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. 

The idea behind private jet card membership programs is simple. The service provider can get an airplane ready in a few hours. In return, you pay a discounted fee – due to the private jet card – and can save a lot of time. The best private jet card program also includes additional services, including a concierge to handle all of your travel arrangements for you.
One easy way to gain more luggage space? Reduce the number of shoes you bring along. Brown only packs one pair of flats and one pair of heels for every trip. "Both can be used to make pants, shorts or a dress casual or dressy," she says. When packing, place shoes toe-to-heel in the bottom of your luggage along the edge, and make the most of the empty spaces inside your footwear by filling them with fragile items wrapped in socks.

You know the socks you often get on overseas flights? The ones that don't fit quite right and come with weird treads that make them impossible to wear with shoes? Give them new purpose by keeping a pair on hand to protect items from getting chipped or scratched in transit. They're the perfect size to hold the trinkets you pick up on your travels—the ones that don't need to be enveloped in bubble wrap but do need a bit of extra protection before being tossed into your bag. And in a pinch, they can serve as a handy alternative to a glasses case in your bag or purse.
I do a lot of back-to-back business travel. To save time, I keep my suitcase partially packed - with a full toiletries kit, basic jewelry, makeup bag, snacks, heels, notebook, pens and business cards always. When I get back from one trip, I repack the basics - pajamas, under-things. Then, I just have to top it off with some business clothes and I'm out the door every time.
The Bundle Approach: This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of The Packing Book, has now become our favorite. It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we’ll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lies flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.

It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn't as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. (Read more on that on The TSA Blog.) See a more complete list of liquids and gels that are not permitted in carry-on luggage in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces here.


But there's an exception to this rule: If you're packing something really valuable, you may want to consider purchasing excess valuation (EV) from your airline. It's not insurance per se, but it increases the airline's liability limit. You'll likely have to ask your airline for it directly; carriers don't often advertise EV, and many travelers have never even heard of it. You can sometimes buy baggage insurance from car-rental companies and travel agencies as well.
Below are a handpicked selection of articles by our team of travel veterans and our favorite travel experts. These are people, just like you, for whom necessity is the mother of invention. Over many trips, suffering the frustration of lost luggage or bags that weighed them down, they learned to pack better, and lighter. They learned the hard way, so you don’t have to.
Usually, just having a smile seems to get me what I want. I always ask when I check in however, if there is an upgrade available, if they give extra points for anything, and what specials might be available. Just last night (although at a stage theater) I asked if I could upgrade my row. Although they don't do exchanges, they made an exception and upgraded me 8 rows.

Like one of your correspondents above said – practice pack and pitch. Any old clothes that are serviceable but may have a spot or are heavily worn get packed and pitched along the way. You can always tie a scarf so it covers a spot and you’re never going to see these people again. Your pitch will equal your stuff purchased. And stuff left in Peru, mark it trash bastuda, doesn’t worm its way back into your closet. I also just purchased an Elizabeth and Clarke unstainable tshirt and can’t wait to see if they work well.


Work-Around: If you unexpectedly decide to rent a car in Europe, use your laptop, notebook, tablet, or smartphone to book your rental through a U.S. website. Just make sure you reach a U.S. website; often, when you go online overseas, the default site that appears is the local version of a company's website. If access to a U.S. site seems blocked, try a Canadian site.
  As President of Fastport Passport, a passport and visa expediting company, I know that one of the most important changes for 2016 involves adding passport pages. Previously, the U.S. Department of State issued a standard passport with 28 pages (17 of which could be used for visas). As of January 1st, 2016, U.S. travelers who run out of visa pages will no longer have the option to add pages. Travelers must now apply for a
Step 1: Gather all the garments you anticipate needing. Then put half of them back. Select clothes in the same color family, packing more tops than bottoms. For a five-day trip, you’ll likely need five shirts, two pairs of slacks or jeans, and one skirt, says Kathleen Ameche, author of The Woman Road Warrior ($15, amazon.com). The average 22-inch check-in bag fits roughly two pairs of jeans, three sweaters, two dresses, and five shirts.

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.
This is always my number-one travel tip -- there are just so many benefits and so few downsides to taking less stuff with you when you travel. When we first set off on our travels, we maxed out the full baggage allowance, and it slowed us down. Carrying so much also caused various types of pain and annoyance: actual physical back pain, the irritation of having to lug around a whole lot of not-so-useful gear, the difficulty of finding somewhere to store our stuff on transit days.

A common mistake many people make is to ignore or shy away from the importance of social customs overseas. Be open to accept hospitality and engage with respect and patience and understanding of the challenges inherent to life in their country. Try the local food, seek out conversations with varying members of the community, and take the time to sit and listen. This type of focus on business trips has helped me learn about the culture and people with whom I would eventually manage an international charity empowering hundreds of women.


Great article. You had me at towels for galactic hitchhiking. “Don’t panic, in large friendly letters.” A fav in regular quote rotation in our house. I’m proud to say I live and do most of the tips! Will need to remember the incognito browsing. Who knew? And I’m definitely on #teamnomoneybelt. But I still can’t bring myself to step into a Starbucks. Can barely even do it in the states! Happy travels and thanks.

