With tighter airport security restrictions, packing for a vacation poses a special challenge for summer travelers. How can you look polished and pulled together with a duffel bag stuffed with clothes or a suitcase that gets dragged across the tarmac, then stuffed in an overheated car?
Whether you’re leaving for a weekend of shopping and sightseeing in Boston, a week of surfing in Oahu, or an extended visit to family, these five tips will ease the stress of packing:
1. Buy travel-sized toiletries. If you’re packing 3 ounce shampoos and lotions in your carry-on, then want to bring an extra quart-sized bag (if you don’t need it, then you can give to someone else in the security line who does). Empty film canisters fit enough shampoo or bath gel for a long weekend. Manufacturers have also created a number of alternatives to liquid toiletries. Travel-friendly products include tooth powder and solid shampoo (looks like a bar of soap and won’t spill in your suitcase).
2. Wear your heaviest clothes instead of packing them. Shoes take up a lot of space in your suitcase, so when possible wear your bulkiest pair while you’re in the airport. If you’re packing a second pair of shoes, stuff socks and underwear into the toe to maximize space. Since airplanes tend to be chilly, you’ll also want to dress in layers with a light sweater or jacket, which frees up more space in your luggage.
3. Pack valuables and prescriptions in your carry-on. With new rules about liquids in your carry-on luggage, some travelers opt to check everything and avoid having strangers rummaging through their baggage in the security line. But at the very minimum, you should keep essential medications, copies of any important phone numbers (your hotel, car service, and emergency contact numbers), and credit cards just in case your luggage is delayed. If you’re going someplace warm and sunny like a cruise ship, you may want to pack your bathing suit as a carry-on so you’ll be able to hit the pool first thing.
4. Pack basic clothes and colorful accessories. If you stick to a simple color scheme for your vacation wardrobe, it will be easier to mix and match. Wear a little white dress as a beach cover-up during the day, then dress it up with a colorful wrap and eye-catching jewelry for evening. Linen does not travel well, so it’s best to bring light, flowy fabrics like jersey cotton because they won’t wrinkle.
5. Bring an extra bag. If you’re planning to buy clothes, gifts, or souvenirs on your trip, pack a lightweight zipper tote or duffel bag in your suitcase. That way you’ll be able to bring home all your new finds. Or if you’re checking luggage and it’s overweight, just take out a few of the heavier objects and pack them separately.