M c C l a t c h y - Tr i b u n e
Get everything in one suitcase. Get through security faster. Get there looking better.
BY KELLI RENFROW
The Dallas Morning News
acking. It’s the last hurdle between you and pulling out of the driveway. And doing it well is the difference between a clean getaway and a Chevy Chase vacation movie. These days, there’s a lot more to it than just not forgetting anything. Stronger airport security measures have caused us to rethink many aspects of traveling, especially packing. You must be prepared to unpack and repack before going to your gate. It’s a process we’re all seeking to simplify. Your best strategy might just be the perfectly packed bag. CHOOSE THE RIGHT BAG
THINK COLOR. Rob Cochrane, vice president and chief merchandise officer at Dallas-based Bag ’n Baggage, says his customers are looking for lightweight luggage in a variety of colors. Over the past three years, the company has seen its sales of black bags decline from 75 percent to around 56 percent. He says it’s mostly an expression of personality, but it also helps you spot your bag on the luggage carousel.
WITHOUT A WRINKLE. Rolling your clothes
is one of the most commonly suggested methods for avoiding wrinkles, though Chris Luce, a buyer for The Container Store, says the real key is keeping clothes from moving around. The Eagle Creek packing folders, each contain a folding board with a step-by-step diagram to help you fold shirts along natural creases. Amy Fletcher, a packing demonstrator for The Container Store, also suggests alternating collars and wrapping pants around shirts to avoid creasing. Or you can skip the folder and just place pants at the bottom of the bag, layer shirts over them, and fold the pants over the top.
■ TheTravelInsider.com offers practical pointers from its experts and readers, such as this: Pack a range of old clothing that you’re ready to throw away. Wear the items and then leave them behind.
AMTRAK.COM BAGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: Guidelines for carry-on baggage:
IN THE AIR
When deciding what to pack, you need to know the rules of airline travel. Here’s a primer: ■ When flying, your free baggage allowance is limited to two checked suitcases or items, one carry-on and one personal item. ■ Your carry-on is limited to 45 inches (length + width + height) and 40 pounds and must fit under your seat or in an overhead bin. ■ Some airlines will allow you to check extra bags for a fee. In addition, size and weight limits apply, with oversize bags also incurring fees, if the airline will accept them. It’s important to remember that the fees are for one-way travel and are paid upon check-in. You’ll have to pay on the way back, as well. Each airline has its own rules, but here’s an idea of baggage fees, based on American Airlines’ current listings at www.aa.com: ■ Fourth, fifth or sixth bag: $80 each ■ Seventh, eighth or ninth bag: $105 each ■ 10th and greater bag: $180 each ■ 50-70 pounds: $25 each ■ 70-100 pounds: $50 each ■ A bag between 63 and 115 inches: $80. If your baggage is overweight and oversize, the applicable overweight fee plus $80 per bag will be charged. ■ Checked bags more than 100 pounds or 115 inches will not be accepted. Check your airline’s Web site for specific baggage rules, as well as restricted articles. To confirm the most current fee information (other than using the Web site), a traveler should call the reservations department before his flight.
■ Each passenger may bring aboard no more than two pieces of carry-on baggage. Not included in this limit are personal items such as briefcases, purses, laptops and infant paraphernalia such as strollers, diaper bags and car seats. ■ Each carry-on bag may weigh no more than 50 pounds. ■ Each carry-on bag may not exceed 28 x 22 x 14 inches.
Guidelines for checked baggage:
DAV I D L E E S O N I I / M C T
LIGHTEN UP. Weight is a major concern because many airlines now charge a fee for luggage that exceeds certain limits. Cochrane says the challenge for manufacturers has been to develop materials that are durable but lighter, so that travelers can put more in their bags. A popular choice? Ballistic nylon. TRY EXPANDING. Another facet of your bag is expandability. While expandable luggage isn’t new, the trend is moving to zipperless expansion. Simply press a button inside your bag and watch it pop up, much like a pop-up camper.
TheTravel Insider.com advises packing a collapsible, lightweight tote bag in your main piece of luggage, so you have a way either to bring home your travel treasures or to make room for them in your suitcase. The Container Store suggests its nylon shopping bag, right, which folds into a carry pouch you can attach to a belt or backpack, $4.99.
