If only packing was as simple as throwing a bunch of stuff in a suitcase and dashing off to the airport! There are many TSA guidelines that are essential for you to know, along with many other things you need to take into consideration while packing for your trip such as things you can do to help yourself in the event of your suitcase getting lost and ways to help prevent that simply traumatic experience from occurring.
1. Take off old airline tags – You don’t need the tags from all the places that you have flown to previously on there and it could lead to confusion for the airline staff, which in the worst case scenario could end up at a previous destination! Just remember with airline travel it is always better to be safe than sorry!
2. Put your contact information inside and outside of your bag – If your luggage happens to get lost or stolen, you have far more chance getting it back if you have your contact information inside and outside of your bag.
3. Make your checked luggage unique – In order to make my bag easier to identify on the luggage carousel, I used to use a brightly colored hair scrunchy (yes, I said scrunchy!) tied around my handle. I have now upgraded and bought a bright pink key chain to put on the case. Basically, use something that is easy to spot and will set your bag apart from others.
4. Make sure you know your airline’s bag policy in advance of travelling – Most airlines allow one bag free to check in on international flights and also allow one carry on bag. Domestic flights let you take a bag in flight, but often charge you to check in a bag. Each airline has it’s own policies, for example Jet Blue allows you to check one bag in for free, however if your airline doesn’t you could end up paying up to $100 in fees to check in your bag.
5. Make sure that your two carry on bags are legit carry on items – You are usually allowed two carry on items. One can be a small suitcase or duffle (there are clear size limits, which are enforced) and the other is your personal bag such as a book bag or purse. I have seen many people try to bring two duffles (one being a little smaller than the other) or a duffle and a small suitcase and try to claim the smaller one as their personal bag. That is not going to fly (pun intended!). They will make you check one of the bags in and you will have to pay for it, so don’t try to trick the system, it simply wont work!
6. Try to weigh your bag at home – It is always hard to tell if your bag is over the airlines check in weight limit which is usually 50 pounds. I used to lay it on a scale which is not the most accurate method, however it is certainly a good guide. I recently bought a new bag which has a handle that lights up if it is over the airline weight restriction. It is one of the best things I have ever bought!
7. Check your on board liquid size – You are allowed to bring shampoos, lotions, perfume, etc but it has to be in a bottle no larger than 3.4 ounces. Otherwise, they will throw it out and I know you don’t want to see your favorite perfume or cologne tossed out! I bought 3.4 ounce bottles from a regular drug store in the airline section which came to be extremely handy. I just pour what I need for my trip. Many times you wouldn’t need a whole bottle anyway so it also has the added benefit of saving that all important luggage space.
8. Don’t over stuff your carry on – Many people don’t like to check in so they over stuff their check in bag. There are bag placeholder examples at security and at the gate that they will make you put your bag in, if it doesn’t fit, they will make you check the bag in. It doesn’t matter if the bag itself is the correct size, if it is overstuffed and they see it and you will be out of luck. If you happen to get away with it and get on board with your bag, but it doesn’t fit in the overhead you will have to check it in on the plane.
9. Always bring your valuables on board with you – I never pack anything that I wouldn’t want to lose (not that I would want to lose any of it, but you know what I mean!). Make sure to keep your passport, jewelry, electronics, money, credit cards, etc with you. I don’t think you would want to take the chance in case something gets stolen when it’s not in your sight or if your luggage gets lost.
10. Pack to be prepared for the worst – Hopefully, you never get your bag lost or stolen, but you should be prepared in case you do. I always spread out my clothes between my check in and carry on bag. This way if something does happen, I have clothes and other things I would need in my carry on. It might not be as convenient to have stuff separated, but you’ll thank me later if something does happens!