Boxers or briefs? Paper or plastic? Check-in or carry-on? Age-old questions, yes, but are you truly prepared to travel like a pro without submitting to the dreaded ticket counter to check-in?
Here's a quick overview of why carry-ons make the grade:
Line avoidance. Curbside check-in, ticket counter check-in, and baggage carousels all have waits associated with them. If you are on vacation this time can certainly be better spent. On a business trip this time could be better invested.
Your back. A checked bag can weigh a ton. Avoid the strain. Avoid the pain.
Your wallet. Most airlines charge a checked bag fee. And large volume luggage pieces can easily tip the scales at 40-50 lbs, adding an overweight charge. The airlines need some way to get out of bankruptcy and so are cracking down on ANY luggage that comes in over weight limits.
Your stuff stays your stuff. Between TSA searches, luggage handlers and making your connections...well, enough said. So, now that we've got you thinking, here's how you can get several days worth of stuff into that single carry-on piece.
Use your bed as the landing pad and don't even think about pulling your luggage out of the closet yet. Think head to toe, except in reverse. Start with your feet and remember you only have two! The trick here is to find a set of kicks that can be worn casually as well as in almost-formal situations. Ladies, forget the heels and gents, wingtips: verboten. Grab that all-purpose set of shoes that works with jeans or with something a bit nicer. If you like to exercise a pair of cross-trainers can also make the cut.
Now add socks (which can be stuffed into the shoes you just picked), underwear, exercise wear, skirts, pants and shirts/sweaters. A best practice would be to group each into an outfit. One outfit per day, minus one. In other words, if you are out for 4 days you need 3 days of outfits. Better yet, bring one or two coordinating tops for each bottom piece. For "day-of-travel" clothes, wear you bulkiest stuff. Another good idea is to try to wear a top that has easy-access pockets for tickets, ID, and itineraries. As for hats and gloves, don't pack them: throw them into the pockets of the jacket you are going to carry.
Now let's move onto toiletries. We are not going to bore you with what to bring here. The trick is what NOT to bring. With hotels supplying a bevy of amenities, most items in your medicine cabinet can stay home. On the "do not pack" list: hairdryers, any toiletry that comes in a full size bottle, anything breakable, and medicines for rare diseases or maladies. Investing in a travel bottle set will help you downsize the medicine cabinet significantly.
Also, if your toiletry kit is over 5 years old, take a look at some of the amazingly organized and compact kits offered by Eagle Creek.
Let the Packing Begin
As you might expect this is where we get egregiously commercial and begin recommending Eagle Creek products. But then again, we are a company committed to making travel easier, so we are on your team. In general, we recommend using a travel backpack rather than a shoulder bag as your companion piece. This saves your back and keeps your arms free.
Now let's organize the inside of the bag for easy packing, maximizing space and minimizing wrinkles. A good starter kit should include a Pack-It™ Folder 18, Cube, two Half Cubes, Shoe Sac and a Compressor Bag. Place your socks and underwear in one of the Half Cubes and your T-shirts, work out clothes, belts, ties and other roll-worthy items in the other Half Cube. Jeans and sweaters can be folded and rolled in the Cube. All other hanging garments should be carefully folded and compressed into the Pack-It™ Folder. Drop your shoes into the Shoe Sac. Throw the compressor bag into the bottom of the bag and use it as your dirty clothes hamper to collect and compress the load for the return trip. Drop all your packing items into the bag. Zip it up and away you go.
One last hint: Check in online the night before you go. That way you can proceed directly to the gate with your boarding pass in hand.
A well-packed carry-on can make your journey faster, easier and safer. So choose to carry-on and treat yourself to a grande latte with that extra free hand.