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Q&A: Guru Offers Packing and Baggage Tips + Giveaway

Unlike travelers who loathe slapping down extra cash for baggage fees, I am thankful for them. Yes, thankful. It’s as if the airlines were speaking to me when they began charging for those checked bags. They were saying to me, “Jennifer, stop packing so many shoes.” You call it an inconvenience. Nickel and diming. Poor customer service. I call it tough love. Really, do you need anything more than a carry-on bag? I’m currently on a 10-day trip that includes stops in San Diego, Phoenix and Dallas, and I say, “No checked bag needed.”

Kelly Vrtis, resident packing guru at The Container Store, would agree that you don’t need anything more than a carry-on bag — if you create a plan and invest in products that make packing easier. I asked Kelly to share her top packing tips with readers, and here’s what she tells us.

@windowseatblog: What are your top tips for the over packer?
Before you start any journey, research the conditions and requirements for your trip. Make a checklist of the things you absolutely need and start packing. Allow yourself plenty of time so you don’t forget necessary items or hurriedly over pack with things you don’t need. If you travel frequently, create a packing list on your computer that you can update to include “must-haves” and blank space for trip specific items.

Editor’s Tip: For more tips on packing light, check out 10 Great Packing Tips from The Window Seat archives.

@windowseatblog: How do you choose the luggage that’s right for you? @containerstore: You typically need more than one kind of luggage for different styles of travel. Business travelers may need to consider luggage that can hold both professional and personal items – including a laptop. Families may opt for an oversized bag that can hold everyone’s stuff. Adventure seekers look for rugged and durable bags to withstand extra handling. You must also consider the different sizes of luggage – do you want to carry-on your luggage or would you prefer to check it? A consideration for ANY travel needs is to select a bag that’s lightweight. All of our luggage weighs 9-1/2 pounds or less. We have a helpful tool called our Luggage Selector – plus a helpful Luggage Comparison Chart – that can help you identify the bag that’s right for your needs.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t forget to check your airline’s size and weight limits for both carry-on and checked bags to avoid oversized bag fees.

@windowseatblog: What are your favorite carry-ons for those of us who want to avoid checked bag fees?
@containerstore: Do we have to choose? Our Eagle Creek® 22″ Hovercraft Wheeled Luggage is THE BEST! We’ve sold Eagle Creek® products for years and years – the durability and construction is second to none. This bag weighs just 7 lbs. 6 oz.!  We also really love the 21″ Sidewinder Rolling Luggage. It has four swiveling wheels, so it’s easy to maneuver – even down the aisle of an airplane. We recommend organizing your belongings in both of these bags with our Eagle Creek® Pack-It System.

Editor’s Tip: Make sure you board early to get a spot for your bag in the overhead bins, or risk having to gate check your carry-on.

@windowseatblog: Do you have any genius solutions for preventing wrinkles? @containerstore: YES! We never leave home without Eagle Creek® Pack-It® Folders. It’s a clothing compression system that not only saves space inside your luggage, it reduces wrinkles. The shifting of clothes inside of your luggage is actually what causes the most wrinkles. (You can see a video of how these work on our Web site.) If you travel with a garment bag, place each garment inside of a plastic dry cleaning bag to reduce wrinkles.

Organized Traveler Getaway Giveaway

Vote for your favorite Organized Travel Gal and be entered to win our Organized Traveler Getaway Giveaway! One winner will receive a complete set of luggage and clothing organizers, plus a trip for two (2) to one of four fabulous destinations, compliments of The Container Store and Travelocity. The Organized Travel Gal with the most votes will take an adventure with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome.


My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!


Wire Free Home Security

I just got back from a quick trip. I wish I would have read this article before I packed and left. I’m a terrible over packer.

Thanks for the tips!

Dian An

I roll all my clothes and use a soft sided carry on,light weight easy rinse clothes and wear my jacket and heaviest shoes, Travel for days like this,

Kathy Shaper

I find that there is a huge difference in the luggages that only have 2 wheels and the ones that have 4. The ones with 4 wheels are MUCH more pleasant and lighter, as you don’t have to drag as much of the weight.

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