It’s no secret that flying can be a stressful experience. From long security lines to screaming babies, there are plenty of things that can make your flight less than enjoyable. And one of the most stressful parts of flying is packing.
In the United States, around 250 million passengers fly through the air each year. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or this is your first time flying, packing for a flight can be a daunting task.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll give you our top tips for packing for a flight, so you can relax and enjoy your trip.
Packing Tips for Flying
Packing is one of the least favorite aspects of flying for many people. It can be difficult to know what to bring and how to pack it all up in a way that will make your flight more comfortable. There are a lot of factors to consider when packing for a flight, such as government restrictions and how to keep your belongings safe.
To make things simpler, we’ve organized the tips into three categories.
- General packing tips
- Tips for packing your carry-on bag/backpack/duffel bag
- Tips for packing your carry-on or checked luggage
General Packing Tips
These’ll be helpful regardless of what kind of bag you’re packing. You can use them for your carry-on, your checked luggage, or even a backpack.
Do Some Research
Before you start packing, it’s essential to do some research about your destination and the airline you’ll be flying with. This will help you figure out what kind of clothing and items you’ll need to pack.
If you’re expecting cold weather, for example, you’ll want to bring a jacket. Some airlines have restrictions on what you can bring on the plane, so it’s important to check that before you start packing.
Consider How Many Days You’re Traveling
This will help you figure out how much of everything you need to pack. If you’re only going away for a weekend, you won’t need to pack as much as if you’re going away for a week or more.
Make a Packing List
Once you know what you need to pack, make a packing list of everything you’ll need. This will help you keep track of everything and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Choose the Right Bag
The type of bag you choose will depend on a few factors, such as the airline you’re flying with and the length of your trip.
If you’re only going on a short trip, for example, you might be able to get away with only a carry-on bag. If you can, avoid checking your luggage. Not only will this save you money, but it’ll also make your trip a lot less stressful.
It’s always worth it to spend a little extra money on high-quality luggage so you won’t have to stress about its condition.
Don’t Pack What You’ll Buy
Unless you’re planning to bring back souvenirs, there’s no need to pack everything you think you’ll need. Chances are, you’ll be able to buy most of what you need when you arrive at your destination. This includes things like toiletries and snacks. Packing it light will make your trip a lot less stressful.
Consider Shipping Ahead
If you’re traveling with larger items or items that are difficult to pack, you might consider shipping them ahead.
This can be a great option if you’re worried about your luggage getting lost or damaged. These days, there are plenty of companies such as UPS and DHL that offer this service, so it’s easy to find one that fits your needs.
Bottles Will Leak When You Travel By Air
If you’re planning to bring any liquids with you on your flight, be aware that they might leak. To avoid this, put them in a sealable bag or container. You need to especially be careful with things like shampoo and conditioner, as they can make a mess if they leak.
There are a lot of items that you’re not allowed to bring on a plane, so it’s important to be aware of the restrictions before you start packing. Things like knives, pepper spray, and lighters are all prohibited.
Be Prepared to Pay Any Applicable Fees
This sounds obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. If you’re bringing checked bags or luggage, be aware that you might have to pay a fee. These fees vary depending on the airline, so make sure you check before you pack.
Invest in Travel Insurance to Protect Your Belongings
This is especially important if you’re planning to bring any valuables with you on your trip. Travel insurance will protect you in case your luggage is lost or stolen. These aren’t costly though and they could save you a lot of money in the long run. Companies like AXA Assistance USA or CAT 70 offer travel insurance to protect you from any unforeseen losses.
Pack Everything Up the Day Before Your Trip
If you can, try to pack everything up the day before your trip. This will help you avoid any last-minute stress and ensure that you don’t forget anything important.
Take Care of the Last-Minute Items
Once you’ve packed everything up, there are a few last-minute items you’ll need to take care of. Your laptop and phone chargers are a good place to start. You’ll also want to make sure you have your passport and boarding pass.
You now know the general tips for packing to fly, so it’s time for advice more particular to each bag or piece of luggage you’ll take with you.
Tips for Packing the Backpack or the Carry-Ons
This is the bag that will go under the seat in front of you on the plane. It should be small enough to fit in your carry-on luggage (we’ll talk about this later!) if you don’t want to carry it on your own.
Some ideas for what you could be added here:
Some of us can’t live without our gadgets, so it’s important to make sure they’re packed securely and within easy reach. If you’ll need to use your gadget throughout the flight, keep it in your carry-ons. Or else, they should be put in either the carry-on or checked bags or luggage.
Things to consider here:
- Charger cables
- Power bank
- USB cable with multiple charging connections
- Camera and lenses
Pack all of your chargers in small cases. These will keep them from getting lost and make it easy to find them when you need them. Your headphones should also be in a case so you can easily find them when you want to use them. There’re some other travel accessories that you can keep here. You may read our guide on the best travel accessories for long flights.
You will need your passport (along with a visa if traveling internationally) and boarding pass, of course. Keep these in your carry-on to make them accessible. Keep these in a pouch or wallet so you can easily find them when needed.
If you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring enough for the entire trip, plus a few extras in case of delays. You will also want to bring over-the-counter medications for things like headaches and motion sickness. Keep all of your medications in their original containers and a pouch so you can easily find them.
