Summer Packing Travel Essentials: Part 1

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Summer is just around the corner. For most people, this means it’s time to take a much needed family vacation. Depending on where you are intending to travel to, your needs of what to bring with you may vary. Based on the three trips I’ve already taken this year, I’ve decided to compile a list of what I consider the most important items to take with you. Keep in mind I am by no means an expert, but part one of my summer packing series will help you be prepared.


Suitcases come in all shapes and sizes. You need to decide first if you are going to want a soft luggage case or a hard case. Wheels or no wheels? Straps or no straps. Are you going to be carrying on your bag or checking it? Does it need to be able to fit under your seat? Will be you coming back with souvenirs? Depending on how you are traveling, I would higher encourage you to ensure there are no weight requirements for your bags before deciding on which type to buy.

Your bag may weight more than you think; invest in a baggage scale. If may save you an overweight luggage fee. Even if your bag is “free” if it’s overweight, there are very few exceptions to the airline fee. As a former gate agent I can’t stress enough about how much we did not make any exceptions for checked baggage weight. European carriers especially are very strict with your carry on for carry on baggage weight (especially lower cost European carriers).

Once you know the type of bag you want, invest in a luggage tag and some type of way to distinguish your bag from others (especially if it is black). I can’t tell you the horror stories about how baggage tags for luggage have fallen off a bag, been ripped off, gotten stuck to the convener belt and did not have any other type of identification on it. It is unfortunately common and it can all be saved by having your name on a luggage tag on your bag.

If you are looking for some great luggage deals right now, look on websites like Amazon, Costco, eBags, and REI. I encourage you to read the reviews of everything first.

(NOTE** If you purchase smart luggage, check with your carrier if you want to check the bag! Airlines do not allow for any lithium batteries to be checked! They are extremely flammable and must be in your hand bags! If you have smart luggage, remove the batteries before you travel. )

Packing Cubes

I discovered packing cubes last year and have never looked back! It was hands down the one item that has forever changed my life. Packing cubes, like luggage, come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. They are available in nylon and even air compressible. Why are they so fantastic?They will help you stay organized and will allow you to maximize the space in your bag. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, don’t. You can get a set at Target for as little as $6.

Liquids and Quart Sized Bags

I always, always, always, travel with a couple of extra quart sized plastic bags. You never know when you will have some dirty laundry, wet swim suits, food, or other items you need wrapped up and put away. They are a huge help as you will also need all liquids in your hand baggage to be kept in a plastic bag no larger than a quart.

The universal maximum allowance for liquids and containers is 3.4 ounces or 100 mL. If you are in doubt, put your liquids in your checked bag or stick it in a quart bag. You are allowed one quart bag of liquids per ticketed traveler in your group. When I say liquids this group will also include gels and aerosol sprays.

There is an exception to this rule….do you have any food allergies? Baby formula? Medicines? These items are exempt from the size rule. If you are planning to put them in your carry on baggage, ensure you let the security officer know ahead of time at the check point so they don’t confiscate it.

Are you worried about the size of your liquids? Don’t bring them with you. Unless I need something like my specific contact lens solution, I tend to buy my sunscreen, shampoo, body wash and other items when I reach my final destination. It makes for a lot less worry about spilling them in my bag and an excuse to go shopping!

Other Items

Other items I like to have handy in my personal bag are my phone charger, head phones, an extra battery for my camera and baby wipes. Baby wipes like quart sized bags are fantastic for wiping everything down on a plane, train or bus. I’ll go into more detail on my next post. Hope this gets you started! Happy travels!