Ask Unclutterer: Traveling with jewelry

Reader Katie submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I can’t seem to find a way to keep my jewelry organized while traveling. A simple solution, of course, would be to only bring one or two pieces when I travel, but for longer trips I don’t really like this option. Any suggestions? Thanks!

I’m more of a minimalist jewelry wearer when I travel, but my mom and sister-in-law are not. Over the years, I’ve noticed that both of them travel with a small velvet case especially made for traveling with jewelry. Their special cases have different areas for rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches. The one my mom carries even has strips of fabric that weave through the necklaces so they don’t become tangled.

There are numerous options available through Amazon (1, 2, and 3) and I suggest you find one that best meets your needs and go with it. These cases keep your jewelry organized during transit, and they are also extremely easy to toss into a safe in a hotel room.

Another option is to pack only highly versatile pieces that are suited well for travel. Pack earrings, a necklace, and a bracelet that can be worn with casual or dressy garments and that are a combination of a yellow gold and a silver metal (white gold, silver, steel, platinum, etc.). These two color options extend the possibilities for when you can wear them. In my case, I wear a wood watch that when turned around looks like a snazzy wood bracelet, which is perfect for day and evening.

Thank you, Katie, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Please check the comments for even more ideas from our readers. I’m sure there are other folks (jewelers?) who are constantly traveling with jewelry who will have even more ideas for you.

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38 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Traveling with jewelry”

  1. posted by Julie on

    I have a little travel jewelry bag that I received as a gift that I just love, it has little individual compartments for my jewelry and it protects everything quite nicely. There are tons like it available on Etsy – just search ‘drawstring jewelry pouch.’

  2. posted by JustGail on

    I don’t travel much, but do have tip for keeping the necklaces untangled – slip 1 side of the necklace through a straw and then fasten the clip.

    As far as the jewelry itself, I like a mix of gold/silver (and rose gold if possible) anyway. Also, instead of carrying multiple necklaces, would it work to have 1 chain with various pendant bits to swap?

  3. posted by Kristin on

    My necklaces are always a tangled disaster. The straw hack is brilliant!

  4. posted by Rayna on

    @JustGail That’s just bloody genius! :-)

    And I too take a chain and a few different pendants.

    My one rule when traveling to someplace other than, say, my parents is to take only jewelry that I can afford, financially and emotionally, to lose.

  5. posted by Alison on

    I find that taking a nice assortment of jewelry helps me to pack fewer clothes, and jewelry is much lighter to carry!

  6. Avatar of

    posted by luxcat on

    just don’t pack anything of emotional or financial value in any back that might be checked or stored away from your sight… there have been thefts (jewelry, electronics) from airline, hotel and other employees… keep anything of value with you or ask if the hotel has a safe box you can use.

  7. posted by Ideas on

    Even if you the only jewelry you’ll be taking is what you wear while you’re traveling, it’s still nice to have a place to put it when you’re getting ready for bed. I would recommend one of those valet trays in that case–the ones with snaps on the sides to unfold flat.

    The jewelry rolls are great if you tend to wear smaller, more delicate jewelry. If you wear bold jewelry like cocktail rings, cuff bracelets, etc., one of those jewelry rolls may not work. A drawstring pouch like Julie recommends works well for this–stick the big pieces in the main compartment and put smaller jewelry in the pockets that line the inside–but you have to be careful not to let the pouch get crushed.

    So I like the Audrey jewelry box from Pottery Barn. I think it’s being discontinued, so it’s on sale right now, plus it ships for free. I have the smallest one, the trunk, which is $15. It’s hard-sided to protect your jewelry from being crushed, and it has two compartments, one of which can hold a bangle or cuff bracelet and maybe a cocktail ring or pair of chandelier earrings, while the other has its own lid to hold other pieces. There is not much organization inside, so you’ll want to add some small silk pouches like the ones you can find in Chinatown or at pearlriver.com to hold small jewelry.

  8. posted by JustGail on

    The straw idea is something I got from somewhere a long time ago.

    Rayna – interesting on the possiblility of loosing things at places other than your parents. It was at my parents that I lost an earring from a pair given to me by my son – outside swatting at a gnat buzzing my ear. I tried but could NOT find it in the grass.

    Alison – thanks for the reminder that often the accessories can change the outfit, not the other way around. Maybe substitute some nice scarves for jewelry?

  9. posted by Nana on

    And I don’t see the most important tip of all (yet) … take jewelry in your carry-on; don’t check it with your baggage.

  10. posted by Rayna on

    @JustGail – That’s sad :-( I guess there is always the chance that you can lose any piece of jewelry anywhere.

    I was more meaning (like luxcat said) that if there is any travel involved, like trains or such or hotels or countries rife with pickpockets, I am super careful with what I bring. When I went to Italy this year, I took a little jewelry wallet that my mom gave me, with a silver chain, a few pendants, a bracelet and that was pretty much it! And not a piece of it was sentimental or had any real value. In fact, I suspect the leather jewelry case was the most valuable piece of the lot!

  11. posted by Heather on

    A wood watch that doubles as a bracelet? Pics, please! Where can I find one?

