Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 16, 2011

My Travel Packing Tips

In my previous post entitled At Peace With Packing, I mentioned that packing is one of my least favorite things to do. But because I travel so often, I had to finally make peace with packing. As a result, my wife no longer has to hear me complain about how much I hate to pack. In fact, she won’t allow me to speak those words at home! Through years of trial and error and trying every method recommended for packing, I have settled on what works best for me. The following are my personal recommendations for packing a checked and a carry-on bag.

Checked Baggage

My favorite all-time travel bag is the Bob Timberlake East West bag. This is a tough bag crafted of heavy-duty 22-ounce cotton canvas with paraffin weatherproof coating. This is the most durable bag I have ever used for travel and has survived everything from trips to the African bush to the steppes of Mongolia. The feature I like best are the zippered flaps that open to the East and the West (thus the name). I keep these compartments packed at all times with my first-aid kit, shower flip-flops, toiletries kit, all-weather jacket, travel towel, and under garments and socks rolled neatly into packing cubes. I also have room for two pairs of shoes in one of the side compartments. The large main compartment is ample enough for me to pack my clothes. I generally keep the weight of my checked bag under 45 pounds.

I pack all of my clothes in Pack-It Folders available from Eagle Creek. Samsonite also has its own version. The Pack-It Folders come with a hard plastic insert that serves as a guide for folding shirts and pants in a way that reduces wrinkles. I also carry an extra folder to pack my dirty clothes so that I can maximize room in my luggage. I have found that stuffing dirty clothes into a laundry bag is not as efficient as using a Pack-It Folder. And, packing in these folders and the smaller zippered packing cubes also makes it easy on those occasions when my bag is opened for inspection because everything in my bag is visually accessible to the inspector.

Carry-On Bag

Over the years I have used a variety of backpacks and flight bags but have settled on the Bob Timerlake Rucksack as my favorite carry-on bag. This heavy-duty backpack has zippered compartments for my laptop, a light parka, a small toiletries kit, my electronic gadgets, my ticket and passport pouch, and a complete change of clothes. I always carry one complete change of clothes in a smaller Pack-It Folder just in case I get temporarily separated from my checked bag. This rucksack also easily fits into the overhead compartments on both larger and smaller airplanes or under the seat in front of me.

Luggage Tags

Some of the folks who have traveled with me over the years have expressed concern about how much of their name and address should be exposed on a luggage tag. I don’t share these concerns because I want to make it easy to identify my bag from a distance and to make it harder for someone to take it … intentionally or unintentionally. I use bright yellow luggage tags and also a yellow retriever tag (available from Magellan travel supplies) that contains a copy of my flight itinerary. If I get separated from my bag, the retriever tag has instructions in eight languages that alerts baggage agents to check my itinerary and forward my bag to my next destination.


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