How to Pack Light for a Flight


Businessman with Stuffed SuitcaseHave you noticed that checking luggage is getting more and more expensive? I have. And when you’re traveling on a budget, carrying on instead of checking your bag is a quick way to save a buck. The problem: how to fit everything you need into a carry-on sized bag.

Best Ways to Slim Down Your Suitcase

Roll your clothes.

Recently, my friend caught me midway through my packing and was astounded to see how much space I saved by rolling by clothes. I do admit this trick gets a little difficult for men with stiff collared shirts or women with heavier dresses, but otherwise it’s quite effective. Pants, shorts, sweaters, thin dresses—they all roll up nicely when trying to squeeze into a tight suitcase.

Put your shoes in first.

Shoes are constantly the heaviest and largest items I have to pack. And, let me add, often the most difficult to pick out. Best practice is to keep to 2-3 pairs of shoes for a single trip. Try to choose something neutral or can be matched with various different outfits. Once you figure out what to take, place your shoes in to your suitcase first. Place them along the edges to distribute weight and allow you to stack items in between them.

Pack layers.

No matter you clever you are, there’s just no way to make a winter coat less bulky. If your destination is cold, plan to layer up. Under Armour shirts or long underwear coupled with a couple sweaters can be just as warm as your parka but take up less than half the space. Oh, and you can roll Under Armour shirts.

Buy the travel size.

If you have to bring liquids, which I know people often do, buy the travel size. Most hotels today will provide shampoo, but I know it’s not always the best quality. So make a stop at your local grocery store or CVS and check out their travel section. Just don’t forget to keep all your liquid toiletries in a plastic bag (liquid make-up included) and pack it at the top of your bag. You’ll need to be able to access it at security.

Fill the crevices.

Packing can be a test in geometry and spatial awareness. There are plenty of little gaps that develop as you continue to pile in item after item. One of my favorite tricks: stuffing my shoes. When I pack closed toed shoes, I always take advantage of the couple inches of free space within the shoes by stuffing them with shirts, belts, socks, etc.

Skip the paper books; bring your tablet.

I love books, don’t get me wrong. I much prefer sitting at home in front of the fire with a real book, but that’s just not feasible on the plane. If you haven’t already joined the tablet bandwagon, hop on. The ability to carry an unlimited number of books with you in a single device is a life-saver for voracious readers.

Relax…

Anything you forget, you can always buy there. I’ve never been to a place yet where I couldn’t purchase the necessary items for a trip. I would even dare to say most airports offer a place to purchase the bare essentials. So don’t worry about squeezing in shampoo when it won’t fit—just pick up a bottle on your way.

Anna Albi is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing with an additional major on Professional Writing. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Professional Writing, also at CMU. Feel free to reach out to her through Google+.

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