June 27, 2017

3 Packing Tips for Easier Air Travel

Whether you're flying for vacation or for work, it's important to maximize the space in your carry on luggage. These 3 packing trips for easier air travel will help you choose the right size suitcase and decide what to leave at home.

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While travel itself is fun, packing and unpacking aren’t!  Liquids restrictions on flights, obscene checked baggage fees, and the exhausting post-trip to-do list can make travel stressful.

Today, I’m sharing 3 quick tips for easier air travel.  Oh… plus a bonus tip!  You’ll learn:

  • Where to scrimp on regulated liquids in your carry-on baggage,
  • How to avoid checking a bag when flying,
  • An easy way to relieve travel fatigue, and
  • How to check one big task off of your post-trip to-do list.

Save room in your carry-on liquids baggie

For air travel inside the United States, there are specific restrictions regarding the size and number of liquids you can put in your carry-on bag.   You’re limited to containers no larger than 3.4 ounces.  Plus, they all have to for into a quart-sized plastic bag (A little larger than a sandwich bag).

This can pose issues, especially if you’re packing liquid or cream makeup or skincare products.

By the way, “liquids” includes aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes, and goops (added that one myself!) in addition to actual liquids.  See the TSA website for more information.

As a result, it’s challenging to cram all of your usual haircare, skincare, and makeup products into that little bag.  Even if they’re in travel-size containers.

ShowMe Suburban | 3 Packing Tips for Easier Air Travel

Pack only your essential liquids

How can you save room in your liquids bag for the things that matter most (You know, like mascara)?

Easy:  Don’t pack basic liquid toiletries such as shampoo, body wash, or toothpaste.  Instead, buy travel-size toiletries once you arrive at your destination.

I know this sounds crazy at first.  What?  She wants me to embark on a trip without shampoo or toothpaste or body wash?  Hear me out though.

Cutting the basics out of your liquids bag leaves room for packing the specialized makeup and skincare products you’ll actually want to have with you.  You’ll get to bring along the full complement of your makeup and beauty regimen (As long as it all fits in that quart-sized bag!).

When traveling, I feel my best when my skincare and makeup routines are the same as when I’m home.  Having my skin and beauty stuff on-hand is one less little thing to stress about.  Added stress would only take away from the enjoyment of a trip!

Plus, I’m a routines girl.  Having my morning and evening routines intact when I’m away from home helps me hold on to a little slice of my “normal.”

Where to get the toiletries you didn’t pack

After your flight touches down, hightail it to a pharmacy, Target, or other general retailer.  Head to the personal care section, and pick up travel-size versions of whatever you need.  Shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, toothpaste, sunscreen… they have it all.

Better yet!  If you’re staying in a hotel that offers complimentary toiletries, plan to just use those instead of purchasing travel-size products.  I promise you, you can survive a few days without your salon brand shampoo!

If you simply must have your special shampoo or other products, search online for a salon in your destination city that sells your brand.  Give them a call ahead of time and see if you they sell travel sizes of your products.  Then head that direction once you arrive in town.

Really though, a travel-size bottle of Suave shampoo won’t kill your hair.  You’ll likely use most or all of the travel-size products during your trip anyway, so you’re not wasting anything.

Skipping the basics frees up room in your liquids bag for more of your makeup and skincare essentials.  But, another great perk of keeping your liquids to a minimum is that it helps you to avoid having to check a bag.  Which brings me to my next tip.

Don’t check a bag

If you’ll be travelling for a week or less, you can easily avoid checking a bag.

Why would you want to?

First, doing carry-on only saves money.  Almost all airlines charge $25 or more for your first checked bag.  The fees for additional checked bags increase pretty steeply.  I’d much rather save that money to spend during my trip!

Next, it allows you to bypass the luggage carousel (The least-fun carousels in the world!).  Carry-on only girls get to strut out of the airport right after their flight.

Finally, it saves potential frustration from lost or damaged bags (Believe me, it happens!).

It’s actually pretty easy to maximize your baggage space with carry-ons.

