person packing suitcase

Most airlines now charge fees for checked bags. And many travelers have responded by packing everything into a carry-on bag. This is smart. Besides avoiding airline fees, there are many advantages to packing efficiently and traveling light – even if you travel by car, bus or train.

For one thing, the more you take along, the more stuff you have to schlep through airport terminals, security, rental car lots and sometimes city streets. Lugging more of your belongings also raises the likelihood something will get lost, stolen, forgotten or confiscated. Here are some efficient packing tips to maximize your space and minimize the hassle.

Packing a suitcase

Packing light demands efficiency – making the best use of space in your suitcase. Some tips for efficient packing:

  • Check the weather at your destination. Will you need sweaters and jeans, or shorts and t-shirts?
  • Pick clothes in the same color family so they mix and match, allowing you the most flexibility with the fewest pieces.
  • Take travel sizes of your favorite toiletry brands with reusable bottles of 3.4 oz or less. TSA requires all carry on fluids, gels and creams to fit in one quart-size clear plastic bag.
  • Use binder clips to organize your USB cables/chargers and razor.
  • Place small items in a sunglasses case.
  • Limit yourself to three pair of shoes – casual loafers or sandals, sneakers and a dressy pair.
  • Place a rolled up belt in the collar of a dress shirt; stuff shoes with socks, sunglasses, or electronics chargers.
  • Roll your clothes to use less space.
  • Wear your heaviest clothes and shoes on the trip to keep your bag lighter.
  • Think about a compression bag for bringing home dirty clothes in as little space as possible.

Carry-on baggage limitations

Although carry-on baggage size and weight restrictions differ among domestic airlines, you should be well within the limits if your carry-on bag is no more than 45 linear inches (total of the height, width and depth of the bag) and about 40 pounds, depending on the airline.

Also, remember it's not just airlines that have baggage limits. Both Greyhound and Amtrak have baggage restrictions, including 50-pound weight limits for checked bags. Before you start packing for your trip, check with your carrier about their specific baggage guidelines. And remember to leave room for souvenirs!

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Nationwide offers this information to help you make decisions that may help you mitigate your risk. Of course, we can't address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that you will consider which of these may help you in your efforts to protect your family and yourself.