Picture this: you’ve got 45 minutes exactly to make it all the way across LAX to get to the terminal for your connecting flight…
You better start running! Now you’re sprinting, you’re sweating, and suddenly BOOM! your arm goes numb because you packed a 400 pound duffel bag with piano wire straps that are cutting your arm in half like a Vienna sausage. You fall to the ground in defeat, your plane leaves without you, the end is nigh.
Or, you could just follow these quick and easy packing hacks! I’ll show you how to bring only what you really need for a trip you’ll always remember.
Pick the right bags
If you can only possibly remember one tip from this article, this is the one to hang onto. Your bags matter. I have personally made the mistake of bringing an adorable whicker purse to the heart of Brooklyn and having the strap break an hour into the first day. That purse became a clutch REALLY quickly.
The standard size for an overhead carry-on bag is 22 inches high by 9 inches deep by 14 inches wide (varying slightly by airline) but that doesn’t take the space under the seat in front of you into account. You are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal bag (a purse, backpack, etc.) this is where you get crafty! Below seat size accommodation varies depending on airline but 17 x 13 x 8 is a safe bet. Use this space to your advantage! Though it seems counterintuitive get a soft-sided bag as you can mold them more easily to fit in small spaces like under the seat in front of you.
And my personal secret travel must-have? A small bag with a trolley sleeve to go on top of my carry on roller. All-in-one and one-for-all!
Mix and match your outfits
This may seem like a given but you won’t believe how many times I’ve seen newbie travelers checking gigantic suitcases filled with things that never even see the light of day.
Pack general staples: good jeans, a neutral jacket, plain shirts and accessories. Pack neutral patterns and colors that can easily pair with a something new to diversify possible wardrobe choices while keeping the actual contents to a minimum. That way you can wash and repeat and rewear in different combinations.
Pro-tip💡Bring a small container with laundry detergent and fill your sink/bathtub/a bucket with hot water and you’ve got yourself a D.I.Y. on-the-go laundry room.
Wear your biggest layers onto the plane
Slap on all of your bulkiest belongings and wear those babies right on the plane! Saves you tons of packing room in your suitcases and plus airplanes tend to get mighty cold.
If you get too hot while flying strip down and use bulky sweaters or coats as neck support and pillows. (Or possibly a divider between you and the snoring old man who won’t stop leaning his head oh-so gently upon your shoulder as he sleeps…)
Roll. those. clothes!
If you’re living in the year 2019 and you’re still folding your clothes into squares when you travel you need to check your temperature. There is absolutely no better way to pack than to roll your clothes tightly.
Not only does it allow much more space in the bag itself, your clothes stay tight and wrinkle-free. It also makes unpacking a lot easier, just transfer the bundles from suitcase to drawer! Or do as I do and live straight out of your suitcase.
Portion out YOUR cosmetics
Another one that is supposedly in the realm of common sense, however you’d be surprised. Do you know how many times I try to sneak a full bottle of perfume across international borders? Every time, I try every single time. I’ve lost some good men along the way… in fact my favorite bottle of perfume is now permanently re-located to an Icelandic airport garbage can.
It’s easier now than ever before to buy tiny re-usable bottles be they made of silicone or hard plastic or metal or glass. It’s better for the environment and your budget because you won’t have to waste money on those tiny shampoo bottles that you can never finish before you need to return home.
Use soft-sided travel tubes to take TSA-compliant portions (3.4 ounce bottles in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag allowed per passenger) of your favorite shampoos, conditioners, lotions, gels, etc. Keep them all together in a small wet bag (a reusable cloth bag with a polyurethane laminate lining) to prevent leaks!
Pack liquids, medications, and electronics last
Essentially make sure that if you have anything TSA wants to know about that you pack it last at the very top of your bag. That way when you get to security you can slip off your shoes, slightly unzip your bag, and pull out one bag all neat and ready to be inspected and shuffled by a TSA agent.
Note: don’t bring any cosmetics you’re particularly fond of. Sometimes TSA will throw things out even if they technically pass the general guidelines. Nothing is safe!
Get a travel wallet or fanny pack
I never used to travel with a specific form of containment unit for my documentation but as a citizen of three countries I have a lot of passports to keep track of! So I finally broke down and bought a travelers wallet and it has changed the game. I am so much faster in the airport now.
A travel wallet is a large wallet that comes with spaces for passports, pens, cards, cash (especially if you need to grab a lot of cash of a new currency), and hidden pockets for important documents. Many come with slots for your phone and boarding pass as well so you have a hand-held place to keep all the important things you need.
It’s time to get a scale and plan ahead
If you must check your bags (seriously I implore you not to do that unless absolutely necessary…) then you better be ready to be precise about how much weight you’re bringing.
For the most part, and the rules are different with every airline, try not to exceed 50lbs or 23kgs and you may be able to get out unscathed. The fees for over-packed bags are exorbitant so watch out!