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How To Pack Light For Air Travel

Travelling Check list. photo planepack

Oftentimes, when we are packing for air travel, we end up packing a lot of items ‘just in case.’ Sometimes we even have to pay for excess luggage and at the end of the day, we don’t use half of those items. The importance of packing light cannot be over-emphasised. It not only saves you time, but stress.


Here are tips on how to pack light and smart:

Have a packing list
Make a checklist of things you need and want. Then reduce the list of things you want. Personally, I make a list of items for my hand luggage and check-in luggage. Also consider the location, weather and duration of stay when making your checklist.

Use a light luggage
A light luggage is easier to carry. Choose a luggage with enough pockets and compartments. It can be stressful dragging your heavy bags through airports.

Packing light. Photo Smarter Travel

Pack clothes you can mix and match
When you pack clothes, you can mix and match in terms of style and colours. You can create more outfits with fewer items. This, in turn, saves you some space in your luggage because you won’t need many clothes.

Don’t pack all your shoes, pack the lighter pairs
You may be a shoe lover like Carrie Bradshaw but if you want to travel light, you would need to pack your lightest shoes. When you pack clothes, you can mix and match in terms of style and colours. You can create more outfits with fewer items. It is best to pack shoes in a shoe bag or Ziploc, especially if they’ve been worn before.

Don’t pack items just in case
Consider the reason for your trip. Are you travelling for fun, business, medical? This will determine the kind of clothing to pack and, in turn, help you to pack only what you need.

Ditch the toiletry and makeup bag, use a Ziploc instead
Most of our toiletry and makeup bags are quite bulky and have a bit of weight. Besides, we have to take out all liquid contents at security checks and place them in a transparent bag. Using a Ziploc saves you time and stress.

Use travel-size toiletries, perfumes and cosmetics
It is easier to travel with travel-size toiletries, especially if you are not checking in your luggage. You can buy travel-size bottles and refill them with your toiletries; you do not want to reach the final boarding gate before you discover that your 100ml designer perfume or skincare cannot travel with you.

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them gives your bag more space. Also, it prevents the clothes from wrinkling. Putting heavier items at the bottom of the suitcase makes it easier to roll the bag through the airport hallways.

For electronics, pack what you really need
Consider the purpose of the trip when packing electronics. If the trip is for fun, a smartphone is enough. If it is a work trip, then you may need to pack your iPad or laptop.

Leave jewellery and valuables at home
Make sure you label your luggage ‘fragile’ if there are any fragile items inside.
To be on the safe side, carry your essential items such as passport, money, wallet, medication, in your carry-on luggage. Make sure you pack items of clothing that can last you for a day or more in case the airline loses your luggage.

A tourist with her backpack | Image: Fred Perrotta

Write your name and contact details on the inside and outside of your luggage
Many airlines offer online check-in for their flights. If you check-in online, you can skip the long check-in queues and go straight to security. Also, some airlines offer online payment for overweight/extra baggage, and it is usually cheaper when you pay online than when you pay at the airport.

Keep checking your itinerary and flight status for any changes in flight time. Some cities have multiple airports, so you will want to make sure that you are at the correct airport.

Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance is very important, yet often overlooked. It covers flight disruptions, emergency medical expenses, lost or stolen baggage and personal liability. Confirm what the insurance covers with the insurance company.

Exchange currency beforehand or online
It is better to exchange your cash from your departure country because the currency exchange companies at the airport usually give a terrible exchange rate.

Bring your own food
Some budget airlines do not provide free inflight meals, you have to pay for it. These airlines usually allow passengers to bring their own food. Confirm if your fight allows this.

In this article:
Stella Okemuo
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