My 10 Air Travel Packing Hacks

Roll them and then line them up
Add the fragile between the cup
Club those creams in a single bag
Those are just few of my travel packing hacks

Packing tends to baffle a lot of travelers. For many, it is about what should I pack and for some, it is the anxiety of leaving something behind. Then there are some who are always worried about the number of luggage pieces and for many others, it is about not being able to stay within the weight limit of the airlines. Trust me, every seasoned traveler does have a part of packing that they find extremely overwhelming. Here are my 10 tried and tested Air Travel packing hacks that are bound to ease these discomforts.

Packing Hacks for Flying

My 10 Air Travel Packing Hacks
My 10 Air Travel Packing Hacks

My travel hacks for packing work across all types of travel. Be it sophisticated business travel or a fun solo trip or even a family holiday, you will find these packing tips handy. You don’t need anything fancy for following these luggage packing hacks. They can really work well with what you already have. So let’s begin.

1) Start with a travel packing list

Luggage Packing Hack - Make a packing list
Luggage Packing Hack – Make a packing list

It seems pretty basic but trust me, this is what makes the rest of your packing process easier. I have two such travel packing lists that I tend to follow based on the type of destination I plan to visit. One list takes care of all my beach holidays and the other is a winter packing list. In each of these lists, I have outlined the basic category of all things that I will need for my trip. Sharing this basic list here –

  • Outfits
  • Inner clothes
  • Shoes
  • Cosmetics
  • Jewellery & other accessories
  • Mobile chargers
  • Camera equipment
  • Beach equipment (swimsuit, snorkeling gear etc for my summer list)
  • Documents (tickets, passports, ID cards)
  • Water bottle
  • Electronic gadgets like hair dryers, hard disks, power banks, ear phones
  • First aid and medicine kit
  • Sunglasses
  • Sanitizers & masks (essential these days)

The only thing that is left for me to decide is the number of outfits that I need to pack – which of course, depends on my itinerary. For that, I tend to assume an outfit a day and then add the total with one extra set that I carry in case of an emergency.

2) Segregate your list and prune it

Populate the above packing list with the total number of clothes, specific accessories and equipment. Once you have done that, you need to start segregating it into two sections. The first is your list that will go in your carry-on luggage and the second is the one that goes into your check-in baggage.

Electronics like phones, battery packs, power banks have to be packed in your cabin bag
Electronics like phones, battery packs, power banks have to be packed in your cabin bag

For your carry-on baggage, keep aside most of your electronics like laptops, mobile chargers, cameras and power banks. These are anyway, not allowed in your check-in bag. I generally add a travel pillow, basic cosmetics and one set of clothes. I like keeping a spare pair just in case my check-in luggage is lost in transit.

The one electronic item that you need to ensure you pack in your check-in baggage is a drone (if you have one). The battery has to be disconnected and only that has to be added to your list of carry-on luggage. The actual drone has to be packed with your clothes.

Very often, during this segregation, you will realize that your list is unnaturally long and that there are too many things that you have included for your packing. This is the time when you can objectively look at the things that you have included and prune the list. Remember, you don’t need everything in your home for a holiday!

3) Choose the right luggage

Soft bags or hard tops? Knapsacks or trolley bags? These are pretty normal questions that one has. My personal favorite for air travel is the hard side luggage with the zips and four wheels. These are easy to pack, manage, and quite sturdy. I like them as both – carry-on luggage and check-in ones.

My Nasher Miles hard case bag for air travel
My Nasher Miles hard case bag for air travel

There are plenty of brands that offer you good hard-side luggage like Nasher Miles. The brand has a variety of offerings in terms of designs, sizes and colors. I, in fact, noticed them for their bright-colored pieces that stand out on any baggage belt. A friend who recently traveled with me to Sri Lanka had one of their Chennai super king bags. I actually managed to spot it being loaded onto our flight because of its bright colors.

It is easier to move around with a trolley bag
It is easier to move around with a trolley bag

The other advantage that I found with their carry-on hard case bags was the ease of movement in big airports. I usually keep my camera bag within this carry-on piece and that honestly, saves me from a backache. The cabin bags are suited for the overhead compartments in the flights and they may be ideal one-piece luggage for short weekend trips.

In a gist, consider the following points while picking your luggage.

  • Ease of moving around with your luggage
  • Storage space based on your list
  • Ease of segregation within the luggage space
  • Safety and security of your belongings

4) Space saving packing hacks – Roll, Roll and Roll

Roll your clothes instead of folding them. This is not just a tip for backpackers with those large knapsacks. It is one amazing space-saving packing hack for any air traveler too. Rolling also, helps minimize creases on your clothes.

Roll your clothes into sleek piles instead of folding them flat
Roll your clothes into sleek piles instead of folding them flat

I generally follow the Marie Kondo method of folding. That helps me create these tight piles that be arranged side by side in my hard case. The beauty of this arrangement is that you can see all your outfits in a single glance and when you pull out one from the pile, the others settle into the gap. This ensures that the arrangement in the suitcase is never spoilt.

Another one of the travel packing hacks that you can use with this method of folding is for delicate items like books or fragile items like glass curios. You can just insert them between your clothes and that protects them from any damage during your travel.

5) Luggage packing hacks – Use cloth bags or packing cubes

If you have packed in the above manner, you will have two neat rows of your clothes with a good gap between the two. You can use that gap to store your innerwear or large items like snorkeling gear/ tripod stand etc. I generally pack my innerwear in a small cloth bag and insert that entire bag into the space between the rows. A lot of you might have packing cubes that can replace my cloth bags.

