37 per cent of holidaymakers admit to being disorganised packers (survey by UK post office).
Forethought, strategy, and sufficient time all contribute to better packing. Yet there is more to consider than just packing. Your choice of luggage, allowances, US travel, compensation, and more, are all dealt with below to give you the facts you need to help smarten up your baggage this summer.
Know Your Airlines’s Luggage Rules
KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Check with your airline the maximum dimensions, weight, and number of bags you are allowed to travel with.
WEIGH YOUR CASE. Always weigh your suitcase and cabin bag, and check dimensions are within airline limits, before leaving for the airport.
LIQUID RESTRICTIONS. Liquids, which includes gels, creams, and pastes stored in hand luggage must be in containers of no more than 100 ml and placed in a resealable clear plastic bag no larger than 20 cm x 20 cm. Storing a liquids bag in your suitcase when you arrive back home will leave it ready for your next trip.
Liquid restrictions do not apply past airport security, so you are free to buy larger quantities once you are airside.
Buy The Right Luggage
LUGGAGE GUARANTEE. The average life of a suitcase is approximately 10 years. Good quality suitcases usually come with a guarantee which protects against wheel, handle, and zip failure.
INVEST IN QUALITY. Investing in a good quality case is recommended. Unfortunately even good quality cases can get lost.
DESIGNER LUGGAGE. A designer case securing an upgrade is a myth.
LUGGAGE CHOICE. Choosing the right size suitcase is key. If the suitcase is too large it may be difficult to fit it inside a car boot. If it is too small, squashing in too much stuff and sitting on the lid is likely to damage it.
2 OR 4 WHEELS? Four wheels tend to make a suitcase - especially larger ones - easier to manoeuvre. Two wheels tend to be stronger as the wheels are usually inset and less vulnerable to being broken by heavy handed baggage handlers.
A HARD OR SOFT SHELL? A hard suitcase can add up to 5 kg in unusable weight but the shell does offer added protection from damage and moisture. Soft cases are lighter and will look less beaten up for longer.
MAKE YOUR CASE STAND OUT. The majority of suitcases on any luggage carousel will be black. A brightly coloured luggage strap or a piece of ribbon tied to handle will make a black case easier to identify.
How To Pack and Unpack A Suitcase
PACKING STRATEGY. Roll or fold? Wrap in tissue or vacuum pack? There are lots of methods to choose from but there is one guiding principle that works, and that is not to over-pack. Over-packing leads to squashed, creased clothes. Packing too loosely can ultimately lead to the same problem.
KEEP GIFTS IN HAND LUGGAGE. Avoid carrying wrapped gifts in checked luggage. If your case is open for inspection wrapping is likely to be removed.
STORE HEAVY ITEMS ABOVE WHEELS. Storing heavy items such as shoes just above the wheels prevents your suitcase from toppling over.
DEAL WITH CREASES. Creases can be reduced at your destination by hanging items in a steam-filled bathroom. When your clothing has become slightly damp, give them a few shakes and pull into shape.
TO TRAVEL IRON OR NOT? A travel iron may be a good investment as it can increase the number of times you can wear a garment that is not actually dirty.
20 Minutes of Really Helpful Videos on Packing For Travel
How To Pack Your Toiletries (3m 41s)
Sonia Gil provides expert advice on packing toiletries
How To Pack A Suitcase Efficiently (1m 28s)
Dave Hax offers quick tips geared for the business traveller but useful to all
Packing For Long Trips (3m 17s)
Sonia Gil again with advice for packing for long trips
How To Pack To Avoid Wrinkled Clothes (2m 39s)
Sonia Gil with varying methods for avoiding wrinkles
How To Pack A Suitcase (4m 30s)
Lesley Wilmot provides expert guidance on packing a suitcase
How To Pack Light (3m 38s)
Pilot Seamus Campbell gives his tips gained from 33 years of flying
Things Not To Pack For Airlines (2m 12s)
Carolyn Paddock reminds us what we cannot pack
How To Keep Your Suitcase Safe While Travelling
DON'T PACK VALUABLES. Airlines mislay millions of suitcases each year, which is reason enough not to pack anything you hold dear to you.
LUGGAGE LABELS. A second luggage label placed inside your suitcase with details of your flight and is destination is good practice as luggage tags are often separated from suitcases.
SPLIT BELONGINGS WITH A FRIEND. When more than one person is travelling together it may be useful to split belongings between checked luggage so that if one case goes missing each of you still has a change of clothes to hand.
CHECK IN EARLY. Avoid checking in late. Even if you make it on the flight your luggage may not.
USE A TSA LOCK. Unlocked luggage may invalidate your insurance. If your luggage doesn't have a lock, buying and using a TSA (Transport Security Administration) approved luggage lock is an inexpensive and wise move.
When travelling to or from the USA you should use a suitcase fitted with TSA approved locks. These are locks which the Transport Security Administration has tools to open. Equally you can use a TSA approved padlock or luggage strap.
For added security, a luggage collection and delivery service such as First Luggage (www.firstluggage.com) which delivers your suitcase via FedEx and offers tracking, is likely to reduce the risk of losing your suitcase. However a service like this will cost significantly more than checking in your suitcase.
Don’t Panic If Your Suitcase Is Lost
Approximately 85% of lost luggage is found within two days.
If your case has not shown on the carousel by the time it stops check the tag of any unclaimed suitcase which is similar to yours. Someone may have mistaken your luggage for their own.
COMPLETE A PIR REPORT. If your suitcase goes missing and even if you are told by the airline that is on the next flight you must still complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before leaving the airport.
GET COMPENSATED. Establish how much the airline will compensate you for immediate necessities. Some airlines will hand over cash, while others offer refunds for purchased goods, so keep that every receipt.
ONLY PURCHASE ESSENTIALS. Limit purchases to bare essentials. If your suitcase turns up you may not be able to claim the full compensation even if you have already spent the allowance.
CLAIM ASAP. If your suitcase is not found you need to claim for compensation in writing from your airline within one week, preferably as soon as possible.
The maximum you can hope to receive from your airline is the equivalent of around $300 as compensation is calculated on weight, not on the value of your clothes. You are likely to do better claiming on your travel insurance. Some insurance companies do not cover checked luggage so be sure to check the small print, and you are likely to still need to produce a PIR.
A comedic take on how not to pack a suitcase
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