Airline Travel – A.K.A. Fitting 10 Pounds into a 5 Pound Bag

Airline CabinYou thought you had trouble keeping your home organized; now you have to shrink your available space down to a mere 100th of that? With the airlines’ restrictions and charges on baggage, making efficient use of a 28”x 21”x 12” space (or smaller) will really exercise your organizing muscles! There are things you can do to make packing – whether for family vacation or summer camp – work better for you than it has in the past. Here’s how you can make the most of the little space you have (with partial thanks to AAA).


  1. Before you start, make sure you know the limits for size and weight of baggage for your airline, as well as how extra weight is charged. Is what you want to take essential? Can you buy it there?
  2. Start with shoes. Of course, take as few as possible. (If you can, wear the bulkiest shoes while you’re traveling.) Put shoes in the bottom of your case, on top of any books or papers you’re bringing. Stuff them with small or crushable items like socks or spray cans.
  3. Fold your clothes into the case; don’t fold them beforehand. Put them into the length of the case – start from the bottom of trousers, and from the top of shirts (fold from the top of trousers, and bottom of shirts); crisscross long-sleeves. Anything that you’re worried about getting wrinkled should be folded then rolled, and put down the sides of the case(not top or bottom where they could get crushed).
  4. Leave space on top for your toiletries bag. Allow half the length of the case and a good six inches deep.
  5. Underwear, hair brushes, hair dryer, chargers, lotions (in Ziploc bags) can be stuffed into the gaps on all four sides – you’ll be surprised how much you can get into these spaces.
  6. Use the inside lid mesh for thin or squash-able items like gloves, caps, bathing suits, etc. Include a plastic bag for dirty laundry.

And once you’re up, up and away…


  1. Unless you’ve made special arrangements with your carrier, keep your phone in airplane mode while out of the country so you don’t incur roaming charges. Use What’sApp to send pictures and video instead of texting, which incurs data charges.
  2. Did you know that there are apps for where to find restrooms? (Here at home it’s toilets.usa)
  3. Load Google Translate on your phone before you go; remember that it needs WiFi to operate.

Health and comfort:

  1.  Wear 15-20 mmHg compression socks on the plane to keep the circulation going in your legs (merino wool are best); they’re also good for walking and hiking.
  2.  To avoid jet lag, take a remedy – “No Jet Lag” (homeopathic) has had some great reviews.
  3.  If you have a cold or are generally bothered by reduced cabin pressure, take earplugs or “EarPlanes”.
  4.  Acupressure wrist bands are helpful for many who experience motion (and morning) sickness – the PSI brand has had good reviews on
  5.  Bring alternatives to bulky bottles of insect repellent, e.g. mosquito wrist and ankle bands.
  6.  Take a microfiber towel if you’ll be washing by hand a lot – roll the clothes in the towel and they’ll dry faster.
  7.  Keep coins handy for restrooms.

You’re all set!

Click here to learn more about the author, Ellia Ryan.

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