  12. posted by Barb on

    I must be a minimalist. No matter what or how much I bring on a trip, I place it in a zip-lock plastic bag (sandwich size works well) that I can roll up and put in the zippered compartment inside my purse. While flying the purse is under the seat in front of me. In case we ever encountered an aircraft emergency, I can slip the bag out of my purse and shove it into my pocket.

    I have used hotel room safes when they’re available, but otherwise I just keep my stash with me at all times in my purse.

  13. posted by SarahA on

    On Corporette they had a post on how to use old business cards to keep your necklaces untangled. If you use that and a plastic bag or small box, that might be enough if you have chain type necklaces. I usually stuff everything in with my toiletries but I don’t have anything valuable.

  14. posted by Jen @ Light Enough to Travel on

    I love the straw idea. Clever!

    For me, I use a small, circular, clear plastic screw-top container, which incidentally used to contain coconut bath salts, so it smells fantastic even years later. You could also use an Altoids tin. It makes for a nice inconspicuous protective case, and I line it with a tissue to keep things from jostling around in there. I usually bring only easily-replaceable costume jewelry like faux pearls or CZ, and I make sure any shepherd’s hook earrings have the little plastic backing on them. I always wear the same rings so I don’t concern myself much with those.

    Bringing several pendants for one chain can also be done with beads and hoop earrings. I’ve often worn “sleeper” gold hoops (the kind you can leave in all the time) for traveling, and brought a small vial of beads in various colours to hang off them and change up the look from time to time.

    If I was going super-minimalist I would just go with the sleeper hoops and wedding band.

  15. posted by Amanda on

    If you use a lot of costume jewelry for each outfit (ie, different pieces of minimal value) you can put the jewelry for each outfit you pack in a ziplock baggie, then safety pin it to the outfit, then fold around it to back. The fabric will cusion the jewelry. If you re-use the jewelry, layout each outfit with jewelry before you pack, take a photo with digital camera or phone (that you will bring with you) then pack the jewelry with the first one you wear. Just make sure you leave the photo(s) on the device during your trip :)

    I do not do this – I’m a minimal packer who doesn’t plan outfits so much as coordinating seperates, but my friend has used this strategy before. I use a little jewelry roll that stays in my personal carry on myself.

    Happy trails,

  16. posted by Catherine on

    I use small pill containers (http://www.sealifegifts.net/Clam-CoinPill-Purse-2186.html) <– mine are made of shells like this, but anything this size would work. I find that, especially for small earrings, I can carry, say, three pairs of earrings in one, two necklaces in another, three rings in a third. The small size itself keeps them from tangling too much, they're great for sorting and carrying around, and they're pretty. I love them.

  17. posted by Karen on

    I like the rolling jewelry organizers. They seem to do the best job keeping my necklaces from getting tangled without taking up too much space. Something I have done recently is that I bought a hanging jewelry organizer at The Container Store. It has a loop at the top so it can hang and it rolls up for travel. When I’m at home, I hang it on a hook in my closet. When I want to travel, I just take it off the hook, roll it up and put it in my carry on. That way I don’t have to transfer items from one container to another. If you have a small-ish number of items you wear most of the time, this might work for you.

  18. posted by jodi on

    @ gail

    I once lost my car key in high school in a friends yard. About 20 of us scoured the yard for almost 2 hours, and her dad watched for it when he mowed for months. The key was nowhere to be found. Winter came and the yard was shoveled into snowforts and piled with snow from the plow on the road.

    My turned up a year later in the melting snow. If it hasn’t been years and years the earring might show up yet!

  19. posted by Katya on

    I use a flat zippered case that has compartments, or a zip and roll bag (available many places as well as Amazon), and I always keep my jewelry with me, never packed in a bag that will be checked.

  20. posted by Mackenzie on

    My mom’s trick for necklaces is to lay one out along the edge of a tissue, then roll it up so its in the center of a tube of tissue, then fold the tissue in half so it can’t fall into the middle. A bit of tape to keep it folded might help.

  21. Avatar of

    posted by chacha1 on

    Funny; I like to make jewelry and I love to look at it, but I hardly wear any at all. When traveling, it’s just my wedding ring and a wristwatch.

    Unless we are traveling to compete – and then I have to have various sparkly accessories stashed with my costume(s). That stuff *definitely* goes in the checked luggage if we’re flying, it’s just cheap costume jewelry and not worth holding up the security line over. I like the adhesive-strip bags made of bubble wrap for protecting individual pieces.

  22. posted by Caroline on

    I just posted a video yesterday about organizing jewelry for travel on my blog! I hope some of the tips are helpful: http://organized-simplicity.com/blog/2011/08/18/organizing-outside-the-jewelry-box-travel

  23. posted by Austen on

    Remember, you are not taking your “stuff” on a trip. I tend not to take jewelry but have been known to bring a very nice piece home as a souvenir.

  24. posted by Alice F. on

    Another trick I’ve used to carry necklaces with me and keep them from getting tangled is to put each necklace in a small zip-top plastic bag, and leave the clasp part of the necklace sticking outside the bag … using the zip-top to secure it. Kind of hard to describe … hope that makes sense.

