For many of us travelers, the lining of our suitcase is zero space – unaccounted for when we plan our packing lists and set to the job of cramming it all in. For others, the lining of our suitcase might simply be a place to store soiled and dirty clothing, separated from the rest of our luggage. I use my suitcase liner pocket a little differently. By using the liner of my suitcase smartly, I can set out on a trip knowing I’m ready for the unexpected.
Through cleverly and efficiently tucking a few supplies into the liner of my suitcase, I can be prepared for all the twists and turns of travel (well, ok, maybe not all of them). But having the right items tucked away into the liner of our suitcase can help us be prepared for many of the common and less-common disruptions of travel, so we can keep enjoying our travel without skipping a beat.
The liner of the suitcase can be a traveler’s best friend. A suitcase liner compartment is an excellent place to store items that belong in the following categories:
1. Things you don’t expect to need at all during your travels but need to carry just in case you do,
2. Things you think you probably won’t need,
3. Items you’ll use only a few times during your trip but otherwise would like out-of-the-way.
The lining of the suitcase also makes a great storage space because it’s not a compartment you’ll be digging into frequently. The problem with storing things in the most convenient pockets is that frequent digging in those pockets and pouches for cash, keys, or other essentials actually increases the risk that we might accidentally displace, drop, or move something critical for our trip. This is where the lining of the suitcase can be extra helpful storage: it’s a generally undisturbed storage spot for important things.
What I store in my Suitcase Liner Pocket
Color photocopy of my travel documents + credit card
The lining of your suitcase is a good place to store important backup documents like a photocopy of your passport and driver’s license (I generally carry a photocopy of two forms of ID in case I need to prove my citizenship or expedite the process of replacing a passport while overseas). Into the liner of my suitcase, I also place an emergency credit card or secondary debit card.
With these items stowed in the suitcase’s liner, I know that if my handbag was stolen or my travel daypack was slashed I’d still have access to the money and the documents needed to get home. Generally, it’s highly unlikely that a traveler will lose all of their luggage.
Although it’s possible your handbag may get lifted or your luggage might get pilfered through in a hotel or airport, carrying important documents on your person with a backup locked in a hotel room ensures that in almost every scenario of luggage theft you’ll still have have a backup plan, a way to get home, and the resources to continue to enjoy the rest of your trip without having to make severe changes to your plans.
Even if your suitcase is stolen, there’s a chance your backup documents and payment would remain unnoticed- tucked into an obscure and typically-unused spaced behind the liner of your suitcase.
Ziploc bags, string, a couple of rubber bands, and a safety pin.
If you’re traveling for more than a week or two, and especially if you’re backpacking internationally and sleeping in hostels, these are essentials worth taking. Zip locks, string, and safety pins have countless uses for travelers, including food storage, securing items in your luggage, making a makeshift clothesline, and many other uses.
Another item that takes up essentially no space in the liner of your suitcase but can come in handy in 100 ways is rubber bands. Toss in a few in varying sizes – they can wait in the liner pocket at the ready if you need them to organize bundles of clothing in your suitcase or bundle other items while traveling.
These simple essentials take up zero space – well, essentially zero space – and even though you might not need them, they can be placed in the lining of your suitcase for this trip and for future trips without wasting precious suitcase space. Tucked into the liner of your suitcase, these helpful tiny essentials will always be there when you need them- And trust me, once you carry these items, you will need them – they solve so many problems on the road!
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For female travelers, planning for the unexpected is always a good idea. Trying to find the right products on the road isn’t always easy, so carrying them- even if you don’t think you’ll need them- can be a good idea.
If you have access to a vacuum sealer – like the type used in kitchens for food storage – using small vacuum bags can be a great way to store pads and tampons in less space. This makes them easy to tuck into your suitcase liner (incidentally, vacuum sealing a bathing suit can be a great way to have a swimsuit handy just in case you have the opportunity to swim on a vacation where swimming isn’t necessarily anticipated).
