Packing Mistakes – What NOT to Do

It was January 3. We had just landed at Dubai International Airport after a 7 hour Qantas Airways flight from London Heathrow. The trip started off on a rough note – a bad taxi ride to LHR, my almost not getting fed dinner on the flight and then my blood pressure dropping significantly mid-flight leaving me nauseous and weak. We were tired, a bit cranky and all we really wanted to do was get to the hotel…but it wasn’t going to be that simple.

As Andy and I sat at the baggage reclaim area, we were both a bit nervous. Andy had decided to pack a duffle bag for our five-day trip instead of his usual luggage and we were both a bit nervous the bag wouldn’t make it to Dubai. Causing even more concern was the fact that our flight was a connecting flight – meaning that after landing in Dubai it was going straight to Sydney, Australia.

My bag was one of the first luggages to be dropped onto the baggage reclaim carousel – now all we had to do was wait for Andy’s…

Pre-Dubai Airplane Selfie AlmontesAbroad
Happier times before the baggage mishap

Except Andy’s bag never arrived. And instead we spent hours at DBX (Dubai airport) working with the Qantas staff to locate the bag and figure out whether it was still on the plane (headed to Sydney). After about three hours, it was clear the bag hadn’t arrive and we had no choice but to leave the airport sans Andy’s bag.

We had just wasted our first morning in Dubai at the airport and now we were going to have to waste more time by going to the mall to get Andy clothes and other essentials like a toothbrush and some deodorant (because he didn’t want to use mine and going without was NOT an option). As we were in a taxi headed to the mall, I started thinking: “Andy and I are practically professional travelers by now. Together, we’ve taken countless trips. We should have known better.” And so this experience inspired me to share with you my tips for how to pack smarter for your next trip.

Aim to carry on instead of checking in luggage. Whenever we take a short trip, we always carry on our bags instead of checking them in. Recently, I’ve even started buying my liquids (mouthwash, lotion, etc) at the airport AFTER the security check and leaving them behind at the hotel. Yes, it is a waste of money but, in my opinion, it’s money well spent to relieve me from the headache of making sure my liquid toiletries AND my makeup all fit in to one quart size bag.

But that’s not always possible. For shorter trips, one of my tricks is to plan to wear the same outfit for both daytime and dinner. I’ve gotten smarter about what I wear (think maxi dresses and floral print tops vs t-shirts and shorts) therefore eliminating the need to pack a daytime and nighttime/dinner time outfit. On longer trips however, packing everything into a carry-on is just not possible for me. This is especially true when it’s you’re going to be celebrating your birthday and want to look extra special. This kind of trip will require extra shoes and makeup, and a few options – just in case you change your mind. For these longer trips, you may need to check in your bag. That’s when you…

Hope and pray. No, I’m just kidding. Sorta. But seriously, if you do need to check in your bag there are ways you can sort yourself out so that, if the airline loses your luggage, you won’t have to run to buy everything you need. Here’s how:

  1. If you are traveling with someone, pack some things into their bag and vice versa. Andy and I never do this. We are super greedy with our luggage space but guess what we’ll be doing from now on? Yup, because if one of you loses their luggage, then at least s/he will have a few clothing options in the other person’s luggage.
  2. If you are traveling alone, you can still make a plan B. Bring a backpack/large purse as your carry-on item and pack a change of clothes (don’t forget socks and underwear!) into that carry-on bag. 
  3. Ask your hotel. Hotels will typically be able to provide you with a toothbrush and razor at minimum, but if you have any special face washes or things like that, be sure to pack it in a 3 oz/100 ml size into your carry-on.
  4. Tag your luggage! Make sure your checked bags have your name and current address on them. This will help direct them to the correct place should they get lost. Andy never tags his luggage and as for me? I still have my old New Jersey address on mine. #superhelpful
  5. Get yourself some travel insurance! This is probably the most important one. You know that option that ask if you’d like to buy some travel insurance when you book your trip? Well, if you’re like me you probably say no and hope for the best. But guess what, most time that travel insurance will help cover any lost items. Thankfully, Andy already had travel insurance through the card he booked our Dubai trip with, otherwise we would have been screwed…

Travel, although sometimes stressful, should be a very positive experience….it should not be about losing your luggage. I hope all of you put these tips to good use so that you never lose your luggage!

P.S. Andy eventually got his luggage delivered to the hotel the very next day. Apparently, it never made it onto the plane and stayed behind at London Heathrow…silly baggage!

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