Hints and Tips

Packing

General

Packing is difficult and, with today’s restrictions on items in carry-on bags, it has become much more difficult.

The best way is to make a list of everything you might conceivably need. Then go through that list and decide what is essential – be ruthless here. Now decide what’s going in the hold and what’s going in the carry-on bag. Remember no sharps or liquids in the carry-on bag. If you must put liquids in your hand luggage use an approved set of bottles.

Buy light-weight but strong bags as these allow you to carry more and are easier to carry. Remember, wheels add weight – your choice. Check that the bags are the right size – especially the carry-on bags. Take a tape measure and a list of the sizes for the airline with you when you go to buy the bags.

Once you’ve packed everything weigh the bags to check that you’re within the weight limits for the airline. If you’re over the limit, remove more non-essential items. Remember you can usually buy all the big-brand toiletries where you’re going, so why pack them?

Wear your heaviest clothing to travel in, such as trousers, a heavy shirt, jacket or even a coat if it’s going to be cold where you’re going or when you return. These items are also useful to keep you warm on cooler evenings.

Think about the types of clothing and accessories that you’ll require.

How to Pack

Packing properly is an art.

There are many, sometimes conflicting, types of advice on packing a suitcase. But which is best? We asked John, who has travelled more than 3,000,000 km as an airline passenger, for his tips.

The criteria he uses are: the best use of space, trying to avoid creases, minimising stains, spills and leakages, protecting electronics and avoiding “smells”.

Prior to the trip, make a list of the essential items you need to take. Assemble all the items in one place over a number of days. Clean where necessary. Verify then pack the day before and check the weights. Don’t leave things to the last minute – you’ll forget something, usually important.

Designer luggage is designed for luxury travel and executive jets, it isn’t up to the job of withstanding normal air travel. Use a hard sided, clamshell style suitcase with wheels. Luggage with wheels tends to be stronger but heavier. Don’t make your suitcase too heavy. If a suitcase is too heavy, the handles will break easily.

Carefully fold your “tops” and “bottoms” then roll them up. This helps to minimise creases and uses the least amount of space. Try to keep whites away from colours, where possible, to avoid stains. Use a “drawer freshener” or pot-pourri to reduce odours.

Place items in “empty space”: Put socks and underwear in your shoes. If your shoes aren’t new, you may want to put the items in a plastic bag prior to placing them in your shoes to avoid smells and bacteria.

Place shoes inside a soft cloth bag (best, as it also can be used to shine the shoes), plastic bags or put hotel, disposable shower caps over the soles.

Put heavy items like shoes and toiletries at the bottom of the bag (shoes first) and lighter items at the top. This makes the bag easier to carry, more likely to land on it’s base\wheels and more stable. Luggage is routinely thrown and dropped by baggage handlers and has been known to fall off baggage carts.

Put electronic equipment in the centre of the bag with clothing under, over and around it to help protect it. It’s a good idea to get some bubble wrap bags and put electronic equipment in those to protect it. Put a small sheet of thin bubble wrap (bubble side down) between the screen and keyboard on laptops.

Always check electrical equipment requirements before you go. Remember that the voltages and plugs are different in different countries. Take at least one Worldwide Travel Adaptor. Phone, tablet and laptop chargers are usually multi-voltage but may require a different plug. Other items like hair-dryers, hair tongs etc. aren’t multi-voltage and will be damaged if connected to the wrong voltage supply.

It’s extremely rare that you’ll need towels, so don’t pack them, If you need a towel use a Microfibre Towel

Liquids:

  • Never put any liquids in your hand luggage. It’s just not worth the hassle. Buy water in the departure lounge or on the plane.
  • Buy toiletries where you’re going. Every country has the big name brands.
  • For liquids you have to carry: open the top and put clingfilm over the opening, put the top back on securely, then seal the top with some tape. Place the containers in a ZipLock bag.
  • If necessary, place the ZipLock bags containing liquids in a small, light-weight, Tupperware container. Use the smallest size Tupperware container that will hold all the ZipLock bags tightly.

ZipLock bags are your friend. Even the very cheap ones for storing food. It’s best to use a number of different sizes. Remember to squeeze all the air out before sealing them.

  • Put your toiletries in ZipLock bags.
  • Put electronic equipment in ZipLock bags to help protect it from spillages.
  • Put chargers, cables, etc. in ZipLock bags to protect them and for easy identification.
  • Put rolled-up, clean clothes in ZipLock bags to protect them from insects, spillages, humidity etc.
  • Carry a few empty ZipLock bags to store your dirty or damp clothes or items in.

Your hand luggage should only contain items absolutely essential for the flight and transfers, valuables, travel documents and a basic change of clothing in case of lost or delayed luggage. Note: laptops, tablets etc. are not allowed on some flights, so check before you put them in your hand luggage.

Make sure your name and destination address is on all your luggage. Mark your luggage so it’s easily recognisable at the baggage collection points.

Locks on luggage are basically useless and are only there for your peace of mind. By all means use them as it makes life a little more difficult for petty thieves, but be aware that all luggage locks and cases can be opened very easily. If you use a strong lock and the Police or Customs need access to your bag, they’ll just damage your bag while opening it.

Most security officers checking hand luggage in the departure area will refuse an item rather than deal with the hassle, paperwork and possible loss of their job for letting it through. It’s just not worth it to them. Think about it. Would you want to possibly lose your job over a bottle of liquid? So, make your life easier, don’t put liquids in hand luggage unless they are essential medicines.

Medicine: Never carry any items containing opioid like Codine. In some countries, Codine is in the same category as heroin and is an immediate trip to prison.

If you need to carry medicine, especially liquid medicine (e.g. insulin), get a typed letter from your Doctor giving full details and tell the airline when you book the flights and before you get to the airport (outward and return).