By Sara Seibel
Frantically deciding what to bring and how to fit it all in a 22” by 14” bag 24 hours before the flight is something almost universally relatable. Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be someone’s packing nightmare. Save rummaging through piles of wrinkled clothing and the constant struggle to find that one pair of socks with simple steps to ensure everything is packed and ready to go.
Before doing anything, make sure the bag is within the size limit. Typically, airlines like Southwest and JetBlue allow up to 50 inches total. Discount carriers are especially restrictive, so check the airline’s FAQ to see the measurements before doing anything.
Make sure the bag is also durable and easy to lug around. The ideal bag would be a large cross body bag with enough pockets to hold must-need items like phones, wallets, and passports. This includes tote bags and satchels.
Pack any valuables in the carry-on, just in case the checked-in luggage gets lost by the airline. Though the Air Transport Industry (ATI) has cut the number of mishandled bags by 50% globally since 2007, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to items like medication and valuables.
Not everything has to fit inside the bag. Hand carry all small electronics, and wear jewelry and accessories instead of having it get all tangled up from the manhandling the bag is likely to receive.
As for liquids, pack them all in one quart-sized, clear, plastic zip-loc bag. Place the baggie in an easy-to-reach place so that going past security is a breeze, but also separate it from important items so that any accidents won’t cause damage to other belongings. Either forget that humongous bottle of sunscreen at home and buy it at the destination, or pack larger bottles of liquids in a check-in suitcase.
A longer stay calls for checking in a larger bag. Simply shoving everything into a suitcase without much thought can ruin the whole trip, especially when belongings break, get misplaced, or get shuffled up. Make sure to not exceed the 50 pound weight limit (70 pounds for Business and First Class) and the 62” size limit for the checked suitcase or else an extra fee of $100 (51-70lbs) or $200 (71-100lbs) will ensue.
Packing cubes tend to be the best kept secret of experienced packers, which are zip-up, fabric cubes that are used to make the most out of the space in luggage. A set of six runs for $12 at Walmart. Users can fit more clothing into these cubes, and they make organizing much simpler, too, as travelers can separate shirts from pants or undergarments from jackets.
Less is more, so try to pack things that can be used in multiple ways. For instance, a t-shirt that can be used as day wear and as pajamas, or a bronzer that can also be used as eyeshadow. Try to think of it this way: “Will I use this during the trip? Can this substitute for something else?”
Pajamas can be used around two to three times before washing, so do the math and bring only as much as needed. For a one week trip, if a washing machine isn’t available, the ideal would be two pairs of pajamas.
Pack versatile clothing that can go with other clothing pieces. Play it safe with solid colors or patterned tops that can go with jeans or shorts.
Shoes are heavy and take up space, so wear the heaviest pair aboard the plane and pack only a few other comfortable shoes at the bottom of the suitcase in a plastic bag. Find footwear that can be used for multiple occasions — formal and informal. If the luggage is to the point where it can’t be zipped, try folding some socks inside the shoes.
Wrap belts around the edges of the suitcase and put fragile items between clothes like makeshift packing peanuts so that even if the suitcase gets manhandled, nothing will break.
Vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing. Travel-goers don’t have to go through the stress and hassle of poor packing if they take these tips into consideration.