Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to Pack Luggage For a Flight

He who would travel happily must travel light. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If you travel a lot you probably have your own luggage packing routine. You know what you will need during the trip, you know what to expect in your hotel, or what you will need when you get stranded at some airport when your connecting flight is delayed because of bad weather condition or a technical problem. 

When you travel as much as I do you are probably amused at the size of luggage people are carrying. Sometimes it seems that they have packed their entire household and if you asked them, they were not moving to another country, they were only going for a two-week vacation. 

Thanks goodness, airlines have a weight limit for the passenger's checked-in luggage and also a size and weight limit for their carry on. But there is always the giant sombrero someone bought in Mexico, or a fragile Balinese wood carving that make their way to passenger cabin and a surprised look on passenger's face when he learns that there is no space for such items in the overhead bins. 

So how to pack for a trip? 

What ends up in your suitcase depends entirely on the type of trip you are making and the duration of the trip. You pack differently for a vacation in the Alaskan wilderness than for a business trip to New York. As you can imagine, you probably do not need evening attire in the woods and you definitely do not need trekking boots at a board meeting, but there are things like undergarments, socks and personal care items that should always be in your luggage. 

It may also seem to inexperienced traveler that the longer the trip the more one has to pack. This is not necessarily true. When you plan to spend three weeks at a resort in Bahamas you can be sure that they have laundry and dry cleaning services, and that there is enough time to get your stuff washed or dry cleaned. This, depending on the hotel you are in, may not be possible on an overnight trip.

To minimize the size of your luggage try to pack items that match and can be worn together in different combinations. Pack enough socks and underwear and always make sure that you are prepared for the eventuality that the airline lost your bags. Here a story of a fellow passenger comes to mind. It happened many years ago on the flight to Novosibirsk, Russia. The man was greatly concerned because his luggage did not make it on time from another destination and he went to Russia without his suitcase. The airline promised to deliver his luggage with next flight. The next flight, however, was six days later. This might not have been a problem in London or Paris, but in Novosibirsk in the late 1980s there was not much you could buy. The only luck that this man had was the fact that this was August and not December. He probably went to his meeting in his not so fresh T-shirt.

Stories like this one are very common. To avoid unnecessary stress, have a change of underwear and socks in your luggage, a clean shirt, a pair of slacks, and a few other items you might need right away. Always plan enough time between the connecting flights. Your travel agent may not be as travel savvy as he claims. A little delay here and bad weather over there and your entire trip goes down the drain. Also remember that making a short connection when you have to run from one gate to another with three or four pieces of hand luggage is not as easy as you imagine.  

One last thing. Check the current security requirements and luggage regulations of your chosen airline. There are certain items you are not allowed to carry in your hand luggage and some that you are not allowed to put into your checked bags. Also check customs regulations for your final destination. This will tremendously help you to avoid unnecessary stress.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2015


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