Travel can be contradictory: Finding a great airfare deal is so much fun while packing can be such a pain.
But pack the right way and you’ll have no nasty surprises (like overweight bag fees of up to $200, or more) and no fears of slowing down already-long security lines. Solution: Pack what you need and skip the stuff you’ll never use.
This is my Do Not Pack List. Look for the ‘Do’ Pack List in my next column.
Leave the good stuff at home (in a safe place). It’s so easy to lose things when traveling and while it’s less common to be robbed or victimized by a scam, it happens. If you must bring diamond studs, wear them (or keep them locked in a hotel safe). Tip: Before you pack an expensive item, ask yourself whether its loss would ruin your trip; then pack accordingly.
2. Too many cards
Here’s a good arrangement: You have a credit card and your spouse (or other family member or very good friend) has another. Then, make sure someone back home has the card info for both in case of loss or theft. And this would be a very good time to clean out your wallet. A thinner wallet will fit more easily in an inside jacket pocket (which appears to be less of a temptation than a rear pants pocket for picket-pockets); thinner wallets also mean more room in purses.
3. Gloppy food
It’s smart to bring food for the plane ride because so many airlines now charge for even modest snacks, but avoid anything too “gloppy.” In other words, anything remotely “liquid-ish” like salsa, jelly or even a jar of peanut butter. Such items are OK in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces but if you’ve got bigger amounts, it won’t be allowed on the plane. Tip: Stay hydrated while flying by bringing an empty water bottle through security and filling it up at a drinking fountain or water refill station (ask an airport employee to show you where they are).
Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. But even paperbacks suck up space and weigh you down, so download any novels you’ve been meaning to get to onto your favorite electronic device.
5. The wrong deodorant
As far as the TSA is concerned, there is a right and wrong deodorant. Here is the rule for deodorants in carry-on bags when going through security checkpoints at U.S. airports:
--Any size is allowed: Stick deodorants
--Only allowed in containers under 3.4 ounces: Spray, gel, liquid, cream, roll-on deodorants.
6. The wrong shaving gear
Pack any kind of razor you want in a checked-bag but if you’re traveling light, electric razors are fine in carry-ons, as are disposable razors. What’s not allowed through the security check-point are safety razors with removable blades.
7. Large suitcase
There are three reasons for using a carry-on instead of a big bag:
--Several airlines charge fees for big bags but not for carry-ons (check with your airline)
--Carry-ons travel by your side so they can’t get lost
--Carry-ons mean no long wait at the baggage carousel.
Finally, how do you pack a carry-on? Compactly, of course. I have a friends who swears by the ”Sit & Zip” method. Place a tightly rolled-up article of clothing (or two) in a large zip bag, then sit on the bag until all the air comes out and zip it up. You’re left with a flattened package, and you can fit a whole bunch of those in the average carry-on.
Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.