While many solo female travelers use menstrual cups, they’re not for everyone and carrying a form of backup product can be helpful in any case. Pads, tampons, and panty liners fit easily into the lining of the suitcase without adding bulk to your luggage or piles of products that scatter and intermingle with other items in the main compartment of your suitcase.
In my suitcase, the liner also always includes at least one reusable pad. These soft cotton liners are easily hand-washed in a sink and are infinitely reusable (meaning, if I find myself on a long-term trip completely out of products I packed and unable to locate the particular type of products that work for me, I know I have a backup.) – It’s also super environmentally friendly to have a reusable washable form of period products while traveling.
A sewing kit.
Nobody plans to need a sewing kit, but when faced with a minor tear or other textile problem on the road, having a sewing kit packed in your luggage can be a lifesaver. Because it’s not something I plan to use regularly, I keep my sewing kit in the lining of my luggage – zipped between the suitcase liner and the exterior shell of my luggage.
Sewing kits come in all shapes and sizes, but for the basic traveler, you only need a few essential items – a needle, black and white thread, and a small pair of scissors if you don’t already carry a pair (I keep scissors on hand as part of my travel journal supplies). If you tear a hole in a jacket or catch your favorite shirt on something, you can save it before the tear gets even bigger. By mending instead of throwing away, you can save money on traveling in the long run.
It’s okay if you don’t know how to sew- pack one anyway. Simple hand stitching is only a degree harder than using a stapler! And, with Internet access in just about every corner of the world, if you need to stitch a repair into your travel clothing or travel gear, you can pull up a simple YouTube video on how to hand sew a mend of a tear. It’s so easy that you can learn and repair in the space of about 10 minutes.
I prefer this mini sewing kit designed for repairing outdoor gear. You’ll have everything you need to do a high-quality repair on luggage, suitcases, or backpacks- plus the basics for repairing a garment or other textile.
A waterproof pouch for my phone
Unless you are headed on a tropical beach vacation, you probably won’t plan for your phone to get wet, but I have found – particularly as a solo traveler – that having a waterproof pouch for my phone has come in handy on more than a few occassions even on the trips to locations that aren’t typical swimming spots – like Plitvice Park in Croatia and Patagonia. A waterproof pouch for your phone can be helpful when visiting locations where you just might get wet or risk dropping your phone in water.
As you can see, using the liner of your suitcase for storage offers some opportunities to add important essentials to your packing list without making a mess of your luggage. At some point in the last few decades, suitcase manufacturers began adding a zipper in the lining of most suitcases and luggage. This liner not only provides a smooth surface on the inside of the suitcase, but a zipper installed discreetly in the lining adds an additional compartment to the suitcase. By stuffing the lining, you can put items in your suitcase separated from the main compartment.
Storing dirty laundry in the zippered suitcase liner compartment
Many people use the lining of their suitcase to store their dirty laundry until they get home from their trip. The zippered liner helps provide a barrier between soiled clothing and clean laundry that is ready to be worn on your trip. The problem is that typically the only access to this suitcase liner compartment is via a zipper on the very bottom of the suitcase.
If you are living out of a suitcase – like many of us who jump from lodging to lodging on a trip where we move from city to city every few days- then using this lining your compartment to store dirty laundry becomes more of a hassle than a help. In order to place dirty laundry into the suitcase liner storage space, a suitcase has to be almost completely unpacked. For this reason, I prefer to carry a lightweight nylon stuff sack or a cotton tote bag. Both of these options are multi-use items of travel gear that can contain dirty laundry until you have time to return home, visit a laundry mat on your travels, or hand wash your laundry.
Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.
Wednesday 1st of February 2023
Liked most of your ideas. Do you put things in zip bags so they don't scatter around.
LynLi Roman M.A.
Thursday 2nd of February 2023
Yes! Sometimes I do!