Travel Tips -- Packing Checklist
A lot of the hassle of travel revolves around
your suitcase. Is it large enough to carry all of your "stuff?"
Is it too heavy for the airlines' weight limits? Will
it arrive at the other end? Did all of the contents make it through the
Welcome to our Ultimate Packing Checklist, where
you'll find some of the best packing tips around.
Two Weeks or More before Leaving
Contact your health insurance
provider to verify coverage if you are leaving the country. If staying
in the U.S., be sure you know how to access health care providers where you
are going. Be sure you understand the cost implications of increased
deductibles, copays, out of network charges, etc.
Stop the newspaper and mail
delivery, or arrange for friends and neighbors to pick them up for you.
For international travel, make
two copies of your passport. Give one to a trusted
friend/neighbor/relative, and keep one at home. If your passport is
lost or stolen overseas, your friend can fax a copy of the passport to the
Before You Begin to Pack
Our packing tips begin with a few things
you need to do several weeks prior to your trip. Make a list of exactly
what you want to pack. This helps in a couple of areas -- first, your list
will serve as a packing list later on, to be sure you don't forget anything..
And second, your packing list will help you organize your packing and eliminate
a lot of "just in case" impulsive items. Make sure you have the following
items on hand:
One gallon or two gallon Ziploc bags --
Travel steamer -- steamers are used by the
finest clothing stores to prepare their stock for sale. Why
shouldn't you look your best after your clothes have been squashed in your
Folding travel hangers -- because those
permanently attached hangers in hotel rooms will drive you nuts.
Backup supplies of toiletries -- you'll be
packing your stuff in advance, not throwing it in your suitcase the day
you are leaving.
Travel alarm clock -- nope, those wake up
calls don't always work, do they?
Colored luggage strap for your suitcase
(more on this below).
-- for the outside of your
luggage, in one of the outside pockets, and also one for inside your luggage.
It's a good idea to have your business address and phone number on your
luggage tags -- there is no need to advertise that you aren't at home.
If you are going on a cruise, pack some
extra clothes hangers. Cruise ships never seem to have enough of
Ziploc Bags -- A Traveler's Friends
Here's an inexpensive way to reduce the
hassle and problems on your trip. Buy a supply of one gallon and/or two
gallon Ziploc bags. Keep in mind that anything in a clear plastic bag is
much easier for security personnel to examine. You can also use them for
Double bag all of your toiletries.
You can eliminate drips, spills, squirts, squishes, and all of the other
little surprises of travel.
Organize smaller items by grouping them
together in a Ziploc bag.
Place dirty clothing/wet items inside
Ziploc bags and just toss them in your suitcase. You can also use
the bags to shrink your dirty/wet clothing for repacking (see above).
A "Virtual You"
Ever forgotten some important article of
clothing? Most people have. Here's how to avoid it.
Mentally dress yourself from head to toe in
different outfits, and write down each article of clothing you're planning to
wear. This is sort
of a mental checklist to be sure that all of the clothing you'll be wearing
winds up in your suitcase.
As you pack your suitcase, check off the items
you have written down.
You're Ready to Begin
Now you can put our packing tips to use. Start your packing one or two
days prior to leaving -- the night before at the latest. Lay out all of
your clothes and stuff and get ready to begin.
First, there are some things you should
not try to pack, including:
-- alcoholic beverages (flammable, can leak, may look suspicious)
-- food or liquids (may look suspicious)
-- fragile items -- no, you really can't make them safe
-- anything alive (!)
-- valuable items
-- anything flammable -- cigarette lighters, nail polish remover, etc.
-- knives, scissors
-- unlabelled prescription drugs -- leave them in the pharmacy container,
and if possible bring along a photocopy of your prescription
Now stand back and take a look at your
suitcase. Try to visualize how you carry it or push or pull it.
The bottom of the suitcase (that's the side closest to the ground) will be
where all of the heavy stuff will fall to.
Lay your suitcase down where it's
comfortable for you to pack. Keep in mind what you just figured out
above -- put all of your heavy stuff in what will be the bottom of the
suitcase when you are carrying it. This is probably different from
what you will read in other packing checklists, but it does make sense.
Now layer in the rest of your smaller
items, working up from the bottom.
Slide your toiletries into the middle of
the suitcase, where they have the most padding (just in case).
Finally, lay your larger clothing (pants,
jackets, coats) over the top of the pile of stuff you now have in your
suitcase. Fold pants over each other, fold coat sleeves and bodies,
The Final Touches
Before you close the lid, put your
personal identification on top of the pile of clothing, along with a copy
of your itinerary or airline schedule. If your outside tags are
torn off, the airlines will open your luggage to locate information that
helps them identify who owns your suitcase.
Close up your suitcase and zip it up.
Then, especially if you have a black roller-style suitcase like most of
the rest of the world, run your colored luggage strap around the outside
of the suitcase (inside the handle) and snug it down tightly. Now you
have a black suitcase with a red stripe, or a yellow stripe, etc.
It's much easier for you to identify as yours, and also much easier for
other travelers to identify as not being their bag. We can
spot our luggage from 50 feet away when we walk into a baggage claim
Secure the zippers on your bags with cable
ties (you can buy these in the electrical department of any home
improvement store, like Home Depot or Lowes). These have to be cut if someone wants to get in your luggage
-- no problem at all for government security, but an instant tip-off to
you that someone has been in your bag.
Don't use the cute little locks that came with your suitcases -- did you
know that all of the keys to each style of lock are the same? That's
not good security for your belongings. Cable ties are also very
useful for security if your hotel room is not ready at your destination,
and you have to store your luggage with the bellman.
How Much Does It Weigh?
Airlines have become very stringent on
overweight suitcases. You will want to weigh you luggage prior to
leaving home. There are two ways to do this. First, you can
weigh yourself, then weigh yourself while holding your suitcase, and
then subtract the two weights. The difference is the weight of your
suitcase. Another way is to balance your suitcase on your scale as
best you can while looking at the readout of the weight.
If your luggage is overweight, try this
tip: Take your heavy items and put them into a compact roller bag
that is small enough to carry onto the plane.
Stuff You Need to Include
A copy of your passport in your carry-on
luggage (i.e., not where you carry your passport).
Enough prescription drugs for an extra
week (two weeks if traveling internationally).
Health insurance card/contact phone number
for health insurance provider.