Do You Have a Packing Problem?

Have you ever paid an excess baggage fee, left your passport at home or cleaned up a messy shampoo spill in your suitcase? If you’ve encountered any of these packing crises, chances are your suitcase-stuffing strategy could use a little work!

Warning Sign No. 1: A Wrinkled Wardrobe.

Stick to wrinkle-free clothing rather than ordinary cottons and linens, which are prone to creases. Before your trip, lay your clothes out ahead of time to make sure you have everything you need — but don’t actually put them into your bag until shortly before you’re ready to depart. That way you’ll minimize the time they spend scrunched up in your suitcase. On the other end of your trip, be sure to hang up your clothes as soon as you arrive in your hotel.

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Warning Sign No. 2: Damaged Goods.

It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: Never put breakable items into your checked luggage. Instead, wrap the items carefully in newspaper, bubble wrap and/or clothing and stow them in your carry-on bag. Smaller items can be slipped inside a shoe and cushioned with a balled-up pair of socks.

If you’re buying a fragile item that’s too big to fit into your carry-on, have the merchant ship it home for you. Stores that frequently handle tourist purchases are pros at packing their goods for shipping — and you’ll often be able to insure your item and receive compensation if it’s damaged en route.

Warning Sign No. 3: Too Much Baggage.

Start at the source: your suitcase. If you often find yourself edging toward your airline’s weight limits, it may be worth purchasing a lightweight bag to give you a few extra pounds to work with. Do your homework to prevent packing unnecessary items. If the weather forecast calls for nothing but sunshine, leave the umbrella at home. Pack clothes that can do double duty — like black shoes that are comfortable enough for sightseeing but dressy enough for dinner, or a shirt that can be worn twice with different accessories.

Warning Sign No. 4: Pre-Trip Panic.

Don’t wait to start packing until the day — or the hour! — before your trip. Instead, begin making a list of items you think you’ll need about a week prior to departure. Starting early will give you time to go shopping for any items you may be missing. Mentally walk through your trip itinerary, putting aside each day’s outfit and identifying any accessories or equipment you’ll need for the day’s activities. As each item goes into your suitcase, check it off your list.

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