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Travel 101–Suitcase Basics

July 27, 2010

Any vacation or business trip begins with a suitcase, and how you pack and label your suitcase can determine the outcome of your trip.  There are few people out there who don’t suffer from the impulse to over-pack (if you’re one of those lucky few, then please share your secrets!), but this isn’t your only potential suitcase-related problem…what if you lose your luggage all-together?  It’s rare, but it does happen—just ask Laura, who has suffered through many lost and re-routed luggage issues.  I’ve lucked out and haven’t lost a bag yet.  Well, except for that one time when I was eight or so, and my entire family (grandparents and pets included) piled into cars to head down to Ocean Isle Beach.  In all of the hustle, somehow my poor little suitcase got left behind, right on the back stoop of the house.  Luckily this was a quiet neighborhood in Yorktown, VA, and my suitcase was right there when we came back a week later!  My grandparents were glad to know they had such a safe neighborhood.  Although I wouldn’t recommend testing out the safety of your house this way.

Read on for tips and tricks on how to pack Goldilocks-style (not too heavy, and not too light, but just right) and how to protect your luggage from woeful mishaps in the airport.

Don’t Be The Victim of Misplaced/Lost Baggage

  • To protect your luggage, air on the side of paranoia and double-check that the airline attendant has put the correct baggage claim label (with your name) on your checked bag.  This once happened to Laura and they had no way of being able to search the database system for her lost bag.  Also fill out an address tag to keep your bags extra safe and sound.
  • Always fill out the airline’s ID card (unless you already have your own) to lessen your chances of having your suitcase misplaced, or even picked up by a fellow passenger.
  • Tie a colorful ribbon to your suitcase to make it easier to identify (again, it is amazing how people in a hurry can so easily grab the wrong suitcase, especially when it is a standard color and size)
  • Buy distinctive luggage, but don’t buy expensive looking luggage.  People’s bags do get stolen.  And, chances are, a nice set of Louis Vuitton bags will get a lot more attention than average-looking beaten up suitcases will.  Expensive looking suitcases make people assume there are expensive items inside them!

Packing Tips and Tricks:

  • To save room, roll up your clothes  instead of folding them.  You’ll be amazed how much room you save by packing this way.  To prevent wrinkles, roll each item in tissue paper.
  • Stuff shoes in socks to keep them scuff-free and further save r00m (why let a few bundles of socks take up precious suitcase space?)
  • For suitcases without a fabric divider, a strip of cardboard will do the trick.
  • Take as many valuables as you can with you on the plane, including a fresh change of clothes in case they misplace your suitcase (or worse, lose it!)
  • Pack toiletries in plastic bags to prevent them from spilling all over your clothes due to air pressure.
  • Pack extra ziploc bags while you’re at it!  Better to be prepared than find your last ziploc bag ripped and wish you had an extra for the return flight.

What to Bring, and What to Leave at Home:

  • If on any given trip you end up bringing clothes you never wear, take this to heart, and ruthlessly take clothes out next time you pack!  A lighter bag is a hassle-free bag.  Plus, it leaves room for purchases.  So always pack even lighter than you think is light enough!
  • Check for your destination’s forecast, and be prepared for irregular weather.  Some cities (like London) are notorious for unpredictable weather—it can be sunny one minute and pouring the next.  Consider carrying a travel-sized umbrella, sunglasses, or a light scarf, depending on your destination.
  • If in doubt about the weather, think in terms of layers—thin tank tops are ideal as a base layer, then layer long-sleeves, cardigans, and thicker sweaters on top.  When you get hot, you can just strip away layers, and when you’re cold, you can pull a scarf out of your bag to keep you warmer.  You’ll always be prepared for warmer days and chilly nights if you think in terms of layers of clothing.
  • If you’re concerned about style, pack clothes in similar colors so that you need fewer accessories, or at least be selective in what accessories you bring.  One pair of cute neutral-colored flats may work with the majority of your outfits, and in the end you’ll be glad you aren’t lugging around more shoes than that!

Happy traveling!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another one of Laura’s new summer frozen dessert recipes!  An ice cream maker may or may not be involved…

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 27, 2010 8:45 AM

    I’m a constant traveller, my grandmother refers to me affectionately as “the gyspy” lol I already practice a lot of these, but they are some great tips! A must read if you’re going to be headed anywhere soon (:

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