My dad is a retired commercial airline pilot. The great benefit of this was that we, as a family, got to travel quite a bit more than the average American family. The downside – flying ‘Space Available’, as in, only if there were 4 empty seats for us did we get on the flight.
The result of growing up flying nothing but Space Available is that you never have the luxury of checking baggage. My sister and I were raised with the golden rule of ‘If you want to take it, you’d better be able to carry it!’
There is nothing like the combination of having a pilot dad and only being able to take what you could carry that trains you into a lean, mean packing machine. If you doubt, ask me about living in France for 6 weeks out of only 2 carry-ons.
Having given you that background, here are a few hard-and-fast guidelines I’ve used over the years. Let’s fly!
- Choose a color palette for your outfits, so that all of the clothing you pack can be mixed and matched.
- Choose a comfortable but presentable ‘flying outfit’ and wear it for both your departure flight AND your return flight. (And a gentle reminder, here: The world is not our pajama party. ‘Nuf said?)
- Yes, we’re allowed to take 3 ounce bottles of liquids and gels. But 3 ounces is a lot more than it sounds like – 3 ounces of hair serum would last you months. See if you can pare down to 1oz and 2oz bottles. If you’re staying more than a week or two, buy liquids once you arrive.
- If you have a front zippered compartment on your luggage, this is a great place for your quart-sized bag of liquids, your boarding pass, and a scarf/wrap. Airports and planes are notoriously cold. This also allows easy access of these items, which speeds you through security.
- Use every inch of space in your bag. Stuff socks, underwear, and rolled belts in packed shoes.
- If you travel fairly often, it might be worthwhile to buy smaller versions of your hairdryer, flat iron, or curling iron. Or if you’re visiting family or friends, see if you can use theirs!
- Though trendy, the ‘train case’ style of cosmetics bag is one of the bulkiest. Try one of the roll-up bags that hang from a towel rod.
Do you have any packing tips and tricks you’ve discovered? I’d love to hear from you – feel free to share in the comments!