Airplane Packing Tricks

I’m on the road a lot this month, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about packing all the worldly possessions I need to survive away from home. And since I neglected to schedule myself a post for this month until this very morning, packing for events is what you get to hear about today. Yay, right?

Here’s what a Jodi-author carries with her on tour:

A carry-on suitcase (the biggest the airlines will allow while still calling it a carry on), and a duffle bag. It used to be my suitcase and a purse, and then I noticed a mom with a diaper bag and a) became very jealous of her giant bag, and b) realized I could put bags inside of bags.

In the suitcase:

  • A tote bag with my box of swag inside. It’s pretty heavy, so it goes on the bottom, or tucked into the bottom side along the telescoping handle tubes. I just wrap the top of the bag and the handles around everything to keep it in place. The whole bag comes with me to signings, so extra signing stuff goes in here too — my copy of Incarnate, quote cards, whatever else I need to bring.
  • Compressible bags with different kinds of clothing in each. Shirts in one, pants in one, underthings in one. Though now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I should get more of these bags and separate entire outfits by days. This would be useful for trips with multiple stops. Hmmm.
  • I always carry at least one extra of all the clothes I need, just in case something horrible happens. And speaking of emergencies, I always include Feminine Supplies, a small first-aid kit, and a back-up battery for my phone.
  • Since I usually wear knit socks, and those are a little bulkier than store socks, I stuff those into the corners of my bag when it’s all packed. Shoe people would manage to fit shoes in here. I feel lucky when I get to an event and I am wearing sneakers.
  • Two vacuum bags. They’re just the Ziplock kind that you can press the air out of (I do this by sitting on them), but they’re really handy for keeping dirty laundry separate. I’m going to admit, on longer trips, I fold my laundry before putting it in there, but that’s because it compresses better than if I just shove it all in there.
  • My human form / aka makeup.
  • And in one of the outside pockets — my bag of liquids. I have a reusable quart bag with a zipper that’s pretty sturdy and fits perfectly in the top compartment.


  • I don’t have three ounces of anything in there; all my liquid containers are either in one- or two-ounce leakproof, BPA-free bottles, some with wide tops, others with narrow.
  • I wear contacts (gas perms, which require more liquids than soft or toric lenses), so I have to make sure I can fit a lot in there. I have dropper bottles for my contact stuff, but since they have flip tops and I’m afraid they’ll leak, I replace the flip tops with a solid screw top and change them over when I reach my destination.
  • If I’m going to be somewhere for a longer period of time that will require more, say, shampoo, then I usually will go in with my travel-mates to buy a bottle. But that only works if we’re going to stay in the same place for a while.
  • I get as many things in non-liquid form as I can. So makeup remover, even though I use a liquid or semisolid at home, I bring face wipes when I travel. If I had any dry shampoo that worked well for me (the quest continues), I’d probably bring that, too.

In my duffle bag:

  • Computer in its sleeve, with charging cables for it and my phone (as well as my headphones).
  • My purse. Sometimes, once I get through security, I’ll move my hand sanitizer and other small purse liquids back here, that way I can access them without wrestling with the overhead bins.
  • My knitting bag with a small project inside. On my last trip, I taught two people to knit socks.
  • A BPA-free leak-proof plastic bottle so I can fill it up with water rather than buying a bottle of water once I get through security.
  • A book or two.
  • A light sweater or cardigan, and perhaps one of those neck pillows if it’s a long/overnight flight.
  • Everything goes in the same place every time, that way I can find things while I’m on the plane without having to look.

Packing started out as an elaborate game of Tetris, and while I’m sure there are still a lot of improvements I could make to my routine, I have definitely gotten better at this since I first started out!

What about you guys? Any great tricks you want to share?

4 Responses to Airplane Packing Tricks

  1. Jadi Campbell Apr 11 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    Packing started out as an elaborate game of Tetris…. that’s it! That’s it exactly! And then at some point it becomes deadly earnest as you weigh each item in your hand….

    • Jodi Apr 11 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      Oh my gosh, yes. So far that hasn’t been a problem for me, because as long as me and my skinny arms can lift the bag, no one looks twice, but I do keep looking for lighter and lighter stuff to organize.

  2. ken f. Apr 13 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Pack or wear on the first day of travel (if no one important is going to see you) “end of use” clothing, clothes which are either so worn out that they’re ready for the trash or are fashion mistakes. The general idea is to take clothing which, for whatever reason, isn’t going to make the trip back home with you. You can leave it behind in your hotel room with a note to the maid to take it, or drop it at a charity which might be convenient. Wherever you leave it, leave it. The more you leave, the lighter your bag home will be. Or you can buy new clothes on the road, wearable memories of the writer’s journey.

  3. Alexa S. Apr 14 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    I always try to test pack my stuff a week before my trips! I like to make sure that I’m not overweight, particularly if I’m going to be the one who has to lug all my stuff around. I also bring a lot of the same things you do, especially when it comes to extras and bags for luggage 😉 Also, I like making check lists! It helps me make sure that I get everything I need packed. Happy travels, Jodi!

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