- Start with research, planning, and sensible luggage. Research your destination and determine the clothing needed for the climate and activities you plan to engage in during your trip. Select sensible luggage that you can lift without assistance when packed to capacity. This is essential when selecting your carry-on luggage for a flight. How many times have you experienced a near miss from someone who cannot seem to get their heavy carry-on suitcase up into the overhead compartment. Also, if you are flying verify the overhead compartment space dimensions. Be sure to research by checking out TravelNerd’s carry on luggage size chart. I have boarded many flights where there is crowd of people waiting to tag their luggage and have the ground crew load it into a storage compartment. Of course, when the flight reaches its destination, these same people are still gathering at the door of the plane awaiting their luggage. I find it much less of a hassle to check the bag for these flights and avoid clogging the jet way.
- Miniaturize when possible. Select compact items to help save space in your luggage and save you luggage fees. Those squeezable toiletry tubes/bottles are great for packing those necessary items . . . many of which meet the TSA requirements for liquids. I love my pocket camera with an adjustable lens, compact solar battery charger, and multiple memory chips. A bonus is the waterproof camera cover that allows me to use it in the rain or underwater. An ereader can hold your pleasure reading and games to distract you during your flight. Additionally you can load up the ereader with maps and travel guides for your destination. Another bonus is the long battery life will last through most international flights.
- Arrange your clothing and other items in your suitcase to minimize wasted space. Roll your clothing or fold clothing in and around other items to maximize space. I pack my socks in those little bags the newspaper is delivered in and then stuff into my shoes. I love the "packing cubes" and compression bags to keep clean clothes free of the odors that may come from soiled clothing between destinations. I also pack dryer sheets inside the compression bag to keep items smelling nice. Check with the lodging at your destination to see if they provide hair dryers, irons, or other items you might need. Imagine the space you will save.
- Right clothes for the climate and season. For example, pack wrinkle-free, quick-dry, and color-coordinated clothes. Plan your wardrobe for the trip and lay out the color coordinated outfits you are taking on the trip. Then begin combining items to ensure you can create a minimum of 3 to 5 outfits. If not, leave the item at home. Research has found that women tend to wear only half of what they pack, so I always cut back by half before packing up the luggage. Please leave valuable items at home. If you would be upset if it is lost or damaged, then leave it at home. Limit your shoes to one or two pairs of comfortable, versatile shoes. Include an extra pair of socks in your carry-on luggage that can double as slippers on an international flight. Feet often get cold and airline blankets are not always warm enough (and may not be clean), so I use the blanket on my legs and feet. A super soft cashmere pashmina wrap is always in my carry-on that can be used to wrap around my shoulders on a flight or walking along the beach after sunset.
- Tuck a few reusable items in your suitcase to save time, money, and the planet! A reusable shopping bag can be tucked into an outer pocket of your suitcase. I have found this a real lifesaver on my travels. A lightweight but strong bag with a wide handle can double for shopping, carrying items for a day of sightseeing, or all those items that do not fit in your suitcase when you return home. An eco-friendly water bottle can be very handy on a long flight or long road trips and you can eliminate the use of plastic water bottles. Hint: Since TSA does not allow me to carry a bottle of water through security, I stop by a fast food provider in the airport. After buying a last minute snack, I fill the bottle with ice and water. Even if there is not a self-service dispenser, I can usually convince a server to assist me for a tip. Remember water is essential on long distance flights to ensure that you do not dehydrate in the dry cabin air.
Check back for tips on the debate for checking your luggage versus one carry-on bag, cruising through TSA check points, and clearing customs.