Rising baggage costs and strict airport security measures are a nightmare, and don’t we know it. When I have to fly now, no way am I taking for granted things like, complimentary beverages and checked luggage. Some airlines in America charge you upwards to $25 to check a bag and some even charge ridiculous amounts for carry-ons that exceed the size of a backpack. It’s crazy! However, there is hope yet. The key to lightening your load is knowing how to efficiently pack your bags – this will not only save you time and money but also the added hassle that comes with airport bag crackdown. Check out these life-saving tips so you can have as much a stress-free vacation as possible.
Most of us just throw random clothes and shoes in, without really thinking of what we’re packing. And a majority of the time, not only have we over-packed but we only wear about 60% of what we packed. Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel suggests that you, “Lay out everything that you think you want to pack on your bed and take a good hard look.” Chances are, you don’t need four red sandals and three summer dresses. “It’s only when you lay your entire ensemble in front of you that you see where you’ve made mistakes and can make the appropriate cuts.”
Put your clothes on a diet:
“Choosing thin clothing that packs flat over thicker, more bulky items makes a huge difference in how much you can fit in your suitcase,” says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler. So instead of packing that heavy sweater and jeans you love so much, try more travel-friendly options like a micro-fleece pullover and pants in lightweight, weather-resistant fabric.
Diana Lane, an associate with Geiger & Associates, a Florida-based destination marketing firm, absolutely loves the versatility of lightweight sarongs. You can use sarongs as skirts, various styles of dresses, shawls, swimsuit cover-ups, shoulder bags or even used as a blanket. “There aren’t many items that give us quite this much bang for the buck,” she says.
Wear it on-board:
You desperately want to bring along that adorable full-length overcoat and your boyfriend’s chunky grey sweater, hey we don’t blame you, those sound cute. When traveling with bulky clothing is necessary, or you just really want to, try wearing the item that is going to take up all that extra room. Besides, it gets super cold on-board so why not bulk up?
Are you a fabric fiend, well you should be:
Who doesn’t want to look gorgeous and refreshed when they land at their destination? It’s not just about how much you slept on-board, it’s your clothes too. Stick to wrinkle-resistant fabrics that dry quickly, like washable silk, nylon and micro-fibers. Cotton isn’t your friend here, it takes ages to dry and wrinkles easily. But if you adore cotton, then try Brooks Brothers, they’ve got some super cute lightweight cotton blouses specially designed to withstand wrinkling.
Go for spray tactics:
Here’s an added bonus for counteracting wrinkles in your clothes – hang the unfortunate item in the bathroom while you shower, the steam will work out the wrinkles. If this fails, try Brown’s secret weapon—a spray-on de-wrinkler. Brown swears by ‘Downy Wrinkle Release’, which is often sold at newsstand stores inside the airport.
Pack for compatibility:
This one’s a biggie and probably the hardest for travelers to digest, Foster advises that you, “Let go of the idea that you have to take a different outfit for each day.” Gasp! She says that, “The key to packing light is selecting versatile and interchangeable pieces.” Try focusing on one basic color when packing, like black, white, brown or khaki, then add some variety with various tops and accessories that have more color and personality. This will keep you from over-packing, plus you get to change up your look with splashes of color that mix and match. Sounds like fun!
Do a double take:
Consider bringing expandable or convertible luggage, just in case you get lots gifts and souvenirs. This will save you some serious overweight charges at the check-in counter, using the expandable or convertible luggage gives you the flexibility to just unzip the bag and check in two separate bags. Genius.
Turn your bland outfit into super chic by adding accessories, such as belts, jewelry and scarves. These accessories won’t take up too much room in your suitcase plus, they do add a little charm to your outfit. Kelly Vrtis, an organizational travel spokeswoman for The Container Store relies on a lightweight Pashmina shawl as her go-to accessory while traveling. “You can use it over the shoulder, around your elbows or even wear it as a scarf.”
Scale back on shoes:
I know, this one breaks my heart too but it’s crucial! Brown only packs one pair of flats and one pair of heels for every trip. “Both can be used to make pants, shorts or a dress casual or dressy,” she says. When you’re packing, place the shoes toe-to-heel in the bottom of your luggage along the edge, and make the most of the empty spaces inside your footwear by filling them with fragile items wrapped in socks.
Make sure your clothes stay put:
There are specific items you can get that will help keep your clothes from shifting and rubbing one another in your suitcase, this cuts down the chances of your clothes getting wrinkled. There are numerous products that accommodate everything from socks to sports coats, ‘The Container Store’ offers the Eagle Creek Pack-It line, which sports a great collection of organizer tubes, cubes and folders. Flight 001, a store that specializes in innovative travel products, also has an organizational packing system called SpacePak. Most of these systems have mesh panels or see-through sides so you (and security) can easily and quickly see what’s inside. “Packing envelopes and cubes are extremely efficient and have allowed me to actually add more to my luggage,” Brown says.
Take a vacation from your toiletries:
You don’t need to pack all your perfume and lotions, just use the soaps and lotions that the hotel provides. “I love to try the new shampoos and conditioners when I travel,” says Kelly Vrtis, packing expert and travel spokesperson for The Container Store. “My hair enjoys the break from the usual routine.” Christopher Elliott, ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler and columnist for MSNBC.com adds, “the one thing people tend to forget is that there are stores where you’re going and you can always buy those items once you get there.” Fair point.
Make your carry-on count:
For peace of mind, be sure to choose sturdy, lightweight luggage that’s simple to maneuver and has built-in compartments and collapsible shelves for easy packing. Elliott’s favorite bag is made by Helen Rae. “It has shelves on the inside, the pouches are perfect for your electronics and there’s even room for your laptop,” he explains.
Condense your clothes:
Space-saving compression bags like Space Bag let you pack almost double the amount of clothes you want — so there’s no need for jumping, sitting or lying on your suitcase! Available at The Container Store and Walmart, these extra-large plastic bags are equipped with one-way pressure valves along one edge that release excess air and keep it out. Compression bags work best for bulky items, such as sweaters, coats, down jackets, pillows, beach towels and even wet garments.
Get travel size goods:
Don’t forget that all your liquids, aerosols and gels that you bring on the plane must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less and all fit in one 1-quart-sized bag. That’s why it’s a smart idea to switch your regular toiletries for travel friendly ones. “Sephora.com offers a whole section on their website dedicated to Airplane Approved Beauty,” notes frequent traveler Kristin Grilli with Green Earth Media Group. Or you can transfer some of your favorite full-size beauty product into a reusable travel-size container – now that’s even smarter of an idea. ‘Nalgene’ offers many lightweight, unbreakable polypropylene travel-size containers.
Lighten your load:
When it comes to choosing suitcases, definitely consider a lightweight one because not only is it easier to move about but it also gives you plenty more room to pack. If you know that you’ll be shopping a lot when you’re away, then be sure to pack an extra travel tote or day-pack that can fold flat in your luggage.