Credit Cards and Cash
Keep some cash in local currency as well as US dollars. You will need money for things like taxis, tips, and snacks. It’s also a good idea to have a backup credit card in case you lose your primary card or it is stolen. You may use a mint tin to keep your cash and cards organized.
Only bring the essentials in your carry-on bags for in-flight use. Leave the full-size shampoo and conditioner for your checked bag or luggage. Bring along items that you will need during the flight, such as a lip balm, eye mask, etc.
Bringing an empty water bottle that you can fill up after going through security will save you money and reduce plastic waste. You may read our detailed guide on the best travel water bottles.
Tips for Packing Your Carry-On Luggage Or Checked Luggage
As the packing tips for both carry-on and checked luggage are largely the same, we will touch on both topics here. There are many specific government rules on Dos and Don’ts for these, so be sure to read through them.
The carry-on luggage is the one that you will be able to bring into the cabin with you. It should be small enough to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.
The checked luggage is the bag that you will need to check at the airport. It can be a bit larger, but make sure it meets the size requirements for your airline.
If your carry-on luggage doesn’t fit everything you need for the trip, only then do we recommend coming with checked luggage.
General Tips for Packing Luggage
Here are some basic tips to bear in mind:
1. Use Label Tags
Label your bags on the outside and inside with your name, address, and phone number. This will help the airline return your bag to you if it gets lost.
2. Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are a great way to keep your clothes organized and wrinkle-free. They also help maximize space in your luggage.
3. Don’t Pack Valuables in Your Checked Luggage
Keep all valuables, such as jewelry and electronics, in your carry-on bag. This way, if your checked luggage is lost, you won’t have to worry about your valuables being gone too.
4. Take a Few Extra Plastic Bags
These are handy for wet clothes or other things.
5. Weigh Your Suitcases
Before heading to the airport, ensure your suitcases are not overweight. Airlines have strict weight limits, and if your bag is over the limit, you will have to pay a fee.
Specific Tips for Packing Luggage
Now that you know the basics of packing your luggage, let’s get into some nitty-gritty details.
Keep copies of your important documents in both your carry-on and checked luggage. This includes your passport, boarding pass, and travel insurance information. It helps to have a backup in case one bag gets lost.
Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can help save space. Make the best use of packing cubes to organize your clothes and make sure they don’t get wrinkled.
A good strategy is to fold pants and t-shirts together, and then roll them up tightly. You may also keep your other essentials like socks and underclothes in here. Pack a lightweight, water-resistant jacket if you’re bringing one (fold the bottom over 4-5 inch/1-12 cm).
Packing clothes that are fashionable and can be worn in different ways will also help reduce the number of clothes you need to bring.
Wear your heaviest shoes on the plane to save space in your luggage. You can also use them to store other items like socks and underclothes.
If you’re worried about them getting dirty, put them in a clear plastic bag or travel laundry bag. While packing your shoes, put them heel to toe and keep them at the bottom of the suitcase. Picking shoes with low heels will not only save you space, but also weight.
You are only allowed to bring a limited amount of liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on luggage. These items must be placed in a quart-sized baggie and each item must be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. One bag per passenger is allowed. This is called the 3-1-1 liquid rule.
You can bring larger sizes of these items in your checked luggage, but we recommend packing them in your carry-on if possible to avoid having them spill or leak during the flight. Leave the big bottles at home as well. Instead, use small jars or contact lens cases.
It’s important to keep your electronics safe when you’re traveling. Place them here if you don’t want to carry them in your carry-on bag. Be sure to pack them securely so they don’t get damaged in transit. We recommend using a good travel gadget organizer for electronics.
First Aid Kit
In addition to the medications you’ll have in your carry-on bag, you can include additional items like bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and a thermometer.
Invest in TSA-approved locks
If you’re worried about your luggage being tampered with, invest in TSA-approved locks. TSA agents can open these locks without breaking them, so you don’t have to worry about your luggage being damaged.
Packing for a flight can be a daunting task, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to have a smooth trip. Always remember to keep your important documents in both your carry-on and checked luggage, and pack clothes that can be worn in multiple ways.
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about packing for a flight.
1. What should I pack in my suitcase first?
The best way to pack a suitcase is to start with the heaviest items first. This will help prevent your luggage from becoming unbalanced and make it easier to carry. Start by placing your shoes at the bottom of the suitcase, followed by clothes, toiletries, and electronics.
2. Can I bring food on a plane?
Yes, you can bring food on a plane. However, there are some restrictions on what types of food you can bring. You are allowed to bring solid foods like fruits and vegetables, as well as sandwiches and wraps. However, you are not allowed to bring liquids or gels, including soup, coffee, or juice.
3. Can I bring a pillow on a plane?
Yes, you can bring a pillow on a plane. However, it must be small enough to fit in your luggage. You may also want to consider packing an inflatable travel pillow, which can be easily packed and will save you space in your luggage. Consider reading our guide on the best neck pillow for long flights.
4. What do I do if my luggage is too heavy?
If your luggage is too heavy, you may be charged an overweight fee by the airline. To avoid this fee, try to pack light. You can do this by taking just the lighter items or removing some items from your suitcase. You may also want to consider investing in a luggage scale, which will help you ensure that your luggage is not over the weight limit.