top 50 packing tips
Know the rules
1. Note the number of bags you can check in. In most cases it is one piece per person. You can check up to eight on easyJet but don’t get caught out: their combinied weight still must not exceed 20kg (44lb).
2. Some airlines, such as Ryanair and easyJet, charge for checked luggage but you can cut costs by paying online rather than at the airport.
3. The weight limit for checked luggage in economy varies from airline to airline but is usually about 20-25kg (44-55lb). Exceed the limit, and you will have to pay extra (a hefty £12 per kg on Ryanair).
4. Save precious pounds by taking an extra light suitcase. Antler’s Size Zero range includes “the world’s lightest structured large roller-case”, weighing in at just under 8lb (about £149 from most good luggage departments).
I daren’t travel light – I might be invited to a palazzo
05 Aug 2013
More travel advice from the experts
01 Aug 2008
M & S Luggage: Good buy guide
12 May 2008
Summer savings: airport cost-cutting
04 Jul 2008
Motorised suitcase to end baggage woes
26 Jun 2008
Ryanair considers ‘zero-bag’ flights to reduce fuel costs
29 Jul 2008
5. If you suspect your baggage might tip over the limit on your return, weigh it before you get to the airport with a hand-held digital scale (Lakeland sells one for £19.99; www.lakeland.co.uk).
6. You can again take more than one item of hand luggage through security in British airports, but size restrictions remain: no larger than 56cmx45cmx25cm. For further information, visit www.dft.gov.uk.
7. Gels, creams, pastes and other liquids in your hand luggage must still be in containers of no more than 100ml and placed in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 20cmx20cm.
8. The liquid restriction does not apply air-side, so buy anything you will need in larger quantities once you have gone through security.
9. Send your luggage ahead with a company like Carrymyluggage (www.carrymyluggage.com). It is not cheap (about £70 a bag) but at least you won’t have to mess about with plastic bags or weighing your suitcase.
10. Some of the upmarket hotel groups offer a similar service. The Luxury Collection Hotels of India (www.luxurycollection.com), for example, has a Luggage Liaison service that collects your case from your house, delivers it to your hotel, and will even unpack for you, too.
Buy the right case
1. The life of a suitcase is about 10 years, and a good one will come with a guarantee for failure of parts such as zips, wheels and handles.
2. As with everything else, you get what you pay for. Expensive models are generally better designed and have better-quality components. Unfortunately, they are just as likely to be lost in transit.
3. It is a fallacy that a designer suitcase will secure you an upgrade —but it might attract a thief.
4. Size is crucial: too large, and your case won’t fit into the boot of a taxi or hired car; too small, and you will be sitting on the lid to close it, which will shorten its life. An expandable 26in (66cm) case is ideal for two weeks.
5. Two wheels or four? Four tend to make larger cases easier to manoeuvre, particularly if each wheel swivels rather than being locked into position. Wheeling is not always possible, so ensure you are able to lift your packed case up a flight of stairs.
6. Samsonite’s new Spinners range (from £165) takes wheel technology a step further: not only do cases have double wheels at each corner, but, like an F1 car, the wheels at the back are larger than those at the front and there is a handbrake. For stockists, call 01322 385169.
7. Live Luggage’s new power-assisted case is even more impressive: internal motors fitted to each wheel make the 94-litre case feel as light as a feather, even when you are pulling it uphill. From £700 at www.liveluggage.com.
8. Handles should be long enough to tow comfortably and preferably pop-up rather than pull-up. Avoid leashes: you will end up dragging your case along on its side.
9. Hard- or soft-sided? A hard shell can add 10lb in dead weight but does offer contents more protection from damage, thieves and sudden downpours. But a soft-sided case will look smarter for longer and is less unwieldy when storage space is limited.
10. Seventy per cent of suitcases on any given carousel are black. A coloured luggage strap or piece of ribbon tied to the handle will make your black case easier to identify.
How to pack and unpack
1. “When you figure out your suitcase, you figure out your life,” fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said recently. Yet according to a recent suvey by the Post Office, 37 per cent of holidaymakers admit to being disorganised packers, with women (55 per cent) finding it harder to pack than men – no wonder, as almost a third of women pack for their husbands, too.
2. Fold, roll or bundle? Wrap in tissue or plastic? Whichever method you use, the key is not to over-pack: squashed clothes are creased clothes — the same is true of garments that are too loosely packed.
