Thanks to the Christmas Day Crotchbomber and boneheaded terrorist-wannabes of his ilk, airport security is getting stricter and stricter. That means the more stuff you have, the more expensive your trip and the more hassle you’ll get during check-in. So forget the whole issue and follow our guide to packing for a whole week in just one carry-on bag, "Up in The Air" style.
Get the right bag
The absolute perfect carry-on bag is essential to hassle-free travel. Unfortunately, that bag doesn’t really exist. But there are a lot of nearly-perfect bags out there. Red Oxx makes a somewhat pricey but damn near perfect carry-on called the Air Boss ($225). Other options include the excellent Patagonia MLC ($160) and thePatagonia MLC Burrito ($180).
Get the right clothes
The two mantras for packing light are "wrinkle free" and "wear it more than once." You want clothes that can travel well and clothes that can wear well. Bring one pair of jeans and one pair of wrinkle-free dress pants. Don’t spring for the whole wrinkle-free suit because those things look way too cheap. And you’re too good for cheap. You’re reading this site, after all. Congratulations.
Bring one or two button down shirts and call ahead of time and confirm that the hotel or wherever you’re staying at has a steamer or an iron. They should. If they don’t, stay somewhere else… because even if you don’t need a crispy white shirt every day, it’s a matter of principle, right?
Get some travel socks (they take up less space and you can wear them a few times in a row) and some underwear. Don’t go crazy (you want to be comfortable, after all) but if you can spring for some boxers that take up less space than your old pairs, then, by all means, get ’em. Throw some T-shirts into the mix as well.
Don’t burden yourself with an extra pair of shoes… just wear a versatile, comfortable pair of dressy shoes with you when you head to the airport.
Now that you’ve got your clothes picked out, it’s time to pack ’em. Red Oxx, the aforementioned company behind the excellent Air Boss, actually has instructions drawn up on how to perform the so-called ritual of "Bundle Wrapping". The basic idea is that your clothes fold around each other, maximizing the amount of space everything takes up.
As you can see in the instructions, your clothes become origami-like. Packing can be fun, see?! Okay, maybe not. But Bundle Wrapping will save you a whole lotta space so you’ll always have room for the most important things…
Yes, you CAN pack liquids in a post-9/11, post-crotchbomber world. And if you want fresh breath and a clean body, you’re going to need that somewhat liquid-y toothpaste and shampoo/bodywash.
That doesn’t mean packing liquids is now hassle free. There are regulated sizes for how much of each liquid you can bring on the plane and those very same regulations call for the liquids to be placed in a specific-sized ziploc bag.
Thankfully, shampoo, toothpaste and all the liquids you might need come in "Travel" sizes. And guess what? So do ziploc bags. So just be sure to get the right ones at the store and you should be fine.
Look at all this space you have left in your bag! Don’t get cocky, buddy. You haven’t put your computer away. If you have a netbook or Macbook Air, obviously bring that. If you have an iPad… then you’re either reading this a few months after the article was published… bring that instead. Or you’re from the future… and then you don’t need to use airports to travel. You have the Delorean.
Either way, you should have just enough space for a computer, your phone and all the necessary chargers. Don’t get creative… don’t start stuffing your bag with DVDs. If you want a movie to watch, rip it and put it on your computer. Quality-be-damned, a Divx file is good enough for tonight’s showing at the Tray-Table Cineplex.
Oh, and be sure to check out this dude Doug Dyment’s website, One Bag. The dude is basically like George Clooney from "Up in The Air" with his pack your life in one bag prostelytizing. Which is nutty as hell but quite obviously compelling and REALLY useful for when you want to pack light on a short trip.