Concerned about losing your phone while on the road? Change your phone's lock screen to an image that displays your emergency contact information, including your email address and an alternate phone number. If your phone is lost or stolen and a Good Samaritan finds it, he or she will easily be able to get in touch with you to return it, even if your phone is locked.
Making sure that you don’t lose good business opportunities any time you are traveling is key. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working. It was annoying. I wish I had listened to those who had suggested how to prepare for business trips and said to take a portable wifi device. 

If you are told there are no rooms available, in your most friendly tone, remind the hotel manager that you are a business traveler and that the hotel is one of your company’s preferred vendors (if true). If that doesn’t do the trick, report the incident to your travel manager immediately so they know where you’ll be spending the night and can take up the matter with the hotel as well.
The western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range, defining California’s eastern border, are known as the Gold Country, named after the rich Mother Lode discovered here in the mid-1850s. While gold is still found in the region, new riches include top museums and art in Sacramento, the state capital, plus whitewater rafting, tucked-away towns, farm-fresh dining, and award-winning wines.
It's tempting, on that first daunting trip away, to get everything locked in – every hostel, every transfer, every breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way you don't have to worry about anything, right? But you'll soon come to realise that it pays to have some flexibility. Book in the big things, sure. But also leave yourself space to change your itinerary and take opportunities as they present themselves.

Travel insurance is the most important thing you get that you never want to use. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be out thousands of dollars in bills. It will be there if you get robbed, flights get cancelled, you get sick or injured, or have to be sent home. It’s comprehensive and, for just a few dollars a day, one of the best investments you can get for a trip. You may think you’re superman/woman but so did my friend who broke her arm, didn’t have insurance, and had to pay thousands out of pocket. Insurance was there when I had to replace my camera and when I popped an eardrum scuba diving! Get it! Here are some tips on how to find the best travel insurance.
I just recently discovered your blog and I want to thank you! This blog posting is the most helpful one I have read yet. On most of the other blogs that I have read, the tip are all very repetitive and not very descriptive. Many of your tips I have not heard of and are the kind that one would only figure out through pure experience. For someone with not that much experience traveling, but with a desire to do so soon I found all of these travel tips extremely helpful! Thank you! 

Work trip schedules run pretty tight and you may not have much time to get your regular requests done without sacrificing sleep. In addition to being as well-rested as possible before you go, get as up to date with your workload as possible to give yourself a buffer. It would also be worthwhile to see if there are any colleagues who can help pick up some slack while you’re out of the office, making sure they are aware of what might come up, and where they can find what they need.
4. Research your route. Check out bike mobile app Strava’s city guides for routes in Bakersfield, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and more—coffee shops and photo ops included. Also, the California Bike Coalition has a solid list of free online maps for routes from Humboldt County down to San Diego. You can also get turn-by-turn directions using Google maps: Dark green lines denote protected bike trails (read: no cars), light green lines show dedicated bike lanes, and dashed green lines indicate bicycle-friendly roads.
Fit more in your luggage and avoid folds, creases, and wrinkles by employing the "Bundle Wrapping" method from OneBag.com. This packing strategy involves filling a small pouch with soft items (like socks, underwear, etc.) and then wrapping larger clothing items around the pouch to form a bundle. (Click here to see a helpful diagram of the Bundle Wrapping method.)
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"There's nothing more annoying than struggling to stuff everything back into your suitcase at the end of a trip only to realize you didn't even wear half the clothes you brought. That's why I started strictly packing by outfit — not individual item — and only letting pieces I had a plan for make the cut. I'll take a skirt only if I know I'm bringing a top and shoes that I would wear with it, and I'll think about the activities on my itinerary and what I see myself wearing while doing them. I hate checking a bag but love clothes, so being realistic and planning ahead is key." — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor

The one thing I really have to disagree on though, and think you’re mad for not doing, is collecting points and airmiles. I cottoned on to this a few years back and every single trip I’ve taken since then has been by using airmiles and reward flights. I’ve travelled to Thailand, Finland, Croatia, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Norway and more – all with points and just paying the taxes in cash. It saves a tonne of money and even if you use budget airlines most of the time, if you pay with a points-earning credit card then you can still collect points to use on airlines where you may want a better quality experience, for a longer flight for example. I would seriously recommend American Express – I’ve had the Amex Gold, BA Basic and BA Premium Plus cards. I’ve also just applied for the Lloyds Avios rewards visa and mastercard combo for when we spend a year abroad, which also comes with 0 fees on foreign spend and earns you points. If you want more info, I find this really useful:
If a) your baggage is lost or delayed; b) you miss your connection and will be late checking in; or c) you are going to a destination you’ve never visited before, you’ll want to have complete contact information for your hotel on your person. Before you leave home, print out the hotel’s name, address and phone number, and program the latter into your cell phone. It’s also a good idea to print out a map of the hotel’s neighborhood, whether for your own use or to show to a confused cab driver.
Trying to make a tight connection between flights is a surefire way to add unnecessary stress (and a possible missed flight) to your journey. And you can't always count on airlines for guidance; their recommended connection-time minimums often leave frequent travelers wondering how anyone could possibly get to another flight in the suggested amount of time.

Major airport can provide on-site assistance to and from flights, including wheelchairs; call your airline in advance for details. Some rental car companies offer specially outfitted vehicles with hand controls, wheelchair accessibility, and other assistive devices. Amtrak train service provides added services for passengers with disabilities, as well as a 15% discount on regular travel fares.
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