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Cruise Packing Hack: How to Easily Organize Your Small Stuff

I'm always looking for savvy ways to make travel and packing easier. Here are some helpful items I think you'll love!

How to easily organize your small stuff.

How to easily organize your small stuff.

My Grab and Go Solution for Packing the Small Stuff

Are you tired of fumbling around for all the small items on your cruise vacation (or any trip, really)? You will love this hack for pulling and keeping it together and organized at home and onboard. This is a grab-and-go fix that makes packing a breeze. Some might say being this organized is over the top, but there is nothing more frustrating than being disorganized while living in a small, tight space.

I despise a messy cabin, and it makes it difficult for the cabin attendants to clean with many odds and ends lying around. It also takes a long time to round these items up when packing, and it never fails. I forget things and have to go shopping in port or settle for what I find onboard. To fix this, I've developed a great way to organize those small items.

Plastic Organizers Are the Way to Go

I keep most of my items in a larger organizer that's always stocked and ready to go (restocking at the end of each trip when I unpack), and I put jewelry in a smaller organizer. When I go to pack for the next trip, I only need to add my makeup items and toss the organizers into my carry-on bag.

Plastic organizers make packing for your cruise and staying organized while on board a breeze.

Plastic organizers make packing for your cruise and staying organized while on board a breeze.

Convenient Cruise Cabin Organization

As much as I appreciate the many drawers and cabinets cruise cabins provide, I still find myself searching for my smaller items, whether it be the top drawer of the desk, the side cabinet by the mirror, the bathroom medicine cabinet, or the nightstand. Before coming up with the idea to use these organizers, I was forever in search of my glasses or could never remember where I put my nail file. My makeup was in one bag, my sunscreen in another, and I know I brought a corkscrew, but which bag or drawer is it in?

I had a vision of an easy and pre-packed "grab-and-go case" that housed every small necessity I usually bring on a cruise. Everything inside must also be TSA-approved, so I can take it in my carry-on luggage since I only travel with a carry-on and a backpack as my personal item. Another nice thing about this is that if TSA wants to check any of these items, they can do so by efficiently pulling out the entire case.

I went to a few craft stores and looked at divided storage boxes, found a few I felt could work, and started sorting and moving things around until I created what I had envisioned—the perfect cruise-essentials case!

Divided Cases Make Cruise Organization Easy

I chose an organizer with decent depth, movable dividers, and secure latches. I bought it in two different sizes:

  • medium for my shorter trips (11 x 8 x 3 inches)
  • large for cruises and longer voyages (14 x 9 x 3 inches)

I use the large organizer to hold everything from sunglasses and towel clips to chargers and floss. See the second photo below for the complete list. I guarantee you will be impressed by how much you can fit into this organizer, not to mention how much easier it will be to stay organized for your trip.

Cruises are fun places to put your most fashionable foot forward when dressing for dinner, so fun jewelry is a must, but keeping track of it can be a pain. I also use the small one (9 x 5 x 1.2 inches) to organize my jewelry for the cruise in the same design. This solves the problem of lost or tangled jewelry pieces.

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Bonus: This small jewelry case easily fits into the stateroom or hotel-room safe.

Bonus Packing Tip: My Favorite Carry-On Bag

As I mentioned before, we continually cruise with only a carry-on bag. While I'm show-casing cruise packing from a woman's point of view, I have added below how my husband also travels with just a carry-on, utilizing his ultra-light trail backpacking pack.

I have five different "Vera Bradley" brand bags for weekend getaways and travel. I have found these to be the best combination for cruise packing, as they hold the most contents while still fitting nicely into most airline overhead compartments and under the seat:

  • I love the Vera Bradly Grand Traveler Bag as a catchall.
  • The Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Tech Backpack is perfect for my personal item.
  • For our money, lip balm, ship card, and credit cards, my husband and I each wear the very comfortable, stretchy, adjustable Spiebelt. I leave my purse at home, and my husband leaves his wallet as well. We have never found a reason to have an actual purse or wallet on any cruise to date, and this way is the safe way.

I'm not picky about the patterns for the pieces I buy, and the options with Vera Bradley are many, so I can almost always find great deals on my bags on Amazon or discontinued patterns from their website directly.

My favorite feature with the Vera Bradley line of bags is that they are made of super durable and lightweight quilted fabric that is washable and molds easily to the overhead bin space of the plane and under the seat. I stuff them as full as I can get away with!

We never want to risk losing luggage before cruising, so between our savvy packing hacks and traveling to the port one day early, we arrive stress-free. Our light packing preference and the small cabin space are what possessed me to find ways to pack and organize all the above items simplistically while fitting everything easily into carry-on luggage.

Three Weeks in Europe With Only Carry-ons!

We had at least 12 outfit combinations and various layering items in each of our packs. We traveled in October and had every weather scenario you could imagine across seven countries!

We had at least 12 outfit combinations and various layering items in each of our packs. We traveled in October and had every weather scenario you could imagine across seven countries!

If you found these packing tips for small items helpful, check out my article about cruise cabin organization for shoes and larger items.

Questions & Answers

Question: I like the idea of the Spiebelt instead of carrying a purse. Is there a model of the Spiebelt that's bigger or expandable to hold a passport and a case for hearing aids?

Answer: The large pocket Spiebelt (Expandable to 8" x 4"x 2") should hold both items. However, you don't need to carry your passport when in the cruise ports; your ship card serves as proof enough. But if you still wish to carry it, this is the link to the large size: Happy Cruising!

© 2019 Debra Roberts

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