How to Pack for Air Travel

Packing is an ordeal that most travelers hate, but you can make it easier if you know a few tricks that savvy travelers use. While some travelers over-pack, stuffing enough gear and clothing to take them two weeks when they’re only going for a weekend, others manage to forget even the most vital of basics, like passports and their daily medicine. With air travel prices flying higher than the planes, these air travel packing tips can help you save money while complying with all TSA and other security rules.

Pack It Right

No one wants to look a wrinkled mess in an out-of-town meeting or when setting out to see the sights in an exotic city – but the wrong packing method can leave you with a creased mess of clothing that will take you half an hour to sort. There are, however, ways to pack your clothing to avoid creases and making your unpacking and dressing easier.

The Roll Method

Folding items of clothing and laying them flat leaves creases that seem permanently embedded in the fabric. One way to avoid the creases is to avoid the folding. Instead, roll each item of clothing separately. Just lay the item down flat, smooth it to eliminate any creases, fold the sleeves in and roll it from the bottom up. Rolling is an especially good choice for pants, skirts, sports shirts and lightweight sweaters. Not only does it eliminate most creases, it also is less bulky, allowing you more room to pack your bags.

Doubling Up

Reduce creases and lines in clothing by folding two of the same garments in together. Take two garments, say, two pairs of pants, and lay them one on top of the other. Fold the bottom pair up over the top pair, then fold the top pair and fold it over the bottom pair, interleaving them. This method provides extra bulk and cushioning, helping reduce the chance of creasing.

Packing for Kids (or Color-Blind Partners)

Did you ever wish you could go along with your partner on a business trip for the sole purpose of making sure he didn’t head out to a business meeting dressed in some wildly inappropriate and not-at-all matching shirt and tie? This packing method, which works well for packing children’s clothes for sleep-away camp, is also a good method for anyone who likes to make sure all of his/her outfits are laid out and ready to wear. Take all the clothing you need for one complete outfit – including underwear and stockings or socks. Fold the underwear and socks together. Lay the shirt, blouse or sweater out flat on the bed. Lay your pants, skirt or bottoms over the top. Place the underwear and socks in the center of the two garments. Carefully fold the sleeves and sides in over the center. Fold the bottom up and the top down until you have a compact package that includes everything you need to dress for the day.

Bundling Your Clothing

The bundle approach to packing was designed by Judith Guilford, author of “The Packing Book.” Essentially, you lay all of your clothing out in the suitcase in layers, then fold each layer in over itself until you have a tightly wrapped bundle of clothing that can be picked up all at once. Here’s how you do it.

    – Pack your socks and underwear into a soft pouch that will be the core of your luggage bundle. Put it to one side for the time being.
    – Open your suitcase flat on the bed.
    – Take your most wrinkle-prone item and lay it into the suitcase, with the bottom of the garment at the bottom edge of the suitcase.
    – Take your next most wrinkle-prone or large garment and lay it on top of the first, facing in the opposite direction.
    – Place long, narrow items, such as trousers, cross-wise in the suitcase, with the excess extending over the side.
    – Continue layering garments, alternating the direction in which they face until you reach your most wrinkle-proof items. Place those in the center.
    – When you’ve laid in all of your garments, place the pouch of underwear and socks in the center of your clothing.
    – Starting with the last items on top, fold the clothing over the pouch and other garments in reverse order than you put them into the suitcase.
    – If you fold something and have excess draping over the side of the bag, tuck the excess underneath the bundle you are making.
    – Continue until you’ve folded in the last garment – the first one you laid in your suitcase.

In the end, you’ll have a single bundle of clothing that you can pick up in one piece. To get at what you want, simply unfold the layers until you reach the item you want, take it out and refold the rest.

Packing Tips for Air Travelers

It’s no secret that travelers have to take particular precautions with packing if they’ll be traveling by air or going through airport security. Some of these air travel packing tips are designed to get you through security faster. Others are for your convenience and comfort – and to help you avoid excess baggage fees.

    – If you travel frequently, keep a toiletry bag handy for quick packing. Any liquids or gels that are going in your carry-on luggage must be packed properly in individual 3.4-oz. or smaller containers, all contained in a single clear, quart-size plastic zip-top bag. You can find air travel bags of cosmetics pre-packed for your convenience at many department stores or pharmacies, or you can fill your own using plastic bottles to save money.

    – Check the airline restrictions on weight and size for luggage before packing. Most airlines will charge a fee for every bag you check, and a lot of them have lowered maximum weight limits recently. Every airline has its own rules.

    – If you’re planning to travel with unusual items – a musical instrument or bag of golf clubs, for example – check the baggage rules of the airline you’ll be flying. In some cases, it may make more sense – and be less expensive – to ship the item separately to your hotel or lodgings.

    – Always use TSA-approved locks on your checked bags. If you use other locks on your checked luggage, TSA agents will have to break the lock to get inside if your bag is selected for random screening.

    – Pack all of your prescription medication in the original packaging with prescription labels. Place all bottles in a clear plastic, zip top bag that you can carry in your carry-on luggage. At the very least, carry enough medication for 2-3 days in your carry-on luggage in case you and your checked bags end up separated from each other.

    – Avoid over-packing your bag. If your bag is selected for inspection, TSA agents could have trouble closing it up again, which can lead to wrinkled clothing and lost articles.

    – Don’t like the idea of strangers pawing through your dainties? Put any belongings you don’t want strangers handling directly into clear plastic bags so that they can be examined without being handled.

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