What and how you pack can be just as important as any other part of an itinerary. While we always help with building and enhancing the rest of your experience, what you take with you on your travels can ultimately, only be decided by you. However, we do frequently advise our clients on what they might need and over the years, we've stumbled across some great strategies that help make the most of luggage space. Here are 8 things you can do to help effectively pack your bags:
1. Check Checking Policies:
Before you even start to plan how and what you want to pack it is a good idea to check the baggage policies of the airline that you are flying with. In fact, it is worthwhile checking policies before you even book. Sometimes the cheapest flight would require a large fee to check your luggage, while flying on another airline for just a few dollars more would allow you to check your luggage for free. There are a couple of exceptions, but most carriers do charge a fee to check any baggage on domestic flights. International flights normally allow for one bag to be checked free of charge with each journey. However, it is important to check all the flights on your itinerary, as each flight or leg may have a different baggage policy. You can now check airline baggage policies on our ‘Your Itinerary’ page.
2. Carry-On Regardless:
To avoid baggage fees or if spacing is tight you can always take advantage of your carry-on and personal item allowances. While it is important to stay within the allowed sizes for carry-on luggage, you can fit quite a lot into a carry-on bag and they are normally sufficient for overnight or weekend stays. Personal items also have specific size allowances, but purses, laptop bags or backpacks are normally OK to use. As they tend to be a little smaller than your carry-on bag, your personal item is a great place to store the things you know you will need during your flight as it can be stored under the seat, which is much more accessible than the overhead locker. Even if you could fit everything into your checked luggage, it is very important that you always take your most precious items and medications onto the plane with you. Passports, wallets or cell phones should never be placed in your checked luggage. If your valuables are on your person or in your carry-on there is much less of a chance that they go missing.
3. Think Location, Location, Location:
What you pack, obviously, all depends on where you are going, but there are three things you can do to ensure you only have exactly what you need. Firstly, check your accommodation(s) and see if your room will come with some of the bulky items you may want to take. If they have it, then you don't need to pack it (some examples are hair dryers, irons or even desktop computers, so you could leave your laptop at home). Next, look at which facilities you will have access to. If your accommodations, have a laundry room, you can reuse some clothing and pack less. If they have a child play center, you can cut down on the amount of toys you need to take along if you have children. Lastly, if you are only travelling for a few days, check an up to date weather forecast a day or so before you leave. The weather in many destinations can vary drastically and so having an accurate forecast rather than yearly averages will better prepare you to make your packing decisions.
It seems too easy to wait until the last minute and throw everything into a bag the night before you leave. However, the most efficient way to pack requires that you plan ahead. Two things can go wrong when you do not have a plan. The first is that you leave an item at home that you need. The second is that you pack too much and have to carry around extra luggage or worse, pay unnecessary baggage fees at the airport(s). A detailed list of everything you need will keep you on the right track. It is also a good idea to prepare all of your items outside of your suitcase to give it one last look over and visualize what you can wear together before you pack it all in.
By now, most travellers know that tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Rolling clothes also seems to reduce creasing, however, their is a 3rd alternative that results in even less wrinkles- bundle wrapping. Wrapping all of your clothes into one tightly packed bundle, starting with the smallest items in the center and working out can result in creases being removed completely. While bundle wrapping does seem effective, if you need to access an item in the center of your bag it can be very difficult to do so. The best way to pack effectively is to actually use a combination of different techniques. We scoured the internet and eventually came across this two minute video by Heathrow Airport which gives a great demonstration on making the most of the space in your suitcase.
6. Be Charged:
Making sure that all of your electronics are fully charged before you leave your house or hotel, will ensure that you don't spend time searching for a charging point while traveling. Also, pre-load your device(s) with ebooks, movies, music or podcasts to distract you during plane delays, and long bus/train rides. The good news is that unlike the other items you have to take with you, data will never weigh your bags down and so your media library is only ever limited by the capability of your device!
7. Use Little Tricks:
Buying or pouring toiletry products into travel-sized bottles will allow you to take your favourite products with you, without adding the extra weight of a full sized bottle. Ziplock bags are also great accessories to use while packing. The smaller bags are TSA friendly and can be used for toiletries, medications, jewelry and other small products, while the larger bags can be used to separate clothing and laundry. Once the clothes are in the bag, you can squeeze out the air, so that they take up minimal suitcase space. Packing an expandable bag is another option for a portable laundry basket and it is always nice to have if you plan to bring back some souvenirs! Leaving contact information, including an email address and a list of where you will be staying on the inside of your checked luggage would help your airline find you and deliver your bags if they were temporarily misplaced.
8. Be TSA Friendly:
It is always helpful to know ‘the rules’. While they can be inconvenient at times, the tight regulations enforced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are in place to keep us safe and as long as we adhere to them, the inconvenience we experience should only amount to a little extra planning. The 3-1-1 rule for example, which limits the liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes a traveller can take onboard, is not as frustrating if your products are already in containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. Pre-packing these items into the clear bag before you get to the airport will also save you time at security. You can read more about the 3-1-1 rule and other TSA information at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information.