M.I.S.S. Jet Set: Pack Light or Pay Up

miss jet set
jet set

If you’re looking for reasons to commit to carry-on travel these days, look no further.

American Airlines recently announced that traveling with anything more than a carry on and one personal item will cost you. American Airlines is now charging $15 for the first checked bag. Most other airlines let you check one bag, but charge for the second checked bag. However, many airlines are seriously considering following the American Airlines lead and instituting a charge for the first checked bag as well.

Ladies, I say that the thought of paying even MORE money for a flight is a great motivator to see just how compactly we can pack our carry-on bags!

Here are a few tips to help you streamline your carry-on packing:

* Make a list, and check it twice. It may seem like too much trouble but planning your packing can keep you from overpacking (and paying higher fees at the airport), and it can ease your mind about forgetting crucial items. Throw the packing list in the carry-on and check things off when you’re ready to come home to make sure you don’t leave anything behind.

* Invest in a good carry-on bag. Dig out your tape measure and go shopping! You’re looking for a bag no larger than 45″ total, or dimensions of about 22″ x 14″ x 9″. Look for those with an easy-access front compartment to hold your quart-sized liquids ziplock bag. Bright colors or patterns are a good choice for easy identification.

* Scale back on the electronics. If you normally carry a laptop, cell phone, PDA, iPod, digital camera, voice recorder and noise machine (I’m guilty of this), consider investing in an ultra-light new laptop (Apple’s MacBook Air is a great option) and an “all-in-one” cell phone (Palm’s Centro and Treo phones are very well-rounded). Buy an extra charger for each and keep them packed in a ziplock bag in your carry-on.

Read the rest of the tips after the jump . . .

* Reading materials. If you simply MUST have books with you when you travel, think seriously about a digital book like the Sony Reader which can hold up to 160 ebooks. It’s much more compact than bulky print books; you can slip it inside your purse. Several sites like The Gutenberg Project offer ebook downloads for free, and many online bookstores that offer current bestsellers for a low price like EBooks.com.

* Compress your clothing. Compression packing bags help pack clothing compactly and keep it smelling fresh. TravelSmith sells several types of large compression bags made like ziplock bags. They’re easy to use and you can keep an extra in your luggage for dirty clothes.

* Think like a cheapskate. Hang on to all the single-use packets of shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, perfumes, lotions and moisturizers you can find, and slip these into your carry-on instead of traditional 3 oz. travel sizes. They take up less room and you don’t have bulky packaging on the way home. Sephora and DHC Skincare are great places to find these; each offers “you choose ’em” free samples with every order.

* Don’t carry what you don’t need. Unless you’re staying in a real fleabag hotel, you won’t likely need to pack a hairdryer or a travel iron (call the hotel if you have questions, though). Instead of your electric toothbrush, stick with a less-bulky manual model. A good appliance to keep with you, however, is a narrow (less than 2″) hair straightening iron. Not only can it smoothe your locks, it can double as a travel iron if you have a few small wrinkles you need handled.

* Get your makeup back to basics. Create a tiny travel makeup kit to keep packed in your carry-on bag. Here’s mine: Japonesque Silhouette Brush Set (the case has space that doubles as a makeup case), Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 45 Moisturizer, Benefit Dr. Feelgood Balm (used as a makeup primer – good for eyelids and lips as well), Jane bePure Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation, an e.l.f. Cosmetics 4-Pan Compact with three eyeshadows in fairly neutral colors (Dusk, Pink Ice and Ivory) and one blush (Glow), Jane EyeZing Shadow in Brownie Points (I use it as an eyeshadow, liner and brow powder), Kiss Me Mascara in Black (waterproof but doesn’t require makeup remover), Sally Hansen Maximum Moisture Lip Treatment in Clear Fawn, and five Biore Daily Cleansing Cloths (I cut them in half ahead of time – 1/2 the cloth is more than enough to remove makeup and clean skin). Everything fits in the brush case, no problem.

* Dress like a savvy traveler. Matte jersey is a traveling woman’s best friend. American Apparel offers great basics in tons of colors, and these are perfect essentials to keep in your carry-on. Pack pieces that coordinate and keep a small jewelry case stocked with accessories to freshen your look. Shoes? Always wear your biggest pair of shoes on the plane to save room in your luggage. If you need a jacket, also wear that on the plane so you can free up space in your suitcase.

Happy travels!


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