Whether it’s a carry-on bag for a one-hour flight or three huge suitcases for a major international adventure, packing for a flight is something of an art form. You can’t pack too much. You can’t pack too little. It’s all about strategic placement of clothes, smart usage of resources, and recognizing the stuff you can leave at home.
Each type of trip requires a different type of bag and a unique approach, however. Online luggage stores like Wayfair.com have dozens of luggage options depending on your individual needs.
The U.S. Department of Commerce reports the average length of an American business traveler’s stay overseas is 19 days, though the U.S. Department of Transportation says that most domestic business travel is within 250 miles of home.
In either case, you’ll need to stuff formal business attire into a tight space. Pack as few shoes as possible, for example. Bring wrinkle-free shirts, but don’t forget the after-work social wear. Frommer’s recommends you invest in a top-of-the-line rollaway carry-on suitcase for those average short trips, along with a TSA-friendly laptop case.
Conde Nast Traveler recommends some things the average stressed-out parent might not consider: bring inflatable balls for the kids to save space in the luggage, pack power strips to charge the entire family’s devices in an overnight hotel, and invest in quick-drying clothes for active children. Save space for food, both to keep the kids happy en route to the vacation spot, and to save money.
Inevitably, you’ll have to pay some baggage fees, so aim to pack to the 50-pound luggage limit in as few large suitcases as possible. With kids, you have more ticketed passengers, which gives you more carry-on bag space. ABC News suggests you use your kids to your advantage to maximize your luggage space, but to be careful not to break any TSA rules, which could delay your entire family in the security line.
A durable duffle bag or simple carry-on rollaway will do the trick for a weekend jaunt. But space is limited if you pack a single carry-on and something like a backpack that fits under the seat in front of you. National Geographic suggests you keep a “plane uniform” separate from the clothes you set aside inside your luggage. This will help maximize your limited luggage space and gives you a change of clothes in case your bags are lost or delayed.
The longer or more outdoorsy the trip, the more complicated the packing job. Backpacking or trekking basically leaves you with one bag and a very limited amount of clothing. REI lists “layering” clothing and stuffing shoes with small items among its tips for packing for big international adventures.
Ultimately, your luggage and the type of clothes you pack should make you comfortable. Pack to avoid stress, since you can’t take all the comforts of home with you. The items you carry with you to your destination should really count.