Make a packing list
When it comes to packing, procrastinators fall short. Start your packing process days or even weeks ahead of your departure date; this gives you time to craft a complete list, plus purchase any additional items you might need for your vacation. Creating a packing list is a fail-safe way to ensure that you never, ever forget to bring something important.
Roll, don't fold.
Many travel experts—including backpackers, who must stuff months' worth of clothing into a pack the size of a box of wine—agree that rolling is superior to folding. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, they're less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases.
Don’t forget the adapters
If you do need them, save on the crazy airport prices by buying them ahead of your trip.
Know your airline's baggage-fee policy
Figuring out the airlines' tricky and befuddling baggage-fee policies is key to any budget-minded packing strategy. While most airlines permit travelers to check at least one bag on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights. Spirit Airlines—that notoriously customer-unfriendly discounter—even charges as much as $100 for carry-on bags. Before you begin packing, take a peek at your airline's website and read its baggage policy. This is something you might even want to do prior to buying your plane ticket, especially if you're set on bringing a checked bag or two. Consider flying on Southwest or JetBlue, both of which permit at least one free checked bag on domestic flights.
Don’t predict the weather – check it
Follow the 3-1-1 rule
What happens if you don't follow the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage? Attempt to bring a large bottle of shampoo or a full-size gel deodorant through the security line and the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff, holding you up in line in the process. So get familiar with the agency's rules: All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag. 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.
Use your personal item wisely
It's standard for airlines to permit each traveler to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard planes. This personal item is subject to specific size requirements (these vary by airline), but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is generally acceptable. In Five Tips for Fitting it All in a Carry-on Bag, Caroline Morse advises travelers to leverage their personal-item allowance, suggesting, "Forget wasting my personal-item allowance with a tiny purse. I'll bring a larger tote bag that I can stash under the seat but will still give me extra storage space. This will come in handy for keeping all of the things I'll need to be on hand during the flight within arms' reach as well."
This advice is twofold: Wear layers and pack in layers. First, your on-the-road wardrobe should feature plenty of layers, which will help you jetset through multiple climates in style and comfort. Second, the items in your bag should be packed in neat layers for easy screening. According to the TSA, "Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)" so that the security agent screening your bag can get a clear picture of what's inside. The faster the TSA agent can screen your stuff, the faster you'll get through the security line.
Never check essential items
It's terribly important to keep your valuable and essential belongings in your carry-on bag, not in your checked luggage. Your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables should always be brought onto the plane with you. We probably don't need to tell you why you need to keep your passport and wallet on your person. But if the airline loses your luggage (or if a TSA agent gets sticky fingers), you'll regret stowing your expensive watch in a checked bag.
Pack a mini closet in your hand luggage
Not literally, of course, but it’s always a nice idea to add a clean set of underwear and a garment in your carry-on bag, in case of your luggage being lost in an aeroplane mix-up.
The most necessary things go on top
If you believe that a particular thing can be useful to you very soon (perhaps at the airport), for example, a jacket – put it on top. Very obvious advice, but perhaps it’s so obvious that you’d be bound to forget otherwise!