Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never loves to anyone? Erma Bombeck wrote this many years ago when traveling with a large amount of luggage was the norm. With all the delay factors, such as weather, equipment malfunction, or security checks, it has become much more efficient to handle your own bag in case you end up somewhere unexpected. As many articles already describe, in detail and from experience, the few thoughtful steps to become an efficient traveler are having a good duffle bag, creating a list, keeping perspective, mastering a packing technique, and maintaining a sense of adventure. There is an art or science to packing a single duffle bag carry on, either you are going overnight or for an extended trip.
A good duffle bag depends mainly on your style and purpose. From the sleek single compartment bag to the simple backpack or the larger multi-puffed duffle bag, they all offer the main function of packing space. Duffle bags have an advantage over the stiff framed suitcase by simply being flexible. This flexibility allows the bag to fit in unexpected spaces. In the United States, the major airlines allow a carry-on bag to be 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches. Although as many of us have seen some larger bags will get past the gatekeeper.
The first step of the smart traveler is to check the predicted weather at their destination. This will help to determine if any other items are needed; raincoat, gloves, long underwear, etc. Then start a list of clothes, toiletries, electronics, and miscellaneous items. Keep in mind the airline restrictions that do not allow various combustibles, firearms, sharp objects, most sporting equipment, and liquids of 3.4 oz size. Think about substituting bar soap for gel or solid perfume sticks instead of a spray. Your local drug store will also have travel size items if you need mini size size toothpaste. Also, consider that it is possible to purchase items at your destination or another option is the small toiletries that hotels still provide. Creating a list will help you not over pack or forget an important item.
Secondly, keep your packing in perspective by thinking about your itinerary or destination with the idea that you will be there to see the sights or visit family and not necessarily put on a fashion show. An experienced traveler learns to coordinate their clothes and shoes so that they are able to mix, match, and layer. Not to mention wearing items multiple times. Not talking about underwear but wearing that pairs of jeans or cargo shorts a couple of times with different shirts. A skirt or slacks worn during the day with a t-shirt will look more polished for dinner with a nice top or button down shirt. A single pair of flip-flops, good walking shoes, and flats will get you through most any occasion. Laundry is also an option for those longer stays.
Packing techniques should take into consideration personal choices, type of bag used and how your bag will be handled. The basic technique starts with the heaviest items on the bottom. With a duffle bag due to the flexible sides, it is suggested that flat items are on the bottom, such as pants or t-shirts, with shoes around the perimeter and sensitive items in the middle. The most space-saving and effective way to lessen wrinkled clothes is to roll them together. Extra wrinkle protection can be added by using dry cleaners type plastic bag as a starting platform, lay the largest item down first and then add smaller items that are less likely to wrinkle on top. Once you have a few articles layered, fold the edge of the plastic bag towards the top of your pile and begin rolling. Another technique is by inserting a t-shirt or socks at the spot where the fold would occur to lessen the crease. Other tips include stuffing the shoes with gloves, socks, or any smaller item that fits. Organized packers also use smaller bags inside the larger bag, with the added benefit of having a day pack available at your destination.