I hadn't realized my travel experience might be advice-worthy, but when the plea came in, I found I had a great deal to say. At the end of the conversation, I was instructed to write a book about travel. I think I'll settle for a blog post instead.
- If I can help it, I never check a bag.
- You can fit a lot into a carry-on bag, especially if you buy a well-made one that fits TSA carry-on requirements but just barely. My go-to wheeled suitcase is the biggest it can possibly be without requiring check-in.
- Put your purse in a larger bag.
I'm a purse gal. A big purse gal. But loading everything not fit for my suitcase into my big purse while traveling can get confusing, & even the largest of purses becomes overloaded. I invested in a sturdy, long-handled Longchamp bag for travel, & I put my purse inside it to form my second carry-on. Purse stuff stays in the purse, things like magazines & my plastic-bagged toiletries go into the Longchamp.
- Carry only the basics in your smaller carry-on.
This can include but is not limited to: your wallet, your cell phone, whatever you really need from your purse, a magazine or book, your iPad/computer (see later bullet point), your Ziploc-bagged toiletries, your boarding pass.
- Roll your clothes.
If you want. I don't, because then stuff gets wrinkly, & I really hate ironing, but apparently rolling saves buku space. If you don't roll your clothes, fold them very neatly! Act like you work at the GAP.
- Pick an outfit color scheme.
Do not bring both brown and black shoes, if you can help it. I coordinate my packed outfits to ensure that everything I've brought with me will match the same one pair of shoes - plus an additional pair, like sneakers or heels, if needed. This way, I'm wearing my only pair of shoes on the plane, & there's only one pair of shoes, at most, taking up space in my bag.
- Wear the bulky stuff.
If I want to bring something warm, which usually equates with “something that takes up space in my bag,” I wear it on the plane to free up packing space. This can be annoying when it's 80 degrees outside & I'm toting around a hoodie, but planes are usually chilly, so it works.
- Bring flip-flops.
Hotel carpet sketches me out. And sometimes you need to run down the hallway to get a soda - do you want to have to strap on your sandals just to pop out for a minute? Flip-flops are like slippers for travelers - multi-purpose, easy-to-pack, emergency footwear.
- Minimize metal.
I know you want to look seksi while flying, but you’ll make it easier on yourself & everyone standing in line behind you at security if you factor TSA guidelines into your fashion choices before leaving for the airport. Don’t wear the jeans that require a belt, & go easy on jewelry, or put it in your purse to be worn once you’re safely at your gate.
- Put your shoes through security first.
This way, if TSA selects your suitcase as needing additional inspection, you're at least wearing your shoes while you stand around waiting.
- Ready yourself while you wait.
The less you have to do when it’s your turn to load up the security bins, the better. Unbuckle/untie your shoes. Take off your blazer or hoodie. Put your cell & any metal jewelry in your bag to make it easier to gather once you’re through the checkpoint. Store your boarding pass in a safe place.
- Your computer needs its own bin.
Don’t put it in with your shoes. Do take it out of its case.
- When traveling, iPad > computer.
I recognize that not everyone is an indulgent as I sometimes am, & therefore this will only apply to a few of you, who've likely already figured this one out. When traveling, I only take my laptop if I reeeeeally need it. TSA doesn't require you to remove an iPad from your bag during security checks, making the whole thing go much more smoothly. Also: LESS HEAVY.
- If you must bring a computer, be wise.
Pack it in your smaller, more accessible carry-on initially, so that you can access it for security removal. When you've made your way through security, pop that heavy sucker into a rolling bag so you don't have to shlep it anymore. You can do the same with Ziploc-bagged toiletries.
- Go easy on the liquids.
Do you really need to bring nail polish? Are you that insistent upon bringing your own shampoo instead of using the hotel’s? My plastic baggie typically contains a lip gloss, concealer, a small tube of moisturizer that doubles as sunscreen, toothpaste, contact solution, a travel-size bottle of hairspray &… that’s it. For longer trips, I stop at a drugstore in my destination to pick up travel-sized items I can leave behind before I return home.
- Pack your jewelry in your clutch.
If I need to bring a fancy purse for an event, I always double its use by storing my necklaces in it on the road. Smart, I know.
- Don't bring a hairdryer.
Your hotel has one.
- Buy the Kindle app.
Books are heavy, y'all. And while I fully advocate the printed word in, you know, print, I rely upon my iPhone's Kindle app for all things novel while on the road. My shoulders thank me.
- Pack an extra phone charger.
Put one in each carry-on bag, just in case you leave one on the bus or at the hotel. Not that I've ever done that & had to purchase a new one from a dirty KMart.
- Don't buy snowglobes souvenirs.
They're TSA-prohibited, no matter how small. SNOWGLOBES = TERRORISM.
Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5