1) Select your clothes, then edit down what you take – Most people take too much and over pack. Choose a unified color scheme so that shirts, blouses, pants and/or dresses all work together. Then pull out all the clothes you think you will need. Now look at what you have selected and edit out some of it, you can probably eliminate about 1/3 – 1/2 of what you have selected and still have plenty.
2) Wear you heaviest shoes – Shoes can add a lot of weight to luggage. Look at all the shoes you want/need to take and wear the heaviest.
3) Wear your heaviest jacket or coat – You might be surprised how heavy a jacket or coat can be. Just wear in on the plane and put it in the overhead bins once you reach your seat.
4) Fold and roll your clothes – Lay out shirts, pair of pants, or skirts one at a time. For pants, fold the pants in half so that one leg is on top of the other. For shirts, button the front, lay them flat, and fold back the sleeves inward on top of the shirt. Next, roll the item up from the bottom to the top. This method will reduce wrinkles and uses space more efficiently.
5) Buy light weight suitcases – The heavier your suitcase, the less clothing you’ll be able to take with you. So look for sturdy, lightweight luggage.
6) Put heavy stuff in your carry-on bag – When possible, put your heaviest items in your carry-on luggage. Airlines have weight limits for carry-on luggage but rarely with carry-ons.
7) Packing the suitcase – Put the heavier items in your suitcase first with the lightest on top. This makes it easier to compress the suitcase when you close it. Extra tip – put small items like socks or underwear inside shoes to save space. Another tip – wear your heaviest shoes, sweater and jacket.
8) Weight limits – Most U.S. airlines limit checked baggage weight to 50 pounds, while carry-on baggage limits vary greatly among airlines. Make sure you don’t exceed this weight because it will be very costly. Use your household scale to weight the bag. If the bag is to big to fit on the bathroom scale, weight yourself while you are holding or lifting the bag, then weight just yourself, and subtract this amount (your weight alone) from the combined weight (you and the bag together).
9) Contact information – Make sure you have luggage tags inside and outside all of your bags, including any carry-ons, with your contact information. I always tape a business card to the inside of each bag. Also, put a copy of your itinerary inside each bag in case the bag is misplaced or lost by the airlines during your travel. This will make it easier for the airline to reunite you with your bags.
10) Valuables – Keep valuables, passports, jewelry, prescription medicine, electronics (cameras, tablets, computers, etc.), traveler’s checks, and cash with you in your carry-on bag.
11) Prohibited items – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prohibits explosives and flammable items from all luggage. Sharp objects, like scissors and knifes, baseball bats and other sporting goods, tools, self-defense items, etc., must be in checked luggage. If you have questions about what is allowed, check the TSA’s guidelines here.
12 ) Liquids – For carry-ons, liquids are limited to the 3-1-1 rule – each passenger is allowed as many 3.4 ounces or less bottles of liquid, aerosol or gel as will fit a 1-quart clear zip bag (3 ounce bottles, 1 bag, 1 quart size bag = 3-1-1 rule). For checked bags, seal all the liquids inside a plastic zip-top bag. The changes in pressure on a plane can cause some bottles to leak or break open during flight. Read the TSA’s rule here.
13) Empty plastic bags – Throw in a few kitchen size garbage bags. These can be used to keep dirty clothes separated from your clean clothes and to hold wet bathing suits during the trip back home.
14) Optional items – For longer trips I like to take a bar of regular soap. Sure the hotels have free mini-bars of soap, but the don’t last long. In order to save space and weight, I buy the travel sizes for shampoo, lotion, and toothpaste. Check with the hotel, if they have hair dryers, you won’t need to take your own. If you like to do our own wash while on a long trip, buy individual packets of laundry detergent or you can make the packets yourself with seal-able sandwich bags, and throw in a few dryer fabric sheets.
Now you are ready to head to the airport.