6) Store those cosmetics in water proof bags

Pack your cosmetics and toiletries in water proof bags
Pack your cosmetics and toiletries in water proof bags

No one likes a leaky mess! Just to avoid them, pack your cosmetics in small waterproof zip locks or reusable plastic cases. Avoid taking those large bottles and stick to the pocket-sized ones. You can always buy some if you run out of your stock. And if you are staying in hotels, then you definitely don’t even need to bring out your own stock.

I like keeping these water-proof packed bottles in the mesh pockets of my suitcase.

7) Packing extra shoes

Usually, if you have packed well, one side of your suitcase will have a lot of space. This is where your extra shoes, neatly packed into shoe bags fit in. I do tend to have more than a pair for my travel. The packed set usually includes the lightest of the footwear. I usually wear my sports shoes/ trekking shoes while traveling – thus avoiding the bulk in the luggage.

8) Check the weight of your bag

This is actually an oft-overlooked air travel packing hack. If you have fitted it all into your chosen bag, you assume that you will be well within your weight limits. Sometimes, we do get a nasty shock when you land at the check-in counter to realize that you are overweight. It is best to check the weight of both your bags – check-in and cabin, at home. Cross-reference it with your airlines’ baggage allowance policy.

Always weigh your luggage before leaving for the airport
Always weigh your luggage before leaving for the airport

This is pretty important when you are traveling with low-cost airlines like Scoot Airways and some of those European carriers like Ryan Air. For these airlines, the baggage limits have to be bought. If you exceed the limits, then you are forced to shell out quite a bit to accommodate those extra kgs. Trust me, we had a crazy time flying from Italy to UK where we were just 2 kgs over the limit. To avoid those euros, we had to pull out the heavy winter wear and lug it along with us till we reached our destination.

9) Storing your electronics – one of the key air travel packing hacks

As mentioned, most of your data electronics like tabs, mobile phones, laptops, cameras, batteries and powerbacks have to be carried in your cabin bag. You will need to pack them such that they are easily removable for the security scan. I usually, pack them together in my camera bag and then store that one in the larger cabin bag. This helps me ensure that all the scannable items are removed at the right time and reduces the likelihood of a re-scan. Ultimately a shorter wait time at the security counter.

Most of your camera equipment will have to go in your cabin bag
Most of your camera equipment will have to go in your cabin bag

In my carry-on bag, I usually have a hairdryer as an additional electronic item. A lot of you might like carrying those travel irons or electronic shavers. All these are best added to the check-in luggage. As mentioned earlier, if you have a drone, detach the battery and then add it to your check-in. The battery has to be carried in your hand luggage.

Lock your bag

While most bags come with the number locks, I tend to avoid using those. I had the misfortune of the number combination being accidentally altered and that resulted in me having to break the lock. Since then, I use the traditional lock and key on the check-in bag. Is it necessary to lock the bag? I would say yes given the stories of luggage being ransacked in a few airports. So unless it has been specifically mentioned that one must not lock, I tend to be cautious.

Well, that’s it . Those are my travel hacks for packing that have always served me well. I am sure you will benefit from them as well. So go on and bookmark this post for your travel needs.

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P.S: This post has been written in association with Nasher Miles. However, all views and suggestions are truly my own!

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20 thoughts on “My 10 Air Travel Packing Hacks”

  1. Thanks for the useful article! We’re minimalists and digital nomads who travel often. We’ve already applied some of these hacks in our travels such as using packing cubes, rolling, segregating electronics from other items. But we do need to find a locking system for our backpack so thank you for that tip! You’re right that a traditional key and lock might be better.

  2. I appreciate these excellent packing tips, especially as I prepare for a summer tip. Funny, I never thought of using the Marie Kondo method of folding for my suitcase! I’m really excited to try this because my suitcase always ends up being a jumble and the idea of opening it to see everything neatly folded and visible at once (like I keep my dresser at home) is going to make things so much easier. I don’t know why I never thought of that myself!!

  3. Great tips for people. I have to agree with rolling your clothes, it saves space but also your clothes aren’t creased. I still haven’t tried packing cubes yet, though I see a lot of people recommend them. I agree that we should pack a spare pair of clothes in our carry on and all chargers etc, hopefully our bags will make it but who knows nowadays!!! Thanks for these hacks 🙂

    • Have had a few horror experiences after which it is like a mandate for me to carry at least one set of clothes in my handbag. Thanks for stopping by Clare.

  4. I totally need to start checking the weight of my bag, lol! Last trip my bag was 40 lbs when I left, and I was so scared to put it on the scale to come home. Luckily it was 49.5 – so close! I also need to try rolling my clothes.

  5. I only travel with ah and luggage so I know how important it is to use packing cubes and roll your clothes properly, in order to save space. I also make a list before each of my trips, so I don’t forget anything. There is nothing worse getting to a hot destination for example, but forgetting the sunscreen at home.

  6. These packing hacks all make sense. I especially like making a wish list and then pruning it! And the electronics stuff should really be carefully done and made accessible without easily losing anything.

  7. Great round-up of tips, I try and use these all when I travel. I don’t use packing cubes but do roll, it’s the best trick ever. I also have invested in a luggage scale. It’s saved me every time.

  8. I never thought about making a packing list. All this time I had the list in my mind, but I think it’s a good idea to write it down. I also agree with storing toiletries in a water proof bag. Leaking items happened to me before and it didn’t good at all.

  9. I love all your travel packing hacks! I used to roll all my clothes, and I have also switched to Marie Kondo’s method of folding. I like it better because I can see everything at once. I’m also hoping that with the new face mask rules that begin in April, I won’t have to worry about packing face masks anymore!

  10. Great tips! I agree with you that having a packing list is truly helpful. It’s also beneficial to use packing cubes and it will make your life really easy.

    Lastly, thank you for reminding us to lock! It’s super important!


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