First, check the airline’s website for maximum carry-on dimensions.  Most airlines allow one carry-on and one “personal item” such as a purse or backpack.  Be sure to check the dimensions for both.  Plan to use the 2 largest bags you have that fit within the carry-on size limits.

By the way, you can throw that purse idea out the window right now.  Use the biggest backpack or tote bag you own as your personal item.  Again, make sure it fits within the airline’s maximum carry-on dimensions!

Neatly empty and fold or roll your purse up, and stow it inside the backpack.  Once you’re off your flight, switch out bags and rock that killer purse around town.

Speaking of folding things up, have you ever tried Tieks?  They’re super easy to fold up and smush into your luggage.  These travel-friendly little flats are also chic and comfortable.  Read my review here.

For those who want to look chic at the airport

Darling, I do too.  I practice my aloof-but-cool face in the mirror all the time.  (Not really.  Okay, maybe once a week.)

But, you’re better off lugging around that backpack filled with more shoes, clothes, and accessories than would have fit into your main carry-on.

It will allow you to look more chic later on your trip, around people who actually care.

Oh, and in case you were wondering (Because I know you were!), fanny packs are usually considered a personal item.  So don’t try to slip a fanny pack past the gate agent if you’re also carrying a suitcase and backpack.  Because the airline will totally cramp your style on that.  I know you’re disappointed.

Consider packing some snacks for when you need a boost

Travel is great.  But we’re often trying to squeeze the most out of a trip, which can quickly lead to fatigue.  Long layovers, action-packed days, and jet lag can zap your energy.

To ease that tired feeling, try packing a box of your favorite snacks in your carry-on.   Individually-wrapped snacks work great.  Think your favorite cereal bar, 100-calorie packs of nuts, or even mini packs of cookies.

When you feel that overwhelming, tired feeling setting in, chow down on your snack.  A couple of good things will happen as a result.

First, your blood sugar will get little increase, giving you a mini-bump in energy.  Second, the taste of something familiar will soothe your poor, stressed out brain.  As a result, your mind and body will get the boost they need to recover from that tied feeling.  (By the way… can you tell that I’m a sucker for routines and familiarity?)

I have a favorite cereal bar that I eat pretty much every day.  I always take a box of them along when I travel.

When I feel myself starting to drag from the excitement of my trip, I call a personal time-out.  Then, I find a calm, quiet spot, relax my mind, and have my snack.  That little combination of mental downtime, plus food, almost always does the trick.

When I’m done, I splash some cool water on my face (Yes, I actually do that!).  I’m left feeling re-energized and ready to take on the rest of my trip.

Bonus tip:  Do your laundry before you fly home

One my least favorite things about travel is the list of to-dos once I get home.  Unpacking, laundry, going through mail, getting back into normal routines.  It sort of makes me feel like I need another vacation!

However, you can definitely knock at least one of those things off your to-do list.

That thing is laundry.

ShowMe Suburban | 3 Packing Tips for Easier Air Travel

If you’re staying with a friend or family member, ask if you can do your laundry before you leave.  When you get home, you’ll have the pleasure of putting away your clean clothes, instead of starting a load of laundry.  How awesome is that?

I like to do my laundry the night before I leave.  Typically I spend that evening lounging around with my host, recapping the events of the trip.  Why not throw the laundry in the washing machine while chatting, then fold and pack it just before bed?  It’s one thing checked off of your post-trip to-do list.

What I’m saying is…

Fight off some air travel stress by making smart packing choices.  A few tweaks here and there will:

  • Give you more room to pack the skincare and makeup you want to bring the most
  • Help you avoid the fees and stress of checking luggage
  • Provide a physical and mental boost when your energy lags, and
  • Check laundry off of your post-travel to-do list

How do you prepare for air travel?  What’s your favorite energy-boosting snack when you’re on a trip?  Let me know in the comments below!

ShowMe Suburban | 3 Packing Tips for Easier Air Travel


Whether you're flying for vacation or for work, it's important to maximize the space in your carry on luggage. These 3 packing trips for easier air travel will help you choose the right size suitcase and decide what to leave at home.

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