5 Tips to Pack Like a Travel Pro
We've come a long way from the days of breezy security, cheerful staff and plentiful free drinks on planes. Maybe flying used to be fun, but these days your only goal when getting on a plane is likely to be escaping with the minimum annoyance possible.
If your business compels you to fly frequently, this certainly isn't news, and you probably already have strategies for packing so as to minimize the hassle of travel. But according to industry insiders such as travel editors and flight attendants, there are probably some professional-grade tricks you're not yet using. What are they?
Never Neglect the Basics
You probably already know this but it's so essential, it bears repeating. The team behind travel site Fathom recently called these the golden rules: Carry-on instead of checking so that you can exit the airport immediately after reaching your destination. Check in online 24 hours before a flight, not only to save time at the airport but also to get a better seat.
Roll, Don't Fold
To achieve an all carry-on trip, you'll need to save space. So how can you get more clothes in your limited luggage and not wind up with creases on arrival? Forget folding, says a New York Times article rounding up airline staff's travel tips:
To make room for these new travel necessities, many flight attendants roll their clothes rather than fold them to save space. Nerea Gomez-Cambronero, an attendant with Air Europa Líneas Aéreas in Majorca, Spain, has taught friends and relatives to roll-pack clothes. “The rolling-your-clothes tip is the basis of my entire company,” said Don Chernoff, an engineer and frequent traveler, whose www.skyroll.com offers a line of luggage that encourages rolling rather than folding. “It’s a more efficient use of the space.”
If you have creased trousers, fear not. Butler Bureau has a video explaining how classically trained household staff keep them crisp, which entertainingly features the sort of unflappable British accent you always imagined for your fictional butler.
Even Better, Bag It
If you're still space challenged even after employing the rolling trick, then Fathom has another idea. "Air-compression packing bags are miraculous, squeezing air out of clothes, giving you more room in the suitcase. Giant Ziploc bags work, too. Just roll them tight," suggests the post. The Huffington Post's SmarterTravel blog recommends Eagle Creek compression bags.
Dodge the Liquids Hassle
Under current safety rules, toiletries cause tons of hassle. "Attempt to bring a large bottle of shampoo or a full-size gel deodorant through the security line and the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff," SmarterTravel reminds flyers.
The solution, according to Fathom, may seem like a luxury, but the blog claims this technique pays off in the long run: "Give up squeezing your favorite face wash into tiny tubes. Buying travel-size items of your favorite products — and laundry detergent — and keeping them at the ready in a Ziploc under your sink might seem indulgent, but it will save time, product, frustration, and your skin. 3Fl.Oz. is our favorite source for these."
Take a Cue From Carrie Bradshaw
You may be more of a hoodie and jeans type than a fashionista like the protagonist of Sex and the City, but in the case of packing, take a lesson from Carrie—accessories count, especially shoes. "Select shoes, then coordinate outfits around them. Three pairs should be the maximum," one Los Angeles-based flight attendant told the New York Times. Save more space, and keep your shoes shaped, by shoving rolled socks inside your selected footwear.
Fathom also agrees that clever accessories are key to packing light (but well), as is thinking through your outfits from top to toes. "Check that you've packed everything you need by mentally dressing yourself from shoes and socks up to goggles and hats," suggests the site, which also urges business travelers to "pack something small that can make any outfit smarter. You never know when you'll need to look sharp. For men, an uncreasable silk knotted tie. For women, a fancy scarf."
Looking to upgrade your travel expertise even more? Fathom has a whopping two dozen tips in total, while the UK's Telegraph newspaper outdoes itself with 50, covering just about every aspect of managing your journey, and your suitcase.
What is your top tip for hassle-free flying?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.