Monday, February 11, 2013

Packing Tips: Part 2, Air Travel & One Personal Item

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  Checked bag fees are inspiring a lot of us to become inventive with how we pack our carry-ons in order to avoid those extra fees.

Some creative solutions include wearing multiple layers of clothing or donning outfits with multiple pockets.  Some people tempt fate and simply overstep the size limitations regarding carry-on luggage.

What few travelers stop to consider are the possibilities of that one personal item allowed in addition to a carry-on bag.  The guidelines for that item are rather loosely defined.  The United Airlines policy states, “In addition to one carry-on item, you may bring one personal item such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or an item of similar size.”  The rules also state that coats, reading material, cameras and things purchased in the airport (in limited amounts) can be carried on board in addition to that personal item.

Don’t overlook just how much stuff you can pack in that often overlooked but precious extra bag.  Carrying a large purse or tote might make the difference between being able to travel strictly carry-on vs. having to check a bag and pay for the privilege.

I normally carry a fairly small purse.  However, when I board a plane, I take a large purse in addition to my carry-on bag.  I put things that I might want during the flight into my big purse and make sure that it is small enough to slide underneath the seat in front of me. 

Here’s what goes into that bag:
  • A small purse.  On board the plane, I use it as a billfold for my credit cards and cash.  Once I reach my destination, it becomes my daily purse while the large purse stays stashed with my luggage.
  • The TSA dictated Ziplock bag with my cosmetics
  • My electronics (Kindle, phone, camera, etc.) and charging cords
  • A small brush & a comb
  • Gum, mints, snacks
  • Reading glasses
  • Tissues
  • Travel umbrella.  (Caveat – Pull your umbrella out and put it in plain sight when you go through security.  I once got pulled aside for an extra search due to an umbrella in my bag resembling a club.)
  • Baby wipes to clean your seat tray and armrests.  The airlines rarely clean those things between flights. 
  • Pashmina.  Pashminas can keep you warm on a cold flight, serve as a headscarf should you need to walk out on the tarmac or cover up any drink stains that you might pick up during the flight.

This strategy frees up a lot of room in my suitcase allowing me to travel strictly carry-on and avoid checked bag fees.  It also makes it easier to access the things I might need on a long flight

Visit this site again in a few days and I’ll share a few tips for making the most of your little Ziplock bag.

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