Flying Soon? How to Pack

I travel more than 150,000 miles each year. 

That means I go through TSA checkpoints, the lining up and boarding process and the scramble for overhead bin space almost 150 times each year.

Factor in the reality that most flights are delayed at least a bit, and it all adds up to a crazy routine.

With five million miles and counting on American Airlines - just writing that makes me tired - I've developed a streamlined packing routine

#1 - A Solid Carry-on

If you don't travel frequently, an inexpensive and well-organized bag is all you need.  Frequent travelers may want something more heavy-duty.  Bonus: carry-ons can have a long life, since you rarely check them and give airlines the chance to crush or damage them. 

I love this 21" Travelpro.  The only downside is that many crew members carry the same bag.  So, in addition to luggage tags, I use these hot pink handle wraps to avoid mix-ups. (Photos courtesy of Flight Attendant Shop).

 

#2 - Go Cheap on Handbags

I love cute accessories, but anything you stuff underneath an airplane seat will show wear very quickly.  My travel totes and purses are affordable and stylish pieces from places like Target, Sam's Club and Burlington Coat Factory.

#3 - Plan Before You Pack

Consider your schedule, and pack specifically for those activities - nothing more.  Better yet, create your own capsule wardrobe so everything will mix and match.  Pack scarves and jewelry to accessorize, and leave the bulky shoe wardrobe at home.  With this plan, my husband and I each took just one small carry-on bag on a 10-day trip to Israel last summer.

#4 - Keep the Laptop and Ziploc Bag Accessible

Don't be that person who causes a backup in security lines while you dig for your laptop and that bag of toiletries.  Even if, like me, you are part of the PreChek program for expedited screening, those lanes are sometimes closed and you end up in a line where you have to remove these items from you bag.

What tips do you have for packing and getting through the airport smoothly?