Think Before You Pack

Yes, they did it again.  Airlines have once again raised the rates for checking luggage on a flight.  It started out as a relatively small fee to encourage people to carry on a bag instead of checking one.  It has turned into a loud calling of “don’t check your bag!”  Airlines no longer want to deal with the hassle of hundreds of checked bags per flight, so they are making it costly for you to do anything besides carrying on.

What you pack depends entirely on where you are going, why you are going there, and how long you intend to be there.  A two-day trip is simple.  You can fit everything you need into a small bag that can easily be carried on and stowed in the cabin.  It is the longer trips, or the trips where you need several changes of clothes that will require you to plan ahead to save yourself some money.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is:  “How much do I REALLY need to pack?”  Do you need three pairs of shoes?  Will one or two suffice?  Do you need your hair dryer?  Will the hair dryer in the hotel do the job?  Can you reuse a pair of pants?  Do you need casual and athletic clothes?  These are all things to think about when pulling your clothes out to pack up.  If you simply cannot fit everything into a bag that will work as a carry-on, you want to make sure that you limit yourself to as few checked bags as possible.  Most airlines have a weight limit of 50 pounds.  This is important to keep in mind when choosing a bag.  Rather than using two medium sized suitcases, get a large one and put everything in.  Make sure to weigh it to keep it under the 50-pound limit, or you will find yourself being charged more for the single bag that you would for two bags.

To keep yourself down to a single bag, you might need to get better at packing.  Instead of just throwing everything into the bag and trying to close it, some creative folding can make the job much more efficient.  Socks and underwear can be rolled up and packed into corners or into shoes.  Pants and shirts can be smoothed as flat as possible, then folded to make sure that they take up as little space as necessary.  Belts can be rolled into tight coils.  If you can do without a certain item or piece of clothing, leave it at home.  Also, do not forget that any liquids will have to go in the bag, due to stringent carry-on rules.  Put your toothpaste, deodorant, cologne, shaving cream, and any other toiletry liquid into the compartment on the top of the bag.  This will save room inside of the bag for clothing and other items.

Packing your bags with forethought can save you a great deal of money when traveling by airplane.  Be sure to take the time to pack your bags smartly and you will not be forced to fork over any more of your money to the airlines.

How Much Luggage Do You Need?

Many people wonder how much luggage they should own.  One bag?  Two bags?  An entire set, six backpacks, and two duffel bags?  Of course, the answer depends on what kind of traveler you are.

The business traveler might take an overnight trip, or he might take a week-long trip.  What will he be doing when he gets there?  Wearing “business formal” to meetings every day of the trip?  Wearing business casual in an office setting?  Wearing work clothes on a job site?  Many business travelers will have to do a combination of these throughout the year.  This type of traveler should have a smaller wheeled bag that will fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane.  This will allow him to take between one and three days worth of clothes and supplies, depending on the type of dress needed.  The business traveler should also have a large wheeled bag for longer trips.  This will allow him to carry upwards of a week’s worth of clothing and supplies.  This bag will have to be checked, but most people expect that on such a long trip.  If this type of traveler has to wear formal clothes, a garment bag is a must.  This type of bag will hold several suits, allowing them to be put in the bag on a hanger and only folded over one time, keeping them from getting the same amount of wrinkling and folding that a regular suitcase would cause.

The casual traveler should have a bag for every type of trip.  A good sized duffel bag that can fit in an airplane’s overhead compartment is good for a short one or two day trip.  If you have to carry shoes, a small or medium wheeled bag is good.  The medium wheeled bag will likely have to be checked in at the airport, but that is not the end of the world.  For a longer trip, a larger wheeled bag will allow you to keep everything together, but you might also want to use the combination of a medium wheeled bag and a duffel bag for easier storage.  An even longer trip, something that lasts two weeks or more, might require the use of the large wheeled bag, the medium wheeled bag, and the duffel bag.  This would give you two bags to check in at the airport and one to carry on to the airplane to store in the overhead compartment.

A traveling family will need multiple bags of each type.  A family of four taking a week-long vacation would easily fill up two large wheeled bags and three small wheeled bags.  The small wheeled bag and the duffel bag can be interchangeable, though children might have an easier time carrying the small wheeled bag.

At the end of the day, any kind of traveler should have at least a duffel bag, a small wheeled bag, and a large wheeled bag.  Anybody traveling with suits or pressed shirts would be wise to invest in a garment bag.  Purchasing quality luggage will ensure that it lasts for a long time.