PLASTIC MAKES PERFECT. TheTravel Insider.com suggests putting all of your loose personal items in a large zip-lock bag before passing through security, so that you can save time instead of emptying your pockets and then collecting everything again. Productivity expert David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” (Viking, $24.95), makes a similar suggestion for your personal electronic devices — put them in a clear plastic envelope to keep them all together, which also helps to prevent others from accidentally picking up what’s yours. NO MORE SPILLS. There are few things more unpleasant than having a bottle spill in your bag. Eagle Creek offers lined packing cubes for toiletries Take the next step and try putting liquid items in Nalgene leakproof bottles, right, from The Container Store, 49 cents to $2.24 each. Just don’t forget to label them. LOCK IT UP. If you don’t want to worry about leaving your luggage unlocked or having security officers break your lock in a random search, consider a TSA lock. You know the combination, while the Transportation Security Administration has a universal key to open it. Eagle Creek safe lock, left, is about $8.
■ Each ticketed passenger may check up to three pieces of luggage at no charge. Three additional pieces may be checked for $10 each. ■ Each checked bag may weigh no more than 50 pounds. Heavier pieces will not be accepted. ■ Each checked bag may not exceed 36 by 36 by 36 inches in size.
TIPS FROM A PRO
Pat Shannon has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles during 14 years as a flight attendant for American Eagle, and she strongly advises packing light for the sake of your back and your wallet. She gets all of her needs in one roll-on and one carry-on. “The thing to remember is that no one you know is going to see you,” Shannon says. ■ Plan to wear outfits more than once, so you don’t have to pack as many clothes. ■ Pack clothes made from lightweight fabrics, such as cotton, silk and linen. ■ Choose clothes in complementary colors that layer easily, so you are comfortable at any temperature. ■ Don’t pack your coat or jacket; wear it on the plane.
WHY USE PACKING ORGANIZERS?
There is lots of gear for organizing your bag, but the brand our experts like best is The Eagle Creek Pack-It line. It features packing cubes and folders, below, to keep clothes, shoes and other items separate and in place. The see-through sides on many of the products help you remember what’s inside, and retailers suggest that the pieces can make a security check smoother because they’re simple to take in and out of your bag. There are also different colors to choose from, allowing each person sharing a bag to have a color that easily identifies his things. For a complete list of Eagle Creek locations and a product guide, visit EagleCreek.com. Chris Luce, a buyer for The Container Store, says organizing your items protects them, as the move to soft-sided, lightweight luggage means less structure inside the bag. Flight 001 also offers an organizational packing system it calls SpacePak. A special feature of the SpacePak clothing units is that clean and dirty laundry can be kept on separate sides in the same unit. For more details, go to Flight001.com.
DAV I D L E E S O N I I / M C T
PACK IT RIGHT
PUT THE SQUEEZE ON IT. The compressor bag, above, has several uses. Place bulky items, like sweaters, inside and then roll the bag to release the excess air and save space. On the way home, put your dirty clothes in it to keep those from taking up as much room, as well. It can also be used for wet things, like swimsuits and towels from that last dip in the pool. SOCK IT TO ’EM. Pack your socks separately so they don’t get lost among your larger items. THE TO-DO ABOUT SHOES. OneBag.com suggests the use of a shoe bag to prevent shoes from damaging your other items. (Ours cost $12.99). Or choose luggage with shoe compartments (ours is a Tumi TTech, $450). The site also advises that you wear your bulkiest pair of shoes, if possible, rather than pack them. For the pairs you pack, turn the soles out and place the heels at opposite ends. You can use the space inside your shoes for fragile items.
BUSES AND TRAINS
GREYHOUND.COM BAGGAGE RESTRICTIONS:
■ Don’t want to forget anything, but too busy to make a list? Let someone else do it. Try The Universal Packing List Web site at upl.codeq.info. You’ll select the basic parameters of your trip, and the site will generate a packing list. ■ If you want to pack light, try the tips at
OneBag.com. The site shows you how to pack
everything you need in a carry-on.
■ Two bags may be checked for adults and one for children. Two carry-on bags are allowed per customer, and each must be able to fit underneath the seat or in the overhead compartment. ■ The maximum weight for checked bags is 50 pounds each. A charge of $20-$30 (depending on the distance traveled) will be charged for any bag over 50 pounds. ■ Your bag must not exceed 62 inches when adding the total exterior dimensions of the piece (length + width + height). A charge of $20-$30 (depending on the distance traveled) will be applied to any bag over 62 inches. ■ If bags exceed maximum size or weight, customers must ship the item via Greyhound PackageXpress.