Avoid travel frustrations. 3 essential bags you need, and exactly how to pack them.

Packing for a trip can be a nightmare. It’s not easy, especially when you are trying to pack everything from your favourite dancing shoes and swimsuits, to toiletries, a laptop and medications. Knowing what types of bags you will need, and what to place in each one, that will help take the frustration out of your […]

Life + Leisure Travel and Getaways Brian Webb

This article was published on April 5th, 2015

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Packing for a trip can be a nightmare. It’s not easy, especially when you are trying to pack everything from your favourite dancing shoes and swimsuits, to toiletries, a laptop and medications. Knowing what types of bags you will need, and what to place in each one, that will help take the frustration out of your future travels.

Far too many people show up at the airport and get frustrated or annoyed because their bags weigh too much and they have to pay an excess baggage fee, or as they go through security they are forced to throw away a $50 bottle of salon shampoo because it’s 750ml and the max size allowed is 3oz.

Below are three essential bag types that every traveler needs to have, and exactly what items should be packed into each one. Following these instructions will save you significant time and avoid frustration on your next trip.

Personal carry-on item

This is the most important bag you are going to pack and take with you. For women, this is typically your purse, and for men, this is a laptop bag, briefcase or backpack. Your personal carry-on item should only include your most valuable items including medication, electronics (laptop, iPad, digital camera, etc.), along with all your jewelry.

Carry-on roller bag

This is the second most important bag to pack. It needs to include all the important items you will need for the first 24-hours of your trip, including a change of clothing.

You can take liquids, creams and gels with you in your carry on luggage, as long as each container is under 3oz in size, and all the containers are placed into a zip-lock bag. Any containers over 3oz in size will have to be discarded. There are exceptions to the rule. For example, if you wear contact lenses, you can bring a full bottle of contact lens solution, of any size, with you in your carry-on. The same goes for prescription medications. They are exempt as long as they are prescriptions with proper labels.

If you are boarded on a smaller aircraft without a lot of overhead compartment space, you may be required to check your bag at the gate. This means that the bag you thought you would be taking with you on the aircraft will now be put into the cargo hold and you will have to pick it up at the luggage carousel. This is why you should choose a roller-bag that is durable and should not contain essential items that you will need in-flight, any electronics, or valuables.

Checked (upright) baggage

Your checked bag should include all non-essential items, including clothing, shoes, gym clothing, swimwear, and toiletries over 3oz. Put bigger and bulkier items in this bag, including sweaters, jackets, and souvenirs.

On direct flights your luggage is almost guaranteed to arrive at your destination; however, if you’re on a connecting flight and there is a very short turn-around window, there is a slim chance that your checked-bag may not arrive with you. If you’re important medication is in your checked bag and not in your personal carry on item, you could be in a lot of trouble. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re luggage doesn’t make it, most airlines have a small per diem that they offer to replace clothing, but chances are you’d rather be at your meeting or enjoying your vacation, not running to the mall to find an outfit for the night.

Do you have advice on packing that can help others avoid travel frustrations? Leave your tips and advice in the comments section below.

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