Straighten Up and Fly Light: Tips for Easier Airline Travel

Los Angeles World Airports by Jay Berkowitz(Photo Jay Berkowitz, Los Angeles World Airports )

By the time you read this post I will be on a plane, half-way to Los Angeles. And as much as I love to explore new places and return to old favourites, I truly hate to fly. This feeling has only increased as security measures have gotten stricter and airlines have become stingier with what they include in their fares. While there isn’t much we can do about this, savvy travelers know that what and how they pack can help to reduce the hassle. Here are just a few ways to make your flight go a little smoother:

Bag with text printed "This bag contains a gun, a bomb, a very large knife, and loads of drugs."Not Recommended For Airline Travel! (Photo: Whimsybags via Etsy)

Pick the Right Luggage

As much as you love your hip vintage suitcase, it is time to put it away (or check out Mandy’s suggestions on how to repurpose it) and buy a bag that meets the size and weight limitations imposed by most carriers. If, like me, you tend to bring back more than you left with, chose a soft-sided bag that can be stuffed to its limits. Crumpler’s Spring Peeper duffle is an excellent option. Weighing only 6.5 lbs., it is as easy to carry as it is to pull along on its wheels and the durable canvas construction ensures that it will hold up to rough treatment if you do end up checking it.

Crumbler trolley bag(Photo: Crumpler)

If you are packing more fragile items, a hard-sided case is the better option. Heys makes the lightest carry-ons in the world, weighing slightly more than 5 lbs. Retailing for less than $100, the xcase is an affordable and fashionable option- there are dozens of colours and patterns to chose from, including their latest Exotic Collection.

Luggage in a variety of designs(Photo: Google Images)

Lock your suitcase with TSA-approved locks if you are going to check it. And don’t forget to label your luggage with a sturdy tag on the outside and a card with your destination information tucked into an outside pocket as a backup.

Bag tag with a book cover design(Photo: Swiss Miss)

Pack Light

Unless you are going away for months and require a great mix of formal and casual clothes there is no reason that you can’t pack what you need in a carry-on. Pick a base wardrobe of neutral colours (black, grey, or tan are good choices) and add a few colourful accent pieces; this way you will be able to mix and match several outfits. Shoe addicts be warned, you should limit your selections to three pairs: a casual and a dressy pair to pack and another, the bulkiest, to wear when you travel.

Suggested wardrobe fro travel(Photo: Travelista)

There is a heated debate amongst travelers on the best way to pack clothes so that they arrive as crease-free as possible. Some like to roll their clothes but I think this takes up too much space and prefer to “bundle” pack.  This video explains the technique and includes some extra helpful hints to ensure your clothes arrive in wearable condition.

Pack Valuable Items in a Second, Smaller Bag

Most airlines allow one personal item in addition to your carry-on bag, such as a purse or a laptop bag. I choose one that is large enough to carry my wallet, travel documents, electronic items and their chargers, valuables, medications, reading material, and travel-sized toiletries. If you have to check your main bag, you will still have these important items with you. It is also easier to pull out these items for screening at the x-ray machine if they are together in one bag.

Make the most of the piece you take with you on the plane(Photo: Orla Kiely)

I also include a change of socks and underwear, in case my bag does get lost. To cut down on this list, remember that most hotels provide shampoo and condition and many will have other products such as toothpaste and deodorant on request at no extra charge. And if you travel with a lot of gadgets, consider buying a universal USB power charging cable, which will cut down on the number of cords you need to pack.

Packing a universal USB is a great travel tip(Photo: Deal Extreme)

Know Your Airport

Have a tight connection but need to grab some refreshments? Or have a long layover and looking for a way to spend the time? Do a little research before you go or download an app like Gate Guru that helps you determine which options are closest to your gate. And don’t forget that many airports have replaced the mundane food courts with more upscale options, including wine bars and spas, to help you pass the time.

Airport wine bar(Photo: Vino Volo)

While it is impossible to guarantee a stress-free flight, hopefully these tips will help to make the journey almost as enjoyable as the destination.

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One Response to Straighten Up and Fly Light: Tips for Easier Airline Travel

  1. Jamie R says:

    Great blog! And a perfect topic for Tracey to write about.

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