3. The website www.butlerbureau.com has video instructions on how to fold a T-shirt and pack a suitcase. Go to YouTube to see Mr Bean demonstrating how not to do it.
4. Do not put wrapped gifts in checked luggage. If your case is opened for inspection, wrapping may have to be removed. And put heavy items, such as shoes, just above the wheels.
5. You can reduce creases at your destination by hanging items in a steamy bathroom, but you do have to persevere. Once clothing is slightly damp, give it a couple of sharp shakes and pull into shape.
6. Or invest in a travel iron (John Lewis sells one for about £12). An iron will also extend the number of times you can wear an item that is not actually dirty.
7. Alternatively, let the professionals pack for you. In London, Blossom and Browne (www.blossomandbrowne.com) offers a jet-set travel service. Give them a bag containing the clothes you want to take, and they will return it with its contents laundered, ironed, and properly packed. Or try upmarket concierge service Practical Princess (www.practicalprincess.com).
8. Another option is to throw everything in dirty and use your hotel’s laundry service. But never send anything delicate or liable to shrink to a Third-World laundry and always expect jeans to be returned with creases ironed down the front.
9. If you are travelling with young children, companies such as Tinytotsaway (01257 424241; www.tinytotsaway.com) or Bebebel (www.bebebel.com) will deliver baby products, food and heavy items to your destination.
10If you live in London and can’t face unpacking when you return home, you can drop your suitcase off at a branch of Jeeves of Belgravia (020 8809 3232; www.jeevesofbelgravia.co.uk). The company will unpack, sort, launder and dry-clean the contents, then deliver it all back to you.
Keep it safe
1. Airlines mislaid 42.4 million suitcases last year, reason enough never to put anything you would hate to lose in your checked luggage.
2. A suitcase is easily parted from its luggage label. Always put a second one, with details of your flight and destination, inside.
3. If two or more people are travelling, split belongings between checked luggage so if one case goes missing, each of you will still have a change of clothes.
4. Try not to check in late: even if you make it on to the flight, your luggage might not.
5. Always lock your checked bags: an unlocked suitcase could invalidate your insurance.
6. If you are travelling to America, you must use cases fitted with TSA-approved locks (those that the Transportation Security Administration has the tools to open) or a TSA-approved padlock or luggage strap. For further details, visit www.tsa.gov.
7. You may be able to locate lost luggage more quickly by using a tracking service. Tag’n’Traq, operated by CallUma, supplies laminate tags with unique tracking numbers and a 24-hour contact number. The service costs £4.95 a year; further details at www.calluma.com.
8. Blacks outdoor shops (www.blacks.co.uk) sells a 50-litre wheeled bag for £54.99 that comes with a year’s free iTRAK, a luggage tracking system similar to Tag’n’Traq.
9. You are far less likely to lose your luggage if you use a collection and delivery service such as First Luggage (www.firstluggage.com; from about £85). It sends everything via FedEx and tracks it with the latest technology.
10. Put a “Find-it” tracking device in your case – although as it costs £2,175 (from www.spycatcheronline.co.uk), it would probably be cheaper to replace the lost case and its contents.
If the worst comes to the worst
1. Take heart: 85 per cent of all lost luggage is found within 48 hours.
2. If your case has not appeared by the time the carousel stops, check the tag of any unclaimed case similar to yours. Someone may have mistaken your case for theirs.
3. If your luggage is missing – even if you are told it is on the next flight – you must fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before you leave the airport.
4. Find out how much the airline will compensate you for immediate supplies. Some airlines will hand out cash; others will offer a refund for purchases, so keep the receipts.
5. Limit your purchases to essentials. If your bag turns up, you may not be able to claim the full amount of compensation, even if you have already spent it.
6. If your bag is not found, you must make your claim for compensation from an airline in writing within seven days.
7. The maximum you can hope to receive from an airline for your lost suitcase is about £300: compensation is based on weight and is about £15 per kg, regardless of the value of the contents.
8. You may do better claiming on your travel insurance, but check the small print: some companies do not cover checked luggage and you will still need to produce a PIR.
9. Not all insurance companies offer new-for-old replacements when it comes to clothing, even if it promises “up to £1,500” for lost luggage. Again, check the small print.
10. In Britain, luggage not reunited with its owner within 100 days is auctioned for charity. You can attend the auctions at Greasbys in