Packing Essentials

Before I had this job I spent a lot of time on the road. Whether it was road tripping between Vermont and the South (that 24 hour drive to Arkansas is no joke) or flying all over, I developed a packing system that has served me well as a Flight Attendant. My system has continued to evolve over the past six months of this new life, and I'm sure I'll refine it even more as the seasons change.

For now, here is my current packing advice:

1. Maximize your carry on situation.
     This means traveling with only a carryon sized rolling bag (unless you're LITERALLY moving somewhere), and your one personal item. Protip: I'd recommend that personal item be as large as is manageable in order to maximize your hauling capacity, and then stick a smaller purse with things you use inflight inside of it. Recommendations: The Lo & Sons OG with the Lo & Sons Pearl inside, or the more budget friendly option of the ebags Savvy Laptop Tote with the ebags Villa Cross Body inside.

2. Be smart about it.  
     When you're packing, make sure that you put everything that is absolutely essential (medications, identification documents, electronics, money) in your personal item- NOT in your rolling bag. Depending on the size of the aircraft, overhead bin space can be hard to come by and your rolling bag may very well need to be checked through to your final destination. Be a savvy traveler and have your 'must' items on your person. Don't be that annoying passenger who remembers they've checked their medication in the middle of the boarding process. I promise I'll do my best to help, but most of the time, there's nothing I can do once it's been tagged.
     Wear your bulkiest items. In winter, wear your heavy coat and over the knee boots while traveling. In the summer, wear your wedges. It saves you a ton of room in your bags so that you can fit plenty of packing cubes in there instead.
     Tag your bags. Put your name, phone number, town/state, and your applicable frequent flyer numbers on tags on and in your bag. Ideally make them bright enough that you can spot them from a distance and unique enough that they can help identify them if they get lost in the shuffle. I have two Luggage Tags by Lolo on my crew bags.

3. Organize within your bags - i.e. ORDER PACKING CUBES NOW.
     I am a Packing Cube evangelist, and I'm proud of it. Ever since I ordered these incredible tools five years ago, I've been spreading the word that they're absolute necessities when it comes to living out of a suitcase for any length of time, whether it's for a weekend or a month.
     Sometimes I pack individual outfits in each cube, sometimes a category of clothing (like shirts or dresses) into a cube, sometimes everything I'll need for the gym goes in one and everything for the pool (flip flips, bathing suit, sarong, sunscreen) goes in another. When I pack my mom and my little brother for one of their trips I use different colors to delineate whose clothes are whose so that they can share bags. You can sort them however it makes sense to you.
     Currently in my suitcase I have one for the gym, one for the pool, one for cold weather accessories, one for dresses, one for undergarments, one for tops, one for pants/skirts, and two shoe bags. When Crew Scheduling calls and tells me where I'm going, I might swap a bag or two out. For example, if they tell me I'm going to London I'll take out the pool and gym stuff and sub in extra socks and a blazer because I know I'll be walking all over a city instead of hitting the elliptical.
     In particular, I recommend the slim cubes, the small cubes, the shoe sleeves, and the Pack It Flat Toiletries Kit.


  1. Fabulous advice! You sum up all the lessons I've learned over 30+ years of frequent short and long trips. Another idea: if you can't wait for the packing cubes to arrive, ye olde large ziplock bag is a great friend. Get the heavy-duty freezer kind. And you can sit on them to squish out the air before you seal!

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