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  • Starr Wlodarski

10 Best Packing Tips

No matter the length of a trip – be it a weekend getaway or a 3 week trip to Asia – you’ll need to pack a bag, and you’ll want to pack it right.

Packing is pivotal. Forget an essential item and your left disappointed and scrambling to find the nearest store in your destination. Pack too much and you end up disorganized, burdened with heavy bags, and hemorrhaging money to pay for pricey airline baggage fees.

So we thought it was best to visit the most basic -and most useful- packing rules, that we use. Here are 10 fundamental packing strategies that every traveler should learn.

1. Roll don’t fold. Many travel experts -including backpackers, who must stuff months’ worth of clothing into a pack the size of a box of wine –agree that rolling is superior to folding. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, they’re less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases. 2. Make a packing list When it comes to packing, procrastinators fall short. Start your packing process days, or even weeks ahead of your departure date; this gives you time to craft a complete list, plus purchase any additional item you may need for your vacation. Creating a packing list is a fail-safe way to ensure you never forget to bring something important.

3. Know your airline’s baggage-fee policy Figuring out the airlines’ tricky and befuddling baggage-fee policies is key to any budget-friendly packing strategy. While most airlines permit travelers to check at least one bag for free on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for checked bags on domestic flights. Some discount airlines, and some classes of passengers on the major airlines, even charge for carry-on bags. Before you start packing, take a look at your airline’s website and read its baggage policy. This is something you might want to do before you purchase your airline ticket, especially if you're planning on a checked bag or two. (FYI, most of the discount airlines have much higher fees for both carry-on and checked luggage and have lower weight allowances than the major airlines). 4. Use Packing Cubes On a trip there is nothing that makes us feel like we are organized as much a dividing our belonging into packing cubes. It’s so wonderful to know exactly where everything you brought is as soon as you unzip your suitcase. Plus, you can easily move your packing cubes into the drawers of your hotel room and instantly be done unpacking and ready to go. 5. Choose a Travel Palette To reduce the amount of clothing you pack, stick to a strict color palette: a base of neutrals, like black or grey, and then one accent color like red. You’ll be able to put together a week’s worth of different outfits from a few basic pieces. Pack shoes that complement every outfit. 6. Pack Realistically You might imagine yourself going on a morning run on the beach, but if this isn’t already part of your daily routine, you probably won’t do it while you’re on vacation. And you might end up dining at a five- star restaurant – but you don’t need to pack your best designer dress, just in case. In short, be honest with yourself on what you're likely to be doing and wearing on your trip. If you're packing something purely for a what-if scenario, you should take it out of your suitcase. 7. Fill Dead Space In addition to rolling up your outfits and using packing cubes, when it comes to packing, make use of every little inch of suitcase space that you can. Rolls tops, underwear, socks, and other small items and stuff them into your shoes to make sure every possible space is filled.

8. Weight is Your Enemy While we want to maximize the packing space we use; we want to do it smart in a way that minimizes the weight of our luggage. Airlines make some serious money in fees from unsuspecting travelers who check a bag that is over the weight limit. Don’t let that be you. In addition to the quantity of clothes you bring; think about the weight of the clothes themselves. Consider wearing your heavier shoes on the plane and packing those sandals instead.

Instead of bringing that heavy wool jacket, consider layering a lightweight wool sweater with and light wind breaker that will keep you just as warm. Bring digitized versions of all those books you're planning on reading on the beach, and the maps you are going to use to explore Europe. It may be time to explore the option of purchasing some good light weight luggage. That hard shell suitcase you are currently using can add up to 9 pounds of weight before you even start packing. And don’t assume that expensive designer suitcase will get you an upgrade – instead its more likely to attract thieves at the airport and on your travels. Most importantly, always Weight Your Luggage before you leave, to see how close you are to the weight limit. 9. Leverage Your Personal Item Its standard for most airlines to allow each traveler to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on board the airplane. The personal item is subject to specific size requirements (these vary by airline), but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is generally acceptable. One thing we always advise our clients is to leverage their personal-item allowance. Forget wasting your personal-item allowance on a small purse. Bring a larger tote bag that you can stash under the seat but will still give you extra storage space. This will come in handy for keeping all the things you will need to be on hand during the flight within arms’ reach as well. 10. Follow the 3-1-1 Rule What happens when you do not follow the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage? Attempt to bring a full-sized bottle of shampoo through the security line and the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff, holding you up in the process. So, get use to the agency’s rules: All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-sized bag per passenger. It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and therefor subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mash potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid medications are exempt.

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