We have all witnessed those passengers at the baggage carousel loading and carrying numerous suitcases that are too heavy and cumbersome. I often wonder where they are going and for how long. I also wonder how much money they spent in baggage fees!! I am continuously challenging myself to be a better packer. With over 4 decades of traveling for both business and pleasure, I have made it my mission to pack light and efficiently. Although this process is constantly changing and improving, I have made this list of best practices part of my packing routine. In addition, the airlines are constantly changing their luggage rules and requirements, and domestic airlines have different rules than international airlines. I have made this list with the most conservative airline rules in mind.
Create a packing list. Your packing list should have 4 sections:
At the Ready: Passport, Reservation Papers, charging cords etc…
Extras: hat, gloves, undies etc…
Pack only those clothes you KNOW you will use. Lay everything out. What can you wear twice? What clothes can be worn both for day and evening? Plan to have clothes laundered. Do not pack too many shoes. Avoid high heels and heavy boots.
Use the smallest, lightest and most efficient suitcase you can possibly use. Keep in mind that you will probably be bringing home souvenirs and gifts. You will want some additional space for the trip home. Using a smaller suitcase will also help you not over pack.
When packing your bag, roll your clothes, do not fold. You will use less space. Also, put undies, socks and small items inside shoes. The luggage cubes (luggage organizers you can buy online) are a fantastic invention and very helpful in keeping you organized and use less space.
Pack different size plastic bags with closures. This will come in handy for many reasons.
Minimize toiletries. Use travel sizes and smaller bottles whenever possible. Only pack the cosmetics you know you will need. I always use a much smaller makeup bag when I travel and only bring exactly what I need. Keep the smaller bottles for future trips, you can refill them. Put all your liquid toiletries in plastic bags to avoid leaking.
Keep medicine in original containers. Very important for overseas travel. Customs may ask you about it.
Use a portable scale to weigh your bags to avoid airline fees. Share bags if necessary to balance out the weight.
Carry a backpack or large “personal item” as a carry on instead of a purse. Put your purse in your larger “personal item”. If using a backpack, put the lighter items on the bottom, it won’t feel as heavy.
Resist that last-minute urge to pack more stuff! It will happen. You don’t need those extra t-shirts, flip flops, bras etc… Before you seal up your bag, take out 3 things. Allow yourself 30 minutes to take these out before you leave. Remember…less is more.
Hopefully this reduces some stress while packing for your next adventure. I have never regretted bringing less, but have always regretted bringing more.