Pack This, Don't Pack That

Whether you’ll be lugging a large suitcase or making do with a compact carry-on, size and weight matters. Too big or too heavy and you’ll pay the price – fees which can run as high as $200 each-way. The key to packing right is packing light, and we’re here to help.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney knows how to pack. Oh, does he ever.

Pack This, Not That

Try one of these ideas, try them all.

1. Shoes 

  • Don’t Pack: Multiple pairs of shoes unless you absolutely have to, particularly clunky sneakers. Are you really going to go to the gym?
  • Pack This: Pack one pair of shoes (or better yet, light sandals) and wear another pair – your heavier shoes.

A quick lesson  on how to pack – you’ll like this.

2. Pants

  • Don’t Pack: Denim, if you can avoid it (especially men’s jeans). The heavy fabric can really add heft to a bag, possibly triggering those overweight fees.
  • Pack This: Khakis are lighter and cooler. Make sure they’re washable.

3. Outerwear

  • Don’t Pack: If you will be traveling to the mountains or some other cold weather venue, don’t pack a heavy coat, wear it. You can always take it off on the plane and use it as a blanket (flight attendants passing out blankets and pillows in coach may still happen on some airlines but we sure haven’t seen it lately).
  • Pack This: If it won’t be cold enough for a coat, try a light-weather sweater (maybe cotton) and layer tops underneath or even over your sweater (we offer packing tips, not fashion advice).

Don’t forget to find a good flight deal

4. Toiletries

  • Don’t Pack: Think you’ll save by bringing economy-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner in your suitcase?  Watch your savings evaporate if you get hit with an overweight charge.
  • Pack This:  The little travel size toiletries (or just buy the containers and fill with your own stuff). Or borrow from your relatives. Or buy this stuff at the nearest Rite Aid or CVS.

5. Reading material

  • Don’t Pack: Even medium-sized hardcover books or a stack of magazines takes up a fair amount of space and weight, so leave them at home.
  • Pack This: An electronic device to view your books on (plus maybe movies and TV). Look, I prefer the solidity of a real-live book myself, but not while traveling. If you  haven’t gotten around to Stephen King’s 11/22/63 yet and were thinking of bringing it along to the beach, download it on a Nook, Kindle, iPad, whatever and your lighter suitcase will thank you. So will your wrists (trust me).

6. Food

  • Don’t Pack: Tuna with hard-boiled eggs and raw onions. See where we’re going? No smelly food. Your seatmates will thank you.
  • Pack This: Something from home because you know it’ll be cheap and good (cheaper than those airline meals which domestic coach passengers have to pay for). Note: Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit charge for soft drinks so if you really want to save, bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up after  (the TSA does not allow liquids in containers bigger than 3.4 ounces through its checkpoints).

7. Gifts

  • Don’t Pack: Any kind of space-hog gifts and avoid bottle of perfume and wine (sometimes they break, and what a mess it is).
  • Pack This: How about a gift card? Or buy something and have it shipped. If you need a present for a small child upon arrival, there’s a lot of tiny, cheap stuff in your local drugstore that will thrill little hearts. Or pick up something in the airport gift shop on your way out.

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Published: May 7, 2014