoes are insanely bulky and truly, you will never use that third pair.”

4. Find the right backpack | Jessie Wachter, Global Program Advisor
“When purchasing a backpack, make sure to get it fitted for your body and choose one that is both front and top load to keep from having to dig to the very bottom from the top! I also I keep my shoes in a sleeping bag stuff sack so they can be packed next to my clothes and not get them dirty (and a mesh bag for laundry).”

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5. Packing cubes | Jared Kahan, East Coast Outreach Manager
“I use three packing cubes—one for tops, one for bottoms, and one for socks and underwear. When I open my bag, nothing ever gets unorganized and it takes me seconds to repack. A MUST.”

6. Change of clothes | Emily Sanders, Program Staffing Coordinator
“Always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. You never know when your bag will get lost in transit.”

7. Deck of cards | Kevin Porter, Global Program Operations Director
“Bringing the world together since forever, or at least since playing cards were invented and before cell phones ruined everything.”

8. Drybag | Kelly Moynihan, Peru Country Director
“I always travel with a drybag for my electronics—I know where they are and that they’re protected from water. Also doesn’t hurt to have a ziplock bag for your cellphone. That way you can take pictures with it at the beach or on the water and make sure it’s protected.”

9. Plane pouch | Lena Baker, Fiji Program Manager
“I have a small pouch with headphones, socks, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask, travel size deodorant, face wipes, tiger balm, essential oils, and chapstick that I always put on the top of my carry on. On a long flight, when I’m tired and it’s dark, these are the things I most often want (need), but are the smallest and tend to get lost at the bottom of my carry on. As soon as I got on the plane, I put my plane pouch in the seat pocket and can rest easy!”

10. Sewing kit | Alex Biddle, Dominican Republic Program Manager
“These can really come in handy when you’re traveling light and one of you clothing items rips or gets damaged (which happens on our programs). Also a small pair of scissors and some extra string always helps when you need to be a creative problem solver.”

11. Remove batteries from electronics | Ellery Rosin, Program Staffing Assistant
“Take the batteries out of electronics when you pack them or make sure they’re in the locked off position. I’ve opened my bag after a long journey to find a headlamp or camera on and the batteries almost dead way too many times.”

12. Glasses case storage | Marc Mankowski | USA Country Director
“Use your glasses/sunglasses case as device to hold all of your chargers, cords, and batteries.”

13. Crocs | Zack Kraushar | Cambodia Program Manager
“A cheap pair of Crocs is perfect for service, especially on those wet, muddy, days in the village. They are breathable, toe-covered, and are easy to clean and dry so they don’t smell bad the next day!”

14. Extra plastic shopping bags | Emily Greiff, Website Coordinator
“I always pack extra plastic bags for bathing suits, shoes, dirty laundry, and anything else I don’t want to ruin the rest of the things in my luggage. Ziplocks are great too for any liquids (shampoo, bug spray, etc…) that you might be traveling with.”

15. Sleep sack | Liz Ronzio, Social Media Manager
“I just feel more comfortable sleeping in my own sheets.”

We hope these inspire you when packing for your adventures this summer!