This Training Center article is written by the editors of SNEWS®
In addition to creating up to 20 percent more space and keeping clothes wrinkle free, organizing clothes and other luggage items with packing cubes, small stuff sacks, compression bags and garment folding systems can make bag searches at check-in or boarding gates run as smoothly as possible. If your customer is lucky enough to get flagged for a search (and some of us are certainly more lucky than others), instead of having security wrestle through loose clothes and leaving luggage contents looking like an unsuccessful yard sale, an organized packing system keeps clothing and travel items in order. In the end, surprise searches are faster, tidier and less stressful for both parties involved.
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Make it smaller
For bulky items, such as sweaters, jackets and even mounds of clothing that won't mind if a few wrinkles get factored in, a clear, plastic compression bag is an ideal packing organizer. Load it up, squeeze all the air out, and presto -- the volume is reduced by half in many cases. Recommend they pack one along to create extra room for the return trip for those inevitable souvenirs.
Cubes come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost every size of luggage and packing need. Some have breathable mesh on one side and a spill-proof mesh liner on the other. Fill the mesh open side with rolled up socks, underwear, T-shirts, etc. As items get worn and dirty, they get loaded onto the other, more sealed side until laundry time.
Color-code cubes for your customer, so they can readily identify undies on one, workout gear in another, and miscellaneous items in another. Mesh cubes make it much easier to get through security checkpoints fast if a hand inspection is called for.
Taking a page out of high-end clothiers, good packing folders contain a folding board that will help your customer fold their clothes correctly, flat and wrinkle-free. Once items are folded, they are simply stacked inside the folder, with pants, jackets and skirts on the bottom and dress shirts on top. Collars should be alternated, facing them in opposite directions. This will keep the folder balanced. With the folding board slipped on top and the packing folder secured with Velcro, your customer's clothing will remain essentially wrinkle-free and ready-to-wear upon arrival, even if tossed loosely into a duffel or travel pack. Mixing the colors if more than one folder per person or family is purchased is a good idea to readily identify whose folder is whose without a need for rummaging.
Help your customer think small here. We've seen toiletry kits that are large enough to require wheels just to get them from the luggage to the bathroom -- not ideal. This is the perfect time to sell your customer on a selection of accessory bottles with flip tops and screw-on tops -- 2-ounce to 4-ounce maximum capacity. These will be used to pack along sufficient shampoo, conditioner, potions, lotions and pills to last the duration of your customer's trip. Toiletry kits should be compact, offer organizer pockets, and stow efficiently and securely into the luggage without taking up too much room. They should also protect the contents of the luggage should a bottle inadvertently develop a need to leak its contents -- hair conditioner all over the inside of the luggage is not a travel highlight.
Quick tip: Carry all shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, etc., in small bottles, and never fill them to the very top since reduced pressure in airplane's cargo holds can cause them to explode. This will also help your customer conserve space in their toiletry kit.
Your customer will learn the value of a shoe sack the first time they attempt to mix a smelly, dirty shoe from a long run or walk, with clean, previously uncontaminated clothing in the same luggage -- results are not pleasant. Shoe sacks keep the dirt contained and also prevent shoes, if they are packing dress shoes, from becoming knicked or scuffed by zippers and sharp edges inside the luggage.
Mesh Ditty Bags
Mesh ditty bags come in a variety of sizes and styles, and are perfect for putting laundry in to protect them and keep items together for that trip to the Laundromat. Mesh ditty bags are also ideal for stowing and organizing socks, underwear, and as just-in-case bags for last-minute packing needs that inevitably come up.
A document organizer is a great place to put passports, visas, tickets and traveler's checks -- as long as your customer has a safe place to keep all those items and that means NOT in their luggage or an outside pocket of a daypack.
Tip: Tell your customer to hide photocopies of all of their key documents in another spot. A great option if your customer will have Internet access is to email scanned copies of all their documents to themselves (and leave them on the server), so they have copies accessible online anytime. But remember, emailing won't work if they download their email before leaving and, as a result, receive their email with documents attached on their home computer.