If you don’t have a story about suitcases and airports, than you’ve either never traveled or you’re extremely lucky. Almost everyone I know has some sort of experience where the two didn’t mix.
And, of course, we are no exception. Though I have several stories to choose from, I think our most memorable experience involved trying to re-pack 3 different suitcases at the check in desk. Somehow we mis-distributed weight when we repacked our suitcases on the return leg of our trip. In fact, I’m confident we got caught up in squeezing the last minutes out of our trip and packing was done in a matter of minutes. I don’t remember giving a second thought to the weight of our suitcases until we were standing there with a line behind us facing hefty fees. Trust me when I say, you’ve never really traveled until you’ve dumped out all your dirty laundry on the airport floor!
Regardless of your suitcases and airports story, keeping these 5 simple tips in mind will help save you a lot of hassle and stress:
- Rules: It’s important to know ALL the rules before you head to the airport. Even if you’ve traveled recently, it’s always a good idea to review. I’ve found the rules change without warning and counting on past experiences doesn’t work. For example, a bag I’d carried onto numerous flights was suddenly over the size limit and I was forced to check my bag (with a charge.) You will want to specifically know how many bags you are allowed to check and their max weight. It’s also important to find out any carry-on regulations.
- Moderate: Our family prefers to travel with moderately priced suitcases. While we feel like a quality bag is important to protect our luggage, we also realize airline travel can be rough on the bag itself. Even pricy suitcases will get torn up and/or dirty from frequent travel and will need to be replaced. Likewise, cheap suitcases do not hold up at all. So for us, it makes sense to invest in moderately priced suitcases and budget to replace them as necessary.
- Liquids: I’m sure by now most people are familiar with the TSA liquid rules (side note: it’s crazy to me that my kids have never know a time when non-ticketed passengers could walk out to the gates and gallons of liquid could be packed in a carry-on!) But one mistake I’ve seen a lot of people make is not packing their liquids carefully in checked suitcases. Always put your liquids in a sealed plastic bag (ziplock) and pack on the interior of your suitcase (not in an outside pocket.) This protects the liquids from bursting as bags are stacked and prevents disaster in the event that it does leak.
- Extras: If you travel with kids, it’s a good idea to invest in suitcases or protective covers for the extra items you bring on airlines. I do recommend flying with carseats if you are able. (Read why, here and here.) However, if you are checking your car seat (it’s free), you will want something to protect it. Likewise, you’ll want to protect your stroller and any other kid paraphernalia that the airlines might be handling.
- Uniqueness: There is nothing worse than staring at the baggage claim carrousel and realizing that every bag on there looks exactly like yours. If you are able, choose brightly colored suitcases when you make the purchase. But, you can also dress up a black or navy suitcase with some simple colored ribbon. Be sure your contact information is clearly written on both the outside of your suitcase and on the inside (in case the outside luggage tag becomes detached.)
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