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How to Pack Smartly for a Plane Trip

A plane journey can be stressful, but it can also be fun and enjoyable. What and how you pack can greatly effect this. Here's how to pack efficiently and smartly to guarantee a fun plane ride!


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    Make a list. You can use a generated list to make things easier. You fill out where you're going, what the temperature is going to be around, who you will be traveling with, and what size suitcase you will bring, then it creates a packing list for you. Search online or use an app for such a generated list.[1] You could copy-and-paste this into a word document then changing it to meet your needs. Remember, the less you pack, the better. If you're not using a generated list, here are the basics:
    • Toiletries. You don't need everything (hotels have shampoo and the like), but bring your toothbrush and more personal items like deodorant.
    • Medications. Bring any prescription medications, and don't forget any occasional medicines you personally use, like ibuprofen or Claritin.
    • Clothes. Try to bring versatile clothes, like pants that match multiple shirts. Don't forget enough underwear and socks.
    • Specialty items. Are you going swimming? Hiking? Pack any items you need for activities like these.
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    Pick out your bags. By picking two smaller bags (ie. a roller bag that can fit in the overhead bins and a backpack for under the seat) you eliminate having to check any luggage at all, and that also eliminates lost luggage and finding luggage at the baggage claim! However, if you are unable to carry-on your suitcase, some important things to remember are:
    • Most airlines charge per bag, so aim for big suitcases if you need to to cut down on number.
    • However, overweight bags typically cost more than additional bags, so be careful!
    • Choose unique bags. You want to be able to spot it quickly at the pickup carousels. If you have a generic bag, put a marker like a ribbon on it.
    • Aim for at least one roller. You can stack a duffel bag on top of a roller bag, but carrying multiple duffel bags is a drag.
    • Check for damages to your suitcases/bags before you go.
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    Pack it all up the day before your trip. In the rolling suitcase, pack all of your clothes, toiletries, and items you won't need until you arrive. There are many different ways to pack, but many people find that rolling up your clothes keeps clothes from wrinkling and saves space in your suitcase. If you don't like that method, do some research to find other ways to pack your clothes. As you pack, check things off of your list to make sure that you haven't forgotten anything.
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    Recharge all your essential devices. The day before your trip, plug in all the devices you will be traveling with, such as cell phones, iPods/MP3 players, portable game systems, digital cameras, and any other device that require charging. Remember to bring your chargers with you if you think your devices will run out of battery while you're away.
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    Pack your carry on. Bring things to entertain you while on the flight, like books, electronics, etc. Put your chargers in your carry-on in case you need to charge up at a layover. If you get hungry a lot, avoid high costs by packing a snack. Remember that you can only bring 3 oz. of liquids in a 1 quart bag through security.
    • Double-check TSA guidelines before packing something in your carry-on. You don't want to have to throw anything away.
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    Weigh your suitcases. Each passenger gets a baggage allowance, which is usually determined by fare, destination, date of travel and how frequently you fly. To make sure that your suitcase doesn't exceed the weight limit, weigh your suitcase beforehand. There are gadgets to do this for you, or you can use a bathroom scale. If you are having problems with your scale, first weigh yourself, then weigh yourself with the suitcase, and subtract the the weight of you alone. Find out your baggage allowance, and if you luggage exceeds it, consider taking out some items.
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    Take care of last-minute items. As you're packing, make a list of things that you don't have or need to pack last-minute. If you don't have a travel toothbrush, or you had to use your phone charger the night before, write it down and put the note in a noticeable area for easier remembering.


  • Put all paperwork and boarding passes in a place you can remember and can access easily once you get to the airport.
  • When you board the plane, first put the rolling suitcase in an overhead bin close to you (if you didn't check it in). Then sit down and place your backpack under your seat.
  • If you're a parent, give your kids a small bag to pack all their stuff to do in so they won't get bored, but keep it small.
  • Don't stuff. Pack neatly so you can find things easily and it won't be a hassle.
  • Remember to double-check your list.
  • Give yourself lots of time to get to the airport, especially if you need to go to the luggage checking area.
  • Load up the car with everyone's bags the night before the trip to save time in the morning.
  • Upon landing and arriving at the gate, first stand up and put your backpack on. This is best done while you are still standing in front of your seat. Then, walk into the aisle and grab your rolling suitcase from the bin.
  • Bring a camera in your carry-on! Some of the most beautiful pictures can come from a camera that is 35,000 feet (10,668.0 m) in the air!
  • Pack your bags at least two to three days before the flight.

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Categories: Travel Packing