Packing Tips and Thoughts

Packing is the enemy of us all. It’s he one thing many of us tend to put off until the last minute. We hope we have everything we need, but last minute trips to the store always seem to be required. 

Carry On Bags, Fees and Checked Bags

Let’s start with the luggage. Most airlines allow for one personal item and one carry on sized item. Be mindful, however, if you have purchased a basic economy fare. Not all airlines allow for a carry on bag free of charge. A small personal item is usually the only exception. Your personal item must be able to fit under the seat and not in the overhead bin. Of course if you want to go to an extreme, maybe you’ll sew a trench coat for all your belongings and stuff them inside the pockets to avoid fees. Yes, this really happened.

Always read the fine print for luggage fees. Next, check the size of your carry on on the airlines website before you fly. Not all airlines have the same carry on bag sizes. There are no exceptions to this rule unless your flight is very empty. All carry on bags must be able to fit inside the airline’s sizer tool. If it looks big, the gate agent won’t waste time and will require you to gate check it. Their eyes are good; don’t fight with them.

If you are checking a bag, ensure you arrive at the airline’s check in counter with plenty of time. Lines can be long and if you miss the deadline to check your bag, you will not be flying on your flight. Your bag needs to go through a TSA security screening and will need at least 1 hour before departure time to make it. Ensure you bag has a nametag and the checked tag. If a tag falls off, which has happened a lot, you will still get your luggage! 


When going through security make sure you have your electronics larger than a laptop ready to go. In addition, ensure any liquids with more then 3 ounces or 100 milliliters are taken out of your carry on and put into your checked bag. You will not be allowed to fly with them. Instead of being forced to throw them away, save yourself the grief and place them in the checked bag.

Any liquids that are within the 3 oz or 100mL limit umst be inside a quart sized plastic bag or pouch. TSA or security will not allow them to be loose. Again you will be forced to throw them away. Water bottles, soda, coffee and any beverages are included in this rule. Don’t buy your drinks before security if you can’t finish them. 

Smart Luggage

One of the most popular types of luggage this days is smart luggage with the built in chargers. They are super hand dandy, but be warned that not all airlines will let you travel with them. Check the airlines website first. Unless the lithium battery is removed, you can’t check it in. There is a chance the battery could spark, overheat and cause a fire. Some airlines allow for the smart luggage to be taken as carry ons. Just check if the battery needs to be removed first.

Packing Cubes

Are you tight on space?  Have you ever thought about using packing cubes. They are nylon based compression cubes that will help you sort and organize your clothing and other items to save room. They are one of the best items I have ever bought and really really help me to stay organized! I will never go without them again! You can get them on Amazon, Target, Walmart or any travel site. 

Packing By Weight

Sarah Murdoch, one of the Rick Steves Europe travel guides has a great video about the way she packs! I highly recommend you watch it. It’s a little long, but can give you some great information and thoughts into packing. 

Final Thoughts

This isn’t a definitive list, but rather a list of things that popped into my head as I was writing this. Hope it helps. If you have any questions, please post below of feel free to drop me a message. Happy travels!