How to Pack Like a Pro

Pack Like a Pro

Fly through the air with the greatest of ease using these smart packing tips.

It’s been said that there are two kinds of travelers in the world: those who overpack and those who don’t. The latter half includes everyone from seasoned travel pros to easygoing types who don’t mind flying by the seat of their pants, but they share a common bond: a distaste for extra baggage fees. No matter how you like to fly, read on to arrive in style like a true travel pro.

Plan In Advance

It’s easy to feel stressed and forget things when the clock is ticking down toward your departure, so consider making a simple packing checklist a day or two in advance and following it as you pack the night before you leave. Sure, you may need to set aside a few essentials to use up until the last minute, like toothbrush/toothpaste or other personal care products, but checking off a list as each item enters your bag is a foolproof way to zip it all up and take off with confidence.

Of course, always keep travel regulations in mind when you pack — most importantly, get up to date on your country’s current limits for liquids in your carry-on. and stick to the rules to avoid delays or disappointments while going through airport security. Bring a reusable water bottle if you’d like, but empty it out before you approach the security line. Many countries, including the US, require liquids (think shampoo, lotion, mouthwash) to be placed in a clear plastic bag for easy screening, so plan ahead if you want to move through security checkpoints smoothly and avoid frustrating your fellow travelers, too. 

Simplify and Strategize

Every traveler has a preferred way to pack: some just fold and go, some use a specific method like rolling or bundling their clothes, and others swear by packing cubes to compress their clothing and open up more room in their bags. Which method you choose is completely up to you; rolling is great for those who want to stay packed on the go and grab each day’s wardrobe at a glance, while bundling is a more complex way to keep clothes mostly flat in transit, requiring some extra work to get to what you need once you arrive.

Regardless of your go-to method, it’s always wise to put heavy-duty items like a toiletry bag, umbrella, shoes, and jeans toward the bottom of a suitcase, near the wheels, and keep lighter items like shirts and dresses toward the top. This decreases the likelihood of your clothes getting wrinkled in transit; with heavier items down below, your more delicate items are less likely to get squished up top, even with a bit of jostling by airport personnel.

Another smart rule of thumb to save room in your bags is to wear the bulkiest pair of shoes you’re traveling with — boots or athletic shoes, for example — on travel days and pack lighter, smaller footwear for backup. 

Put Your Points to Work

If you need to bring extra clothing options to accommodate a whirlwind itinerary, pack gifts or extra items to accompany you on your travels, or just don’t feel like packing light, you may be able to avoid extra baggage fees by redeeming loyalty points and putting your purchasing power to work.

Take advantage of a Marriott Bonvoy membership, and for extra oomph, use traveler-friendly credit cards (Marriott Bonvoy offers a range of card options with Chase and American Express, for example) to turn your points into perks like free travel upgrades. Keep an eye out for sign-up bonuses or, if you’re already accruing points, look up what’s available at your current value. If waived baggage fees or seat upgrades with extra bags are applicable, go ahead and enjoy those rewards.

After all, a little planning can go a long way — both in your suitcase and beyond.

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