We’ve all been there. A long flight lands and you wait at the baggage carousel forever, only to find out your bag didn’t make it. After dealing with this problem one too many times, I re-evaluated how I packed to see if I could avoid checking bags altogether. It has now been over three years since I checked a bag. I have even taken two international trips with just my carry-ons! Here are some tips to help you do the same.
First, make sure you have the right kind of luggage. My current suitcase is 14" x22" x10," which is generally around the maximum carry-on size for most airlines. One thing I love about my suitcase is that each side has a cover I can zip to compress clothes on each side further. It also has a hard shell, so if it is a little too full, it won't stretch out if I can get it zipped. In addition to my suitcase, I bring a backpack when I can rather than a tote bag or purse. The extra storage from a backpack can go a long way if you organize it efficiently. Sadly, my suitcase broke recently, so I am now on the hunt for the perfect replacement. Stay tuned for what I find!
Once you are ready to begin packing, lay out all your clothes and items on the floor before you add anything to your suitcase. I create categorized piles like blouses, workout clothes, dresses, pants, etc. Seeing it all in front of you will help you figure out what you really need and what might fall into the overpacking category and can therefore stay behind. Another important thing to consider at this step is bringing things that will be easy to pack. For example, I always travel with a Patagonia jacket because it can fold into an inside pocket, allowing it to condense when needed.
After narrowing down what to bring, it is important to utilize your space effectively. Start packing by placing bulky items like shoes and coats at the bottom of your suitcase. This will maximize the remaining space above them. However, make sure not to waste the space around your shoes, as this can be a great place to squeeze in smaller items like socks, bathing suits, and underwear. I like to roll these items up so that they can easily slide into gaps.
The key to fitting the rest of your clothes in is folding them all. It takes a few extra minutes but is so worth it! This will allow you to stack your clothes with a smaller footprint and more easily slide smaller items into any open spaces. If I’m ever in a rush and try to shove clothes into my suitcase instead of going to the trouble to fold them, I always find I run out of room.
Even folded, everything may not fit perfectly right off the bat and you may need to play around with how to make your belongings fit like a puzzle. But I promise, when you are breezing through baggage claim, you'll be happy you took the time!
By: Sara Scannell