Crafty tricks for packing your bags

On one trip I saw baggage handlers roughly flinging bags several metres through the air into a trailer.  “Do they always handle bags like that?” I asked the Stewardess.  “Yes” she said, with evident surprise that I had asked.

Your checked-in bags are going to suffer abuse.  Anything that can break, or that has value should be taken on board in your carry-on luggage: your passport, medication, money, cameras and jewellery.

Things that could leak

Liquids such as shampoo, lotions, oils and the like should be packed in plastic bags in case they leak.  Sealable bags are best, but you should vent excess air from the bag before closing them, to avoid bursting.  Any large quantity of fluid is likely to be confiscated if you present them for inspection as part of your cabin luggage, so they should be packed in your check-in luggage

Dirty items

While some advocate using the inside of shoes as additional storage space, this is not hygienic.  Having laundry done as you travel can be expensive, so many travellers have only enough laundry done to keep themselves in clean clothes, and then take the remainder home to wash there.  If you have dirty laundry then that can usually share space with shoes.

Pack shoes into plastic bags to keep any odours from spreading to the rest of your luggage.

Strong things around the edges

Place stronger items toward the outside of  your bag – those items can absorb the bangs, shocks and abuse and protect more delicate items positioned in the middle.

Sheaths and covers

Some dresses come with sheaths for packing, and gent’s suits travel best in the right zippered bag.  Using this sort of packing helps keep them compact and prevent wrinkles.


Clothing must be folded.  If you fold clothes tightly and without creating wrinkles then they will arrive at the other end in the same condition.  …Unless security or customs open your bags for inspection and randomly jumble up the contents.  (That has been the experience of a number of us.)

There is the high road, where you meticulously fold each item individually.  Some persons even advocate placing tissue paper inbetween each layer.  One can even purchase organisers that give you mini-pockets for individual items.

The low road approach is followed by one of my team.  It is fast, and disappointingly effective.  He carefully folds and then rolls up a tee-shirt.  Then he makes a pile of all his shirts, folds all the sleeves over together and rolls the entire pile around the tee-shirt.

Both the high road and the low road require that you do up all zips and fasten most buttons before doing the folding.  Stiff belts are removed from pants and rolled up separately, so that pants can be packed flat.

Address labels

Write your name and some contact details on a sticky label and affix it inside your bag.  Try not to use your home address.  In some places criminals examine your labels to find your home address so they can break in and steal, because they know that you are away.  Use your business address, a PO Box number, or even the address of your travel agent!

The same details should be on a label fixed to the outside of your luggage – you do not want someone that finds your bag to have to break it open to find your contact details.  (Use a discreet label that does not flash the details but that obscures them until it is opened.)

If you have mobile phone access during your trip, then put your phone number on the label too.  It will make co-ordinating the recovery of lost luggage much easier than if it is going via a number in your home country.  (It has happened, for instance, that identical bags have been inadvertently swapped during airport-to-hotel transfers, and dropped off at the wrong hotel.)

1 comment for “Crafty tricks for packing your bags

  1. Helmke
    19 February 2012 at 12:32

    You say that having laundry done as you travel can be expensive. The way around that is to donate your cloth to any Thrift Shop. They wash or dry-clean any item and you buy them back for a few dollar in two days time.

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