Packing "smart" means packing light, being organized, knowing airline restrictions, and preventing baggage mishaps. Use these tips to make your journey easier and give you peace of mind.
Luggage Packing Tips
- Prepare a checklist, and scratch off items as you pack. The climate will dictate clothing choices, but plan for inclement weather and unseasonably cold temperatures.
- Check with your airlines for carry-on limits (number, weight, size).
- Most airlines limit carry-on baggage to two pieces and do not count small items such as purses, cameras, and umbrellas.
- Place key items that should be easily accessible in carry-on luggage, including medicine, passports, business papers, and items that are breakable, such as cameras and glasses. Pack critical items to last a few days in case checked luggage is delayed.
- Bring adapters/converters and other special hook-ups necessary to make computers or hair dryers work.
- Pack only as much luggage as you can carry by yourself.
- Take a photo of your packed bags, and keep the photo and a contents checklist in a separate bag in case luggage is misplaced.
What to Avoid
- Do not pack or attempt to carry on fireworks, flammable liquids, pressure containers, camping fuel, and other items that can become dangerous as the pressure changes during flight. If carrying hazardous items, you must declare them to the airline. A list of unacceptable items is available on the TSA's website, www.tsa.gov/traveler-information.
- Do not pack valuable items such as cash, jewelry, or irreplaceable items in checked luggage, since it can be lost. If carrying property worth more than USD 2,500 per passenger per domestic flight or USD 640 per bag on an international trip, consider purchasing "excess valuation" from the airline.
- Leave enough time to check bags, and retain claim checks for every checked bag until after you have left the final destination's baggage claim area.
- Double-check the three-letter destination tag attached to luggage by airline attendants to make sure the bag is checked all the way through to your final destination, not any connecting cities.
- Avoid using curbside check-in stations because statistics show this is an excellent opportunity for bags to become stolen or lost.
Keeping Luggage Safe in Transit
- Invest in sturdy TSA-approved luggage locks. Consider combination locks so a lost key will not spoil the trip.
- Stow heavy carry-on items under the passenger seat, not in the overhead bin.
- Use privacy tags on bags that contain personal information concealed from other travelers or would-be thieves. Place your name, address, and phone number inside of the luggage; only put your name, work address, and perhaps mobile phone number on the outside.
- Carry critical items like passports and airline tickets in a money belt during sightseeing, or store them in a hotel or ship safe deposit box. Make sure you are handed a receipt when the hotel or ship holds these items.
- Determine whether you need baggage insurance, and, if so, explore the options offered by certain credit card companies and travel agencies.
- Report to your airline any bags found open, damaged, or unlocked, and check their contents for missing items.
- If luggage is lost, insist the airline fill out a form and provide you a copy, even if an agent assures you the bag will be on the next flight.
- Make sure you write down the agent's name and phone number to follow up on your bag mishap.
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