If looming baggage costs and stronger airport security measures have you in a tizzy, you're not alone. Things we once took for granted when flying, such as complimentary beverages and checked luggage, are fading fast. Most U.S. airlines charge at least $25 to check a bag, and some even charge for carry-ons exceeding backpack-size—but there's no need to panic. Learning how to pack efficiently is the key to lightening your load (but not your wallet). Here, our travel experts share their tips to streamline your packing for a stress-free vacation.
Buy Duplicates and Leave Them in Your Luggage: Once you take a few trips, you will see what you always need to travel with. Identify these items and buy one of each for your travel bag. Leave those items in the bag when you get home. A few items that never leave my travel bag include headphones, phone charger, lint roller, and all liquid toiletries.

Spice up a basic outfit with compact accessories, such as belts,jewelry and scarves. These suitcase space-savers add instant color and can easily take an outfit from day to night. Kelly Vrtis, an organizational travel spokeswoman for The Container Store relies on a lightweight Pashmina shawl as her go-to accessory while traveling. "You can use it over the shoulder, around your elbows or even wear it as a scarf."
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they'll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”
Though Amtrak is the largest train service in the state, it’s not the only way to roll. In Northern California, Caltrain has regular service between San Francisco and San Jose. In Southern California, Metrolink offers service on seven regional lines that connect L.A., Ventura County, Antelope Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Trains dedicated to certain themes and in specific locales, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train, also provide a unique way to see some of California’s premier destinations.
Space-saving compression bags like Space Bag let you pack up to double the amount of gear—no jumping, sitting or lying on suitcase required! Available at The Container Store and Walmart, these oversize plastic bags are equipped with one-way pressure valves along one edge that release excess air and keep it out. Compression bags work best for bulky items, such as sweaters, coats, down jackets, pillows, beach towels and even wet garments.
Save time packing by keeping a carry-on suitcase packed with the minimal amount of clothing, shoes and accessories you need, including 3-ounce toiletries in a Ziploc bag. Trade bulky laptops for thinner laptops and tablets such as a MacBook Air or an iPad. Replace hardcovers with eBooks. If you must bring a coat or bulky shoes, wear them on the plane to avoid taking up space in your luggage.
5. Consider a cycling event. Start by choosing an enticing ride and let that inspire your trip planning. On any given weekend, you’ll find dozens of cycling events throughout California. Want to tackle a century (100 miles) in wine country? Attend a mountain biking clinic? Check the event calendars on SoCalCycling.com, Raceplace.com, Active.com, or TourOfCalifornia.bikefor ideas.
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they'll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”

“For me, the key to packing light is clothing choice. I always favor synthetic materials for undergarments and insulting layers in favor of cotton because they are lighter weight and don’t take up a lot of volume. They also dry quicker if you need to launder while on the road. For instance, I’d favor a Polartec quarter zip over a heavy cotton sweater. Smart wool is another alternative.”
With all of the technology, I work anywhere and everywhere. The problem- running out of power and there’s never a free outlet. In airports, people charge their cell, iPad, and computer. They have all of the technology too. I never travel without a little gadget-a travel power strip. Now, I just ask to share an outlet. This low-tech gadget saves me from wasting time. Travel a lot? Invest in one; they're about $10. Of course, if running out of power gives you an excuse to relax, that’s good too.
I’m fortunate to have never had to deal with lost luggage, but I did have my backpack ripped open on a flight and I was grateful to have not had anything valuable in it at the time. I’ve also been on dodgy buses in Southeast Asia where we’ve arrived at our destination and people have had valuables stolen from their backpack by someone hiding out in the luggage hold while we were transit.
When you arrive to check into your hotel, make sure you are upbeat and smiling. Greet the hostess and say, "It has been a very long day. I'm betting that you have a really nice room waiting for me." Normally, they smile and keep checking you in. At this point, just keep quiet. I am betting you will be very pleased when you open the door to your room. A smile and upbeat personality will get you a long way.
Haha, I liked the use of Pokemon Go. I do have one tip which has served me well, and a friend who is now adventuring; to combat the loneliness, anxiety and homesickness, share selfies with your people. I started doing this with my Mum when I was at Dublin Airport and I’m now preaching it. I’m also opening up to booking one way tickets so thank you Lauren. You are an inspiration.
Buy Duplicates and Leave Them in Your Luggage: Once you take a few trips, you will see what you always need to travel with. Identify these items and buy one of each for your travel bag. Leave those items in the bag when you get home. A few items that never leave my travel bag include headphones, phone charger, lint roller, and all liquid toiletries.
This dramatic region takes up the southeastern half of the state. Remarkable desert parklands, including Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Anza-Borrego, provide an extraordinary chance to explore, while the oasis-like allure of Palm Springs, 3 hours northeast of San Diego, offers sunny resort-style getaways, with golf, tennis, spas, and high-end shopping.
“I’m a firm believer that everything you need for a trip — whether it be three days or three weeks — should be able to be packed in a carry-on. This is simple once you master the art of layering your clothes. Choose a color combination for your attire and pack only pieces that match this so that you can mix, match and layer to create different looks (instead of packing completely separate outfits).”
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