Eight Holiday Travel Packing Tips and Strategies

By Jonathan Spira on 19 November 2012
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Should you roll or fold?  Check bags or carry on?  Everyone who travels has his own favorite strategy about packing but there are things that experts agree on but here are some tips and strategies from the expert travelers at Frequent Business Traveler magazine.

One: Choose Your Bag

If you are checking a bag, size doesn’t really matter but it’s important to meet your airline’s size requirements when choosing a carry-on bag.  Most 22” roll aboard bags should qualify but it pays to double check with your airline.   (For bags that will be checked, weight will matter, so check with your airline to avoid unpleasant surprises.)

If you are checking a bag or two, here’s what you don’t want to put into it: anything you can’t afford to lose or be without for an extended period at your destination.  You should also make sure you have essentials (a partial change of clothes) for an unscheduled stopover or if your bag doesn’t arrive with you.  The world’s airlines lose roughly 3,000 bags each hour (which translates into over 25 million each year) so don’t put medications or valuables (including electronics) in a checked bag.

Two: Take an Overflow Bag

Inside the zippered pocket of my roll aboard is a small, 18×18 nylon bag with a zipper and hard bottom that folds completely flat and takes up virtually no space.  Recently, when going from one hotel to another by car, I threw my laundry bag and toiletries in it, which made packing my suitcase much easier.  In instances where I’ve ended up flying home with more than I left with, I would check the roll aboard and carry the overflow bag onto the aircraft.

Three: Use a Checkpoint Friendly Carry-on Bag

The number of laptops left behind at security checkpoints in the United States alone is estimated to be as high as 11,000 per year.  With a checkpoint friendly bag, the laptop never leaves the zippered compartment when going through the x-ray machine.  I use a Tumi T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack (in common parlance, a backpack).

Four: Bring an Expandable Carry-on Bag Along

While the overflow bag can be useful, it still may not be sufficient after a trip, especially if you have accumulated a lot of papers and souvenirs en route.  I use a Tumi Alpha Frequent Traveler expandable carry-on.  At 22”, it meets the criteria set by most airlines for a carry-on bag.  It expands by 2.5”, which allows me to add additional items although, in its expanded state, it does need to be checked in.

Five: Always be Ready for a Trip

Instead of packing and unpacking toiletries, chargers, cables, and other items you regularly take with you, keep a separate set of these items just for trips.

Six: Take Disposable Items Along

I always pack a few items I consider to be at “end-of-life” or somewhat disposable (such as a shirt that is showing signs of wear) which could be left behind if space is needed for any items acquired during the trip.

Seven: Send Stuff Ahead.

On a recent two-week trip, I shipped a box of clean clothes to my hotel in Seattle that was right in the middle of my itinerary.  I enclosed a return label in the box and sent home my laundry and managed to complete the entire trip using only my roll aboard.

Eight: Check the Weather.

It’s amazing how many travelers show up at a destination dressed and packed for completely different climatic conditions.  Check the weather, rainfall, and average temperature at your destination and pack accordingly.  Despite advances in meteorology, weather forecasts are accurate only for the upcoming 48 hours and should be considered only advisory for any time period beyond that, so allow for some variance as well.

Packing is a very personal and individual thing as is whether one should roll or fold (the answer, by the way, is that it depends based on what you are packing and how much room you have).   By following our tips, you’ll find you’ll have less baggage to worry about.

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