We’ve all been there, watching as “that” passenger boards the plane with either too much or too heavy carry-on luggage.  Or just maybe, you are the one boarding with the excessive luggage.  Either way, I’d like to share some tips to avoid the glares from fellow passengers and what I’ve learned to make packing smoother for airline travel.

Not only are we limited to what we pack (batteries, liquids, etc.), but it’s just as important to pay attention to the weight of luggage and number of pieces we check.  While some airlines allow one free checked bag, many still charge.  Luggage accessories, such as packing cubes, have recently hit the market to help keep belongings organized and less wrinkled.  I’m sure we have all witnessed the embarrassing situation when a fellow flyer is forced to rummage and remove things from their suitcase because it exceeded the 50-pound weight limit or their carry-on bag didn’t fit into the overhead compartment.

Like many travelers, shoes and toiletries are my biggest obstacle when trying to pack “lightly.”  The obvious first tip is to pack travel-sized toiletries. If you are only traveling with a carry-on bag, standard sized toiletries are not allowed and will likely have to be discarded at the security checkpoint. Secondly, as I mentioned above, packing cubes are great.  I usually pack one cube based on activity whether it be for exercise, sleep, business, etc.  It helps keep me organized when I arrive at my destination. USA Today offers these additional tips:

  • Roll your clothes rather than fold them.  Tightly rolled clothing takes up less space.
  • Make a packing list to ensure you don’t forget something and to keep you honest in what you pack.
  • Weight your luggage before you get to the airport so you aren’t the traveler emptying your suitcase in front of the rest of the airport.
  • Pay attention to airline baggage fees.
  • Follow TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for packing gels and liquids in your carry-on luggage.  Believe it or not, foods such as mashed potatoes, pudding, yogurt, and peanut butter are classified as gels.  Mascara and lip gloss are also considered a liquid or gel.  Any of these must be no larger than 3.4 ounces each and must all fit in one quart-sized Ziploc bag.
  • Choose your personal carry-on item wisely.  Rather than carry a small purse, take a larger tote that will fit under the seat in front of you.  Not only can you store your small purse inside, but you can keep items readily available that you might need during your flight.  I often pack an empty purse in my checked bag to use once I arrive at my destination.
  • Never pack your essential or valuable items such as medication, passport/identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, or electronics in your checked luggage.  Your trip would head south quickly if your luggage were lost with all of these items inside.

No matter where your airline travels take you, whether for business or pleasure, I hope you find these tips and suggestions helpful.  Safe travels and bon voyage!


USA Today. “How to Pack Carry-On Bags for an Airplane”.

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One response to “Up, Up, and Away: Packing Tips for Airline Travel”

  1. Great tip on packing food! I had packed peanut butter and english muffins in my carry-on once for breakfast and learned that peanut butter is a “gel” the hard way.

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