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Seven Days and One Carry-on Bag

Why Carry-on?

Most major airlines charge a minimum of $20 each way for just one checked bag. Add to this the time wasted at the luggage carousel, and the possibility that checked luggage may be delayed, damaged or lost, and it's clear why so many seasoned travelers choose to carry-on.

Smart Packing

Start with your suitcase. Older bags (even soft-sided luggage) can weigh 15 pounds or more empty. Newer, lightweight luggage often comes in at less than half the weight of older bags without sacrificing durability or giving up the convenience of wheels and telescoping handles.

Begin packing a few days early, laying out all of the clothing you think you might need. Then spend a day or two removing items that aren't strictly necessary, are too heavy or bulky, or don't match the rest of your travel wardrobe.

To avoid wrinkles and airport security delays, pack in easily inspected modules. Mesh cubes, mesh pockets, and packing folders keep your clothing organized, neatly folded, and compacted, and can be lifted out individually during inspection without disturbing your careful packing.

Use a packing compressor bag for soiled clothing. The compressor keeps damp and dirties extra-compact, and separated from clean clothing. Since the compressor is transparent, your soiled clothing can be inspected without the need to open the bag and "air your dirty laundry".

Pack your liquid and gel toiletries in three ounce bottles to comply with the TSA rules, and place them in an outer pocket for easy access when you go through security. Remember, your liquids and gels must fit in a one quart transparent zip top bag.

How to Get the Most out of Your Travel Wardrobe

Plan for and pack clothes that meet the needs of your itinerary, are appropriate for the culture and climate of your destination, and allow the most outfits from the least number of pieces. Here are some easy ways to lighten your load.

  • Plan around a basic color. Choose a neutral solid color like black, navy, gray, brown or khaki for your main wardrobe pieces. Matching striped or print shirts, a scarf or a pin can add a little color without sacrificing valuable space.
  • Plan to wear each item several times during the trip. Choose clothing that is easy to care for -- wrinkle resistant, hand washable, and quick drying. Take a compact laundry kit along to wash as you go.
  • Take more tops than bottoms. Every top should go with every bottom. Tops are lighter and take less room than bottoms, and are easier to launder.
  • Choose lightweight knits, microfibers, cotton and silk over bulky sweaters, heavy denim and corduroy. For colder climates, pack silk long underwear that keeps you warm, packs small, and doubles as pajamas.
  • Wear your jacket or coat and heavier shoes to the airport (worn clothing is never weighed). While you are at it, stuff the coat pockets, too. Many travelers choose multi-pocket jackets or travel vests, in effect wearing an extra carry-on.
  • Pack for comfort. Chances are good that you will be sleeping in your clothing on the plane. Choose clothing made of stretchy fabrics, expandable waistbands, and non-binding collars and cuffs. Make sure these fabrics resist stains and wrinkles to avoid the slept-in look.

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