With cheaper flights and budget airlines, people are flying everywhere. So packing a suitcase is a necessary chore but can be done effectively. These are tips that I've amassed through experience. Of course if you're not flying to where you're going, it's still useful to pack as if you are to minimise space and hassle (especially if you have to travel on subways or buses).
Step 1: Choosing the luggage
I'm writing this from a UK-centric standpoint as that's what I have most experience with. This Ible will deal with flying on a plane with one piece of hold luggage / checked luggage / stuff that goes under the plane. There'll also be an additional bit for the ever tricky hand luggage.
I'm using this small hard-shell suitcase in this instance because I'm only going away for a few days. Although if you're going away for longer, take a big case. If you're flying budget airlines (in Europe these are easyJet, BMI Baby, RyanAir etc.) then there is a limit of approximately 20kg per bag. Once you've chosen your preferred bag, move onto the next stage.
Step 2: Making a list
- Definitely need - clothes, towel, toiletries, electricals
- Would be nice to bring - entertainment things, books,
- Don't really need, but if there's space - the tool kit, the XBox
You can never take everything you think you might want on holiday with you, so prioritising your stuff allows you to pack according to necessity. When your bag gets full (and it will) at least you've packed the stuff that you definitely need.
Step 3: The essentials
Figure 2 shows my spare shoes that I'm taking with me. Spare shoes are always handy, so to make the most efficient use of space, I'm packing my smallest / most squishable shoes and will wear my bigger, not so squishable shoes. I put the shoes in a plastic bag to stop them making any mess. I generally pack the shoes top and tail to take up less room. Alternatively pack each shoe apart wherever they fit best.
An important tip with travelling and packing is to not forget that you are also taking what you're wearing with you. So wear the bigger or bulkier items whilst travelling to save space since there isn't a limit on how heavy you are when you get on the plane.
Step 4: The toiletries
As a result of potential mess, I always pack my toothbrush in another plastic bag separately. Not much is worse than discovering your toothbrush tastes of Head & Shoulders; that stuff just keeps foaming. Despite using an electric toothbrush at home, I travel with a regular toothbrush since they take up less space in size and charger. Also prevents any "accidental" vibrations from your bag.
Step 5: The valuables
The other important things that you can't carry on you like chargers, transfer cables, or anything that might be breakable can go in the middle of the case for protection, which is more possible with soft shell cases. Also remember that you can't take things like nail files or anything potentially dangerous in the cabin so pack them in the case too.
And I always pack a few plastic bags as well since they're useful for container and separating things.
Step 6: Let packing commence
Around all the stuff that isn't squishable, I put the things that are i.e. my clothes. When you have lots of things that won't squish, it is generally better to carefully roll your clothes and tuck them into spaces. If you're just packing clothes, then you don't need to roll. I leave things like underwear and socks till last as they don't mind being scrunched into the small spaces wherever fits. Also, this case opens in the middle so you can pack quite a bit more above the line which will squash down.
And there you go, packed! Don't forget those stretchy straps over the top as they help reduce proper luggage explosions if your bag accidentally opens.
Step 7: Finishing touches
Then lock it up and hold onto the key, or muddle the combination lock. Always change the combination from the factory preset if possible. The instructions should come with the case. Normally it's input the correct code, then push a toggle whilst putting the new code in.
As a final check, put the bags on the bathroom scales to make sure they don't exceed the weight limits set by the airline.
Step 8: Hand luggage
For this reason, I like to use soft holdalls or backpacks as hand luggage which can be mushed around to fit through the hole in the X-ray machine. If it doesn't fit through that hole, it can't go on the plane. I also take those drawstring bags too to carry things around during the day and they fold up nice and small.
If you're only travelling with hand luggage, the EU has restrictions on liquids that are taken onto the plane and only allow liquids in containers less than 100ml in volume. This applies to ALL liquids, shampoo, toothpaste, contact lens fluid. Fortunately they make small bottles for just this purpose in stores such as Superdrug, generally the more popular brands. These must be placed in a clear plastic bag and presented separately to your hand luggage. The European airports I have been through offer regulation bags to put your liquids in if you don't have one.
Step 9: Final tips
Another potential saver if you're travelling with just hand luggage, especially on budget airlines, is to think of what you can buy instead of pack for extra room. Most budget airlines will charge for checked baggage at around £10 each way per bag. So it helps to do the math if buying something is cheaper than having to check a bag. For example, I can save loads of room if I buy a sleeping bag instead of packing one since I can find one for less than £20. Of course you can take alot more if you are checking luggage, but more isn't always better.
Don't forget your passport! Travel safe!