Maxwell has lived in Africa, Asia and Europe. He enjoys writing and sharing about the places he's visited and experienced.
Whether you’re packing for a short vacation or a lengthy one, traveling to a nearby destination or venturing further afield, packing luggage for a flight is part of the process . . . and sometimes it can be an awfully tedious affair.
With that said, this necessary part of a flight doesn’t always have to be a negative or time-consuming experience; with a few tweaks, it can become an easy episode.
This article will share tips for how best to pack clothes, accessories, toiletries, and miscellaneous extras.
How to Pack Clothes for Traveling
Roll up your clothes rather than folding them.
Folded clothes take up surface area, whereas rolled-up ones save space. You don’t notice much of a difference with small, short-sleeve items, but when you get to long-sleeve clothing, this trick becomes a gamechanger.
Wear the most cumbersome articles.
Sometimes a sweater of some kind has to be packed, you need to bring along bulky shoes, or a very specific and large article needs to be included. Rather than packing these items and letting them weigh down your luggage, put them on and save space and weight at the same time.
Layer on your clothes, if you must.
This can be utilized in two distinct ways; if you’ve reached your suitcase limit and still want to take along more clothes, then you can wear those extra clothes for your flight. Or if you find out at the airport that your luggage is too heavy, you can take some clothes out and layer them on top of what you're already wearing. Thankfully, as of yet, there’s no weight regulation on passengers.
Use vacuum packs.
If your baggage is within the weight limits but you're struggling to fit everything in, you can tackle the problem by making use of vacuum packs. These airtight sachets are an excellent way of compressing bulky or grouped articles into manageable loads.
Rotate your clothing.
The key to bringing less is to make the most of the situation, and one way to do this is to frequently cycle through the little clothing you bring or elongate the duration of wear. The only matter you have to be aware of when doing this is to wash your used clothes in good time so they’re available when it’s time to rotate to the next pair.
How to Safely Pack Accessories
Keep them in your carry-on bag.
You can walk about with most, if not all, accessories on your person as opposed to having to pack them away. Have a book? Hold on to it. Brought a laptop? Same thing. Have a handheld device? The situation doesn’t change.
Layer fragile items in the middle.
If you’re going to your destination with a fragile item in your luggage or you’re returning with a fragile souvenir, it’s safest if you layer it in a protective wrap and place items below and on top of it. The protective wrap can be anything from clothing to bubble wrap, or some other material. The idea here is to ensure it doesn’t get jostled around in your luggage, and if it does, the layers should protect it from harsh vibrations and impacts.
Separate sensitive items.
Whether you do it with a pouch or a Ziplock, it’s good to separate items that can either be damaged or damage other goods. For example, if you have electronic accessories (chargers, USBs, or a portable device) it’d ease your conscience to have them neatly put away and protected from possible liquids. Alternatively, if you’re carrying something that can affect other items (like bathroom articles) seal those up. At the end of the day, if something was to go wrong, most clothes can always be washed, but other items aren’t as easy to fix.
Sealed items are OK.
There are some items that come across as suspicious or questionable (such as products that come in the form of a powder or liquid), and at times these items may be confiscated from you regardless of whether they’re part of your carry-on luggage or checked luggage. More often than not, if you want to get around this problem, make sure that the item is sealed (i.e. new and unused) and you should be fine. Granted, that item still has to follow TSA's other rules.
Weaponizable items are NOT OK.
Any object that can cause harm or injury to yourself or others may get confiscated. This isn’t clear cut, as some places will confiscate lighters and other locations will allow you to travel with them (because some of us are smokers). The same random principle also goes for nail clippers. If you have an item that you’re uncertain about, it’s best to leave it behind or pack it as checked luggage.
Tips for Packing Toiletries
Leave the towel behind.
Unless you’re very specific about what you want from your towel, you don’t need to bring one along on a trip. Your accommodation should provide one, and if you’re planning on going out somewhere, you can still make use of the provided towel. Just remember to return it.
Minimize bathroom add-ons.
The same philosophy behind the towel works for bathroom extras. Unless you have very specific needs and wants, you don’t need to bring along such things as soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and shower caps, for these will likely be provided. If you’re uncertain over what your accommodation offers, you can always contact them for confirmation.
Remember limits on gels and liquids for carry-on.
If you’re insistent on bringing your bathroom articles and you’ll be utilizing carry-on luggage, remember that there is a volume limit on the gels and liquids you bring along. This limit impacts deodorants and perfumes, creams and pastes, lotions, and sprays. It’s a simple but costly mistake to make, so be aware.
Swap gels and liquids for solids.
Ditch liquid soap for a bar of soap, and spray-on for roll-on. Think outside of the box and swap out items that have alternative products instead of having to downgrade and reduce the quantity.
Bring along a roll of toilet paper.
It cannot be emphasized enough how much of a difference a roll of TP can make. Extra points if you opt for wipes instead.
Miscellaneous Packing Tips
Be mindful of your luggage.
Be conscious of how your luggage can affect your trip. Instead of going for a suitcase, perhaps you can swap it for a duffle bag or a sack that’s more mobile and manageable. Mobility, casing material, weight, and size are some examples of factors you should consider when considering your luggage option. Are you going to be traveling on public or private transport when you arrive? Will you be staying in one location or moving around regularly with your luggage?
Make a checklist.
Nervous? Forgetful? Then make a checklist. Think beforehand of the things you’ll need, make your list and then only check them off as you pack the items away into your luggage.
Pack in conjunction with your travel partner.
If you’re not traveling alone, it’s best to make the most of traveling with a partner and share some of the load so you make the most of your space and avoid both of you bringing the same items twice while forgetting other important items.
Bring along a first-aid kit.
It’s a good and precautionary habit to get into. Learn a little about your destination and bring with you some basic essentials in your first-aid kit just in case of mishaps.
Invest in a portable battery charger.
If rolling up clothes can be a gamechanger, then having a battery pack can be a lifesaver. Plans can go awry and it’s even worse if you have an electronic device run out of juice. A battery pack will keep you confident come rain or shine. It’s a great investment to make.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Maxwell Kamlongera
Maxwell Kamlongera (author) on January 31, 2020:
Hey Liz, thanks for the support! After learning about rolling clothes, it made all the difference for me. It's nice to know I'm not the only one!
Liz Westwood from UK on January 31, 2020:
This is a great set of tips for any traveller. I have rolled clothes for a while now and find it works well.
Maxwell Kamlongera (author) on January 30, 2020:
Hi Linda, I'm glad you found them helpful!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 30, 2020:
Thank you for sharing some great packing tips for travelers. I've never thought of some of them before.