Packing Tips from a Professional Packer

I’ve traveled around the world a handful of times, and had all sorts of travel surprises. But, one thing I have learned is that (assuming your luggage arrives with you) a well-packed suitcase is the key to a smooth journey. And, another plus, a well-packed suitcase doesn’t need checking.

I have a few key philosophies to packing that I learned as a flight attendant years ago, and then adjusted as my work demands in a new career became more complicated.

1. The airport is a war zone.  Don’t dress for style, dress for function – with nice pieces that you can use if you have a bag-tastrophe.

2. Only pack what you, yourself, can carry – up and down stairs, through security, and all through the town … you never know when something unexpected will happen.

3. Pack a wardrobe, not outfits, but make sure the wardrobe will make up a few outfits that work for lounging, business, and going out on the town. As long as those three activities  covered, you can make your options work many different ways and your gear won’t limit your adventure.

4. When you get home, edit and evaluate.  Pull out the list of things you packed and cross off anything you didn’t need.  Next time you’re packing evaluate if you still want the item just in case or if you’ll be just fine without it.

That said, click on the first picture below for a few more tips and travel hacks I’ve figured out.

The Buffer Day

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One o’clock on a Friday afternoon is a perfectly reasonable time to depart from Salt Lake City International Airport en route to the lush green countryside of England. The airport is busy and fully staffed but not yet crowded with weekend warriors and the commuting execs have already cleared out of the Priority security lanes, eager to return after a week away from home and hearth.

My trusty Kelly green roller bag and I whizzed through security, swift and practiced in the head, shoulders, knees, and toes of airport security and onto the Delta lounge for a glass of white wine and a spoonful of Nutella, before I arrived at gate C9, just in time to line up for priority boarding.

Then they called my name. An error with my boarding pass “The Assistant” had once again booked a ticket with my awkward last name typed incorrectly. Some gate agents let it slide, other over-diligent types require that I show my passport and reprint my boarding pass. That flight was staffed by the diligent type.

“The flight is completely full today, Miss would you mind gate checking your bag?”

Now, I believe in flight karma, and I love it when they call me Miss, so I agreed.

“Be the traveler you want to travel with.”

Because I believe in flight karma, when asked to switch seats for families, change flights without affecting arrival times, or check my bag, I try to acquiesce. So I agreed, bid my bag a brief adieu and onto the plane I went, where my sacrifice was rewarded with a bulkhead seat followed by an international flight with no passenger in the seat beside me.

Flight karma is good … until I arrived in Manchester, wearing my less-then-clean ankle length white travel skirt, eighteen hours of grime, black cowboy boots, and my trusty Kelly green suitcase did not.

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My hotel was located a traffic-free one hour ride from the airport, and I was ensured that my bag would be delivered at 6:00 when the next flight arrived from Ansterdam.

But, the gate agent forgot to tell me that the lost luggage desk closes at 6:00 PM.

A call to the lost luggage line confirmed that my baggage would be delivered in the morning, at 9:00 am, when the luggage desk opened.

But, on Sundays, the lost luggage desk does not open until 11:00 am.

Time to make the most of a bad situation.

Handy in-room sewing kit in hand I took my plaid pashmina and fashioned a makeshift knee length kilt for a better finished effect than the rumpled white skirt I had been wearing for two days of planes, trains, and automobiles. With my black travel cardigan, a low braid, and my black boots I almost looked casual and sporting. Unfortunately, the event I was hosting beginning at 12:30 was neither casual nor sporting.

Google, Siri, and a couple of calls later I’d identified a few shopping options within a 30 minute drive and decided it was time to call an audible, “My luggage isn’t going to make it in time for my work function, can you get me a taxi into the nearest city center?”

Hard target search: straightening iron and cosmetics at Boots, then a head-to-toe polyester masterpiece for 50£ at Primark, and I almost looked like the professional I pretend to be (so long as nobody looked too closely or smoked in my immediate vicinity.)

Not a hair out of place, a raised voice, or a lost second of sleep. I have proved again that in travel, as in life, It ain’t a problem if you can solve it with a taxi ride and an American Express.