With careful packing, it’s often possible to avoid having to check luggage. (Photo: luggages image by MLProject from Fotolia.com )
Long lines for check-in and security, checked baggage fees and cramped seating are among the realities of air travel for many passengers. Much of the aggravation associated with air travel is unavoidable. However, with proper packing, it is possible to reduce or eliminate baggage fees and ensure that your luggage arrives along with you at your destination and upon your return.
Getting Through Security
Many air passengers are familiar with what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) calls the “3-1-1 Rule” concerning liquids in carry-on luggage: containers of 3 oz. or less should be contained in a 1-quart clear zip-top plastic bag, with a single plastic bag per passenger. Pack liquids in carry-on baggage in an easily accessible location to make it easy to remove them for inspection. Be prepared to remove your laptop from its bag for screening. [Laptop sleeves](https://society6.com/laptop-sleeves?utm_source=SFGHG&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=1256), “butterfly” or tri-fold styles that allow the laptop to lie flat on the conveyor belt are most likely to allow the screening device to take a clear picture of the internal components of the laptop, which means the laptop need not be removed from the bag for screening. Ask for manual inspection of undeveloped film to avoid possible damage from X-ray exposure. TSA also reserves the right to conduct random searches of carry-on luggage. Pack underwear and lingerie in mesh bags to avoid having them touched in case your bag is selected for inspection.
Wardrobe and Packing Tips
When packing for air travel, less is more. Coordinate your travel wardrobe with mix-and-match pieces in neutral colors that can be dressed up or down. Be prepared to rinse out clothing or do a load of laundry during longer trips. Wear your heaviest shoes and overcoat onto the plane if possible. Place packed shoes in a plastic bag near the bottom of the bag that you plan to carry by hand or near the wheels of a rolling bag. Roll clothing rather than fold it to avoid packing creases. Do not overpack, which tends to smash clothing, or underpack, which allows clothing to shift inside the bag, the Magellan’s website recommends. Rick Steves, whose public television shows and published books focus on travel in and around Europe, recommends taking a single carry-on bag for every trip, regardless of duration. Rather than attempting to pack enough toiletries for the entire trip, Steves recommends travelers to include enough only for the beginning of the trip; count on purchasing replacements. However, if your itinerary includes travel to less developed countries, this advice may not apply, especially concerning tampons and sanitary pads.
Minimizing Luggage Fees and Loss
Place a label or card that states your name and contact information inside each checked bag to make it possible to identify your bag if the luggage tag becomes detached, Steves advises. Use an email address or a post office if you have safety concerns. If you elect to lock your checked baggage, use only TSA-approved locks. For domestic trips, the cost of package shipping services such as UPS, FedEx or DHL can be comparable to checked baggage fees; this may be an alternative for you with advance planning. Specialty baggage shipping services can handle international travel plans, including any customs issues. Specialty baggage shipping services also guarantee on-time delivery of your luggage. Shipping baggage offers several advantages over checking it. Your baggage is insured against loss or damage for the full value of its contents, which is not the case with checked baggage. By arriving at your destination airport baggage-free, you save the wait at the baggage claim. In many areas, you also have the option of taking less expensive public transportation from the airport to your hotel, which may help offset the cost of shipping your bags. If you choose this option, inform your hotel ahead of time, the SeatGuru website advises.
Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
About the Author
Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years’ experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.
- luggages image by MLProject from Fotolia.com