Every Joe and Jennie who has boarded at least one flight in their lifetime will (without being asked) try to force their so-called expert packing tips on you. But just because Aunt Agatha went all the way from Los Angeles to Hawaii back in the 80s, it doesn’t mean that she has any idea about smart, space-saving and efficient packing methods (even though she thinks she does).
If there’s one group of people that we actually trust when it comes to any travel-related advice, it’s flight attendants. So, what do the world’s cabin crew, who spend their lives packing, flying and unpacking, recommend when it comes to making up a travel bag?
8 Make sure items needed on the flight are easily accessible
There’s nothing more annoying than having some random passenger accidentally wake you up on a long-haul flight after loudly and violently searching through their large overhead bags for something as small as a toothbrush.
As simple as this packing tip is, so many people time and time again lack the common sense to implement it. If you plan on using your phone, chewing some gum, reading your book and brushing your teeth mid-flight, then please, for the greater good of the plane, keep those items in a small bag under the seat in front of you.
Flight attendants find this particularly irritating because passengers often ‘need’ the items stored overhead while the seatbelt sign is on.
7 Pack some painkillers and cold medicine
When you’re breathing in the same dry, recycled air as an actual planeful of other people (some of which can’t stop coughing - there’s always one), the chance of catching a cold is unfortunately high. Similarly, with loud noises, crying babies, bright screens, and dehydration, getting a headache comes as a possibility too.
Flight attendant MyKayla Hilgart puts it this way: “I won’t sugarcoat it: planes are pretty nasty...That nastiness combined with being packed next to 100+ other humans in a metal tube can easily compromise your otherwise rock-star immune system…”
They don’t take up much room, so some handy pills are hardly a difficult investment.
6 If you’re going to a hotel, don't pack cosmetics.
As long as you haven’t opted for a bottom-of-the-ladder hostel whose version of a toilet is a ‘compost-friendly’ hole in the ground, any half-decent accommodation will provide the basics when it comes to bathroom products. Those cutesie bottles of shampoo and body wash aren’t just there for decoration, they’re for the use of guests!
While we might have a thorough shower routine at home, it’s time to sacrifice it for the greater good of our suitcase weight. By simply leaving behind the hefty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face scrub, we could be making the difference between traveling light with only a carry-on and unnecessarily lugging around an extra, heavy suitcase.
5 Divide your luggage into segments
Plenty of flight attendants recommend dividing up our luggage into sections. By casing each group of items (such as beachwear as one group, or exercise gear as another group), not only are we putting more thought into what we need (and therefore what we don’t need), but we’re also making it much easier for us while on vacation.
There’s nothing worse than scrounging through an entire suitcase to find a pair of socks, only to need to repack everything after. So, if we’re aware of exactly where everything is within our luggage, we’ll save ourselves time and effort in the long run.
4 Prepare for the modern world
In this ultra-modern era where we can’t function without our smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras, e-readers, portable batteries and smartwatches, having access to power every day is crucial.
To make sure all our devices stay charged as much as possible, flight attendants have two particular recommendations: a power bank and an extension cable. The power bank, simply, is to charge our devices when we’re out and about, or beyond the range of electricity (e.g. camping). On the other hand, the extension cable comes very much in handy at accommodations (particularly shared rooms and hostels), where the power outlet might be unreachable from your bed or area.
3 Bring a pen!
A pen is needed on almost every international flight, but it’s equally as crucial as it is commonly forgotten. Plenty of countries still rely on pen and paper for customs documentation and landing forms, and flight attendants (and the passenger next to you who was clever enough to pack not only one but TWO pens) are fed up with having to supply one for the forgetful.
Flight attendants also know that despite our reliance on technology, it can sometimes fail us, and the old-school pen and paper method is a necessary backup for anything from writing down addresses to keeping track of flight numbers.
2 Flip flops are the most important footwear
While bringing four of five pairs of shoes on a quick trip might be overkill, it’s never a bad idea to add a pair of flip flops. A major airline flight attendant stated that, no matter the weather at her destination or where she is staying, she always brings a trusty pair of flip flops in her luggage. (via HuffPost)
Not only do they take up minimal space throughout our luggage, but they are also useful for a number of different situations. From a trip to the beach to a shower in the hotel room (because c’mon, think of how many people have used it before you), flip flops always come in handy.
1 Take advantage of the inside of shoes
Like it or not, we can’t travel anywhere without shoes. Not only is it socially unacceptable (especially to be barefoot on planes), but it’s pretty dangerous too. Assuming that we’re taking a spare pair of shoes in our luggage, we can save a few crucial inches by loading the interior up with other items.
The important thing to note here is that the shoes are clean, because we wouldn’t want our snazzy tees smelling like a bout of athlete's foot, of course. There’s no harm in wrapping the clothes in a plastic bag before inserting them into the shoes either, since those plastic bags can be used later on to keep smelly, dirty laundry separate.