No matter how experienced you are with traveling, packing can be a daunting task. Whether you’re trying to fit most of your life into a carry-on to avoid fees or the liquid restriction is just a little too…well, restrictive, packing usually isn’t one of the most fun parts of a vacation. After having our luggage lost on a couple of continents, leaving countless items behind, and generally being unprepared a couple of times, we’ve put together 15 of our best packing tips to help your trip be smooth sailing.
Airlines around the U.S. and around the world have different rules about bags, from the size of your carry-on to whether a personal item is allowed. So before your trip, it’s important to know size and weight restrictions as well as possible fees charged by your specific airline—both for checked bag and carry-ons.
Luggage, particularly large bags you must check-in, can consume a big percentage of your weight limit. So you want to limit that impact.
That goes for backpacks and carry-ons as well. Airlines increasingly are limiting the weight of cabin baggage, and you don’t want to have to pull something heavy and valuable from a backpack and shove it in your check-on luggage that baggage handlers can access.
Only pack your kid their own little bag if you know they will carry it (at least 2 years old+ in our experience). Accept that you will end up carrying it at some point no matter how small and light and it will get left behind on numerous occasions.
This is the secret weapon to help you avoid being charged unnecessary fees at the airport. Invest in some luggage scales and make sure you weigh your bags on both legs of the journey to see how close you are to reaching the weight limit. If you’re close to the limit, consider wearing some of the heavier items, or cutting down on what you pack in the first place (especially when it comes to heavy toiletries, as you can just buy them at your destination).
Insider’s tip: If you know you’ll travel with oversized/overweight luggage, then book your trip using a travel-rewards credit card that offers free checked baggage for one and sometimes two bags.
Be realistic about the quantities of toiletries you will need. If you will be traveling for three weeks, don’t take enough toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc. for three months. If you can’t find a small size of each item, many stores carry small, leak-proof, reusable plastic bottles. Be sure to check current security restrictions, particularly for liquids, for both checked and carry-on items.
Safety is paramount and moving about as much as travel demands can mean vital personal data and documents are susceptible to bad deeds. An excellent way to protect your important documents is by using travel wallets with RFID. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) protection will help you prevent hackers from tapping into your personal data.
Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones – we all have so many wires and gadgets that are easily lost in a suitcase. To prevent this problem, organizers are the answer. Take some extras, as well as the ones for your on-flight liquids, and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories.
While it’s important to take care of your sleep during travel, don’t forget how you sleep during your trip!Just like your travel essentials bag, pack a “sleep kit” to use nightly during your trip. This kit is essentially your nighttime routine; containing your sleep wear, sleep aids, and everything else you need to take care of yourself during rest.
If you’re like most, food and drinks are pretty much the last things your throw in your bag before heading to the airport—if you remember at all. But just a little planning can save you a fistful of cash, especially if you’re flying with your family. Most domestic flights don’t serve meals (just snacks and beverages), so if you think you’ll need to eat, you can either pay through the nose at the airport or pack your own.
If bold new luggage isn’t on the list this year, add a smaller statement piece. A luggage tag is an easy fix, and you may even find them as souvenirs during your trips. In addition to keeping your name, address, and phone number in view in case your luggage gets lost, it’s a bright pop of color to help you find it quickly.
We promise you, take time and learn to pack and you will be rewarded. After two or three trips, the process will become second nature to you, and you will have be able to pack quickly and efficiently for any trip – saving time, effort and money.
Happy (well-packed) travels…
And, by the way, we’re curious: What are your travel-packing secrets?
Let us know in the comment section below.
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