Efficient travel packing can make the difference between a good trip and a bad one. Good travel packing reduces the amount of luggage you take, saves you money on checked baggage fees and conserves time wasted waiting for bags at the luggage carousel. Good travel packing also allows you to take more things in less space and get them to your destination undamaged.
The best travel advice in the world is "pack light." The less you take the better. Airlines have strict limits on luggage size and weight. If you measure your luggage height plus width plus length you get its linear inches. Most airlines limit your carry-on bag to 45 linear inches. Checked luggage is increasingly restrictive. Some airlines charge extra to check one bag. Most charge extra to check a second bag. Checked luggage is limited to 62 linear inches and 50 pounds, or it incurs additional charges. Airlines won't even take bags that weigh more than 70 pounds. A few international flights allow 100 pounds. Limit yourself to a carry-on bag whenever possible. If you must check luggage take just one bag.
Buy luggage with the right features. Get a carry-on bag built to maximum airline dimensions. Always buy luggage with wheels. They make long hikes with luggage a breeze. External straps let you attach other items and roll them with your carry-on bag. Also include these features if you are buying a bag for checking.
Identify everything you want to take and try to get rid of half of it. In general, people bring twice as much as they need. Be versatile and choose outfits that mix and match. That way one garment has multiple uses. Layer clothing to prepare for both warm and cold weather. This reduces the number of heavy items like jackets you need to pack. Favor natural fibers like cotton. They are easier to wash and iron during travel. Take only one pair of extra shoes. Black goes with everything. Shoes are very heavy and take up a lot of space. All toiletries should be travel sizes. It is ridiculous to take a huge bottle of something when you will only use a tiny bit. Most hotels provide shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair dryers and towels. Don't take what you don't need.
Suitcases function best when you eliminate empty spaces. Before you pack do some preparing. Roll up your socks and underwear and slide them inside your shoes. Also roll up pants, t-shirts and other garments. Packing this way will minimize wrinkling. The only clothing you should not roll up are suits and freshly dry-cleaned items. Place all toiletries in a ziplock bag, then put that in another ziplock bag. Double bagging prevents a leak from damaging everything in your suitcase.
You will benefit by packing the heaviest items at the bottom of the suitcase. Keep in mind that the bag will be standing up when it is transported. The bottom will be the side with the wheels. Position shoes top to top so they fit together and put them at the bottom of the suitcase. Next lay suits and dry-cleaned clothes sideways inside the bag. Leave the dry-cleaning plastic on them. The bottom half of these items should be inside the bag. Leave the top half hanging out for now. Add your rolled-up jeans, sweaters and bulky items. Fill the spaces with extra rolled-up socks, underwear and other items. Fold the dry cleaning over the top of this middle layer. Close the bag, then stand it up. Open the top again and place your toiletries on top. This puts the least pressure on things that might leak.
Airline security regulations forbid the transportation of sharp objects and liquids in carry-on luggage. Either pack these items in your checked luggage or leave them at home and buy what you need at your destination.
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