This month’s Tip for Travel: Layer up and pack light

Did you know? Nearly all airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item with you at no cost onto the airplane.

Flying can get really expensive, so avoid paying the expensive baggage fees by packing smart. While living in Germany, I traveled to 14 different countries and never once checked a bag. Even for trips that lasted a week or longer, I found ways to fit everything I needed into a single carry-on backpack. How to pack for a trip is just as important as what to pack for a trip. Below, we will talk about both.

Rules to the Carry-on:

Every airline has their own rules about the size and weight of the bags you carry on to the airplane. Here are a few of the well known airlines and their regulations:

Airline Bag dimensions Bag weight
Delta 22″ x 14″ x 9″ not specified
United 22″ x 14″ x 9″ not specified
Allegiant 22″ x 14″ x 9″ 25 lbs (11.34kg)
Lufthansa* 21.6″ x 15.7″ x 9″ 17.6 lbs (8kg)
RyanAir 21.6″ x 15.7″ x 7.8″ 22 lbs (10kg)

*Luftansa: “In First and Business Class you may take two pieces of hand luggage and their contents on board with you. Economy Class passengers are only permitted one piece of hand luggage. Please check for possible country-specific variations to this general rule.”


How to Pack Smart: When you break the art of packing down it includes 4 parts: shoes, clothes, hygiene products, and electronics.

For women this is probably the one that causes the most stress. We love having different shoes for different activities or even different outfits. While traveling, however, do we really need a brown AND a black pair or a “just in case” pair?? Depending on the destination and weather, shoes come down to comfort, warmth, water, and looks. First, determine what types of activities you will be doing on your trip. Walking? Hiking? Swimming? Skiing? Those are the types of shoes/boots that will be most important. Second, decide if those critical shoes can cross over.

If you are going somewhere with beaches, find those flip-flops that can also be dressy enough to wear out to dinner at night. If you need something warmer, get a pair of boots that are warm, weather resistant and yet able to cross over between casual and dressed up. If you definitely need a more athletic pair of shoes choose ones that are light and also go with jeans. Cross over hiking/running shoes are great for this and typically come in darker, earth-tone colors that won’t stand out. After you narrow down which shoes you definitely need, leave the ones you don’t at home in your closet. Pack the smallest and lightest pairs of shoes inside your carry-on. Wear thebulkiest, heaviest pair you are taking. In many cases I have found it convenient to pack my shoes last. One trick I have tried was to tie those necessary sneakers to the outside of my bag. It may be pushing some limits on the “bag size”, but I was never given any trouble for it.  It also eliminated some baggage weight as they dangled off the side of the scale resting on the ground while my bag was weighed.

Just like shoes, clothes are determined by the activities and weather. Obviously in winter, clothes are going to be thicker and bulkier to pack, but there are still ways to make it work. Layer, layer and layer is my trick to keeping my bags light on longer trips. Find those shirts and jackets that can be mixed, matched and reversed. I don’t mean reverse because they smell, rather, reverse the layering. In winter I like to use the four layer rule. The first layer should be very fitted. The second layer should also be fitted but able to go over the first. The third layer should be some sort of inner-jacket. The fourth layer should be your practical winter jacket. Following the layer rule I can then pack smaller articles like t-shirts or scarfs that help me change outfits every day, yet never overload my travel bag. In summer, it’s the same idea except less layers and lighter options. One important factor in summer is taking the heat into account. You may be doing activities that make you sweat. Therefore, you may want to pack a few more first layers such as tank tops so that you can wear those second or third layers more than once. Remembering the layer rule will keep your carry-on light, your clothes fresh, and your style cool.

Hygiene products:
Scale down your excessive hygiene products in two ways. One, if you are traveling with others, SHARE. Two toothpastes, two hair products, two lotions, two straighteners, two makeup kits, two shavers is a little bit excessive. Split up the bag space and share when you get there. Option two is even more simple. Take the necessities like tooth brush, contacts, etc. and buy the rest when you get there. Plus I bet you will find you may not even “need” those things when traveling.

What type of traveler are you? Do you work while you travel? Do you take tons of pictures? Do you go to get away from everything? These questions will help you decide what you bring for electronics. Lets face it, most of us do not need to work while on a trip, so leave that laptop at home. You probably will want your phone, if it works outside of home, but follow the sharing rule of hygiene products if you travel with others. If you use the same plug-in, leave one behind. A camera is something I never go on a trip without; however, is it a trip that you need your excessive SLR camera with two different lenses? Or, will you be doing more activities in which your smaller pocket size camera will work better? Then there is the ipod. I actually found that my ipod touch replaced my phone on many trips. Most of the time unless you want to buy a sim card or international minutes, your phone is useless. My ipod, however, served as music, book, notes, camera, and communication when I found wireless internet. It’s small and very versatile. When it really comes down to it, most electronics can be left at home. If you really want to “get away” that is your best option, but either way pack smart.