  25. posted by B on

    Does anyone have an idea for jewelry organization AT home that’s not too costly? I have everything in plastic bags in a shoebox right now – not ideal!

  26. posted by Elle on

    Lots of good suggestions I won’t repeat, but I did want to add one note. When sleeping in a hotel, I recommend keeping your valuable jewelry IN YOUR POCKETBOOK, not the room safe or elsewhere. I was in a _____ Hotel (major business travel chain) once when the fire alarm went off early in the morning. I threw on my sweats, grabbed my purse and left, and yes, there really was a fire. If I had had my jewelry in the safe, it would not have been safe (ha ha) for me to take the time to get it out. As it turned out, we were eventually let back in to our rooms, but you never know.

  27. posted by Laura on

    I always wear the same jewelry ~ engagement ring and wedding ring on my left hand, my grandmother’s engagement and wedding rings on my left hand, small silver hoops for earrings.

    For traveling, I like to use a small pouch for necklaces because it’s easier to keep in my purse. I’ve never had a problem going through security. I always have my purse with me, zipped closed.

    For what it’s worth, one of my FAVORITE things in the world to do is to untangle jewelry. The bigger the tangle the better. My neighbors used to bring me their jewelry and I’d sit for hours and work on it. Sick, I know.

  28. posted by Laura on

    Oops…grandma’s rings are on my right hand, in above post.

  29. Avatar of

    posted by jbeany on

    B – have a metal board to store my jewelry. I used basic magnetic office supply hooks along the bottom and edges for necklaces. I have inexpensive magnetic metal spice shakers for bigger things like pendants and rings – they have clear lids, so it’s easy to see what’s inside. My earrings are in magnetic containers that are sold in craft stores, also with clear lids, but they are divided into 4 sections and are much shallower than the spice shakers. I’ve mounted the board behind my bedroom door. It’s out of sight, but easy to access and everything is in view when I need to pick something out. The board and the bead containers came as a set from a craft store – I think Michaels.

  30. posted by Elizabeth on

    I have a drawstring jewelry pouch that I love and use for travel. Since I wear primarily sterling silver, an added bonus is that it’s lined with anti-tarnish fabric and keeps my jewelry tarnish-free for months. As someone mentioned, you can purchase these on etsy—well worth the money.

  31. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    @gail: I have a similar story to @jodi’s. I lost a necklace, one I bought as a memento right before I left Hawaii, lot of sentimental value. My mom’s neighbor found it almost two years later, glinting in the crack of her driveway. There’s hope!

  32. posted by jmhva on

    I just finished putting all of my necklaces through a straw. What a great tip!

  33. posted by djk on

    justgail–I will use that tip next week! genius, I tell ya.

    jbeany, what a great idea. I just saw some of those containers this morning and stared at them in the shop wondering what I could use them for. Left without them:(

    For travel I bring very little jewelry–other than wearing wedding rings, watch, and hoop earrings, usually I bring one chain and two pendants, a second pair of earrings (usually studs) and two big chunky cocktail rings for fun. If I am going into an area where I don’t want to be overly marked as a rich foreigner (in very poor areas) I only wear my very simple, “boring” wedding band and cheap silver hoops. My wedding diamonds and watch go into small pouches, the cords of which get tied to my bra straps and the pouches tuck into my bra (I wear loose tops; they don’t show)

    At home I have two jewelry boards inside my closet with everything hanging from hooks and pins.

    for studs and other “real” jewelry, I have jewelry boxes in the bedroom–favourite hack is to cut egg cartons to fit inside, and use the hollows for small bits, the raised pieces for pendants.

  34. posted by Bluecat on

    B – I use double- sided tape to tape 4 pieces of soft art & craft foam sheets to the inside of my wardrobe. I use long pins to tack my necklaces, rings, earrings and brooches to the foam. Since I did this, I have been wearing more accessories to work. Expensive pieces are kept in small silk pouches. We get these pouches when we buy jewelry from traditional goldsmith shops in Asia.

  35. posted by Lacey on

    I got this great book called 1-Yard Wonders, and one of the patterns was for a “Jewelry Roll.” I travel to 3-4 conferences a year, plus other things, so I made one (http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/38927_300955899976_505094976_980679_1236590_n.jpg) and it works great! It’s easy to tote around and fits in a safe for jewelry you want protected while you’re out and about.

  36. posted by Laura on

    I use the plastic tackle boxes that are made for holding fishing lures. There are similar ones in hardware stores for sorting screws etc. They come in a variety of sizes and the compartments are adjustable. I have a small one for travel and a couple of larger ones for home storage. Not ideal for heirloom stuff, but most of my everyday jewlery is costume stuff.

  37. posted by Julie on

    I use a pill case to hold my jewelry when I travel. I keep most of my jewelry in tiny plastic zipper bags anyway (keeps sterling silver shiny), so I just select a few, and put them in the plastic pill case, and I’m good to go!

  38. posted by Caroline on

    As other people mentioned: etsy etsy etsy. Couldn’t be easier to find exactly the kind you want.

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