One of the fine arts of traveling is mastering the pack for air travel. My friends and I get nerdy about it and revel in the glory we feel when baggage fees are averted. Here are my rules/tips for a great pack & smooth flight to Europe.
- Keep it light! When choosing clothing, go practical over fashion. You likely only need one coat that is seasonally appropriate. To save room in your baggage wear your coat and bulkiest shoes through airport security and keep it out of your bag.
- Pack a lightweight duffel bag in your suitcase. Choose one you can scrunch up in your luggage in case you need to shuffle around items or you buy too many souvenirs. Inter-continental European flights tend to be small planes and have more restrictions on the weight of baggage. Having an extra duffle will help you even out the weight or possibly combine forces with your traveling companion to avoid fees.
- Bring a pen. You’ll need it to fill out forms for immigration & customs.
- Put your carry-on items in the overhead compartment. There’s nothing worse than having your knees stuck to your chest for 8 hours because you couldn’t part with your laptop, ipod, jacket, book, magazines. Take something reasonable out of your bag that you will use and leave the rest overhead.
- Purchase a Euro or UK power adapter (depending on where you are going) before your trip or at the airport. Most cell phones and laptops work 110-240V but not all electronic devices so an adaptor is very handy. If your device isn’t rated up to 240V, don’t use it. You can always purchase a step-down power converter for travel but they can be a little heavy.
- Put your smart phone in Airplane mode and turn off all GPS and data sources. I bring a cheap £20 phone I bought in Scotland with a pay-as-you-go plan that I use to communicate with friends I meet overseas. My travel mates and I set up regular meeting times so we can split up and have traveled weeks without phones.
- Pack a little snack for your flight! If an airline offers in-flight meals for purchase they don’t always have enough for everyone. Avoid having to chew on the Sky Mall magazine.
- Put luggage tags on everything! Traveling is disorienting and you’re bound to forget something one of these days.