As a frequent traveler, you may feel like you have packing down pat. But when it comes to checking luggage, there may be a few things you don’t know.
Recently, baggage handler Tammy Mendoza shared some of her biggest tips on the wildly popular Facebook group, Girls LOVE Travel®. GLT defines itself as a “global community of over 1 million active and aspiring womxn travelers providing resources and empowerment to one another to explore the world fearlessly through safety, socializing, and support.”
“Can I give everyone a hint on luggage while we have you here?” Mendoza’s post starts. Over 30,000 members reacted to her packing tips post, which elicited over 1,800 comments. Several of the comments thanked the baggage handler for her hard work, but most were thanking her for her “fantastic perspective and great tips,” as one commenter put it. Some chimed in with their own tips. Mendoza works for a major airline — and here are the baggage handler’s suitcase packing tips.
1. Don’t Overpack
“I work the ramp and touch over 800 bags a day,” Mendoza said in her post. “Let me tell you, at least 30% of those are overpacked. Yes, it’s great you got so much to fit, but if you have to lean on it or sit on it to close, the zipper will blow out. I can’t tell you how many pairs of dirty underwear and dildos, shoes, and tampons I’ve had to pick up over the last six years from broken zippers.”
Some seasoned travelers may think hard suitcases better protect your belongings, but Medoza points out that “hard cases tend to pop the zippers quicker than soft cases.” Here are some soft-sided suitcases to consider if you now find yourself in the market:
“Plus, remember we are real people loading these bags,” said one commenter, implying they work in the airline industry. “If you can’t lift a bag up to your shoulders, you shouldn’t be traveling with it.”
Wise words that may be tough for us chronic over-packers to hear. My personal motto goes, “don’t pack more than you can carry.” Luckily, I am part mule, or so it looks when I am rolling a bag in each hand with a backpack on my back. Hey, a girl needs outfit options!
2. Your Bags Will Get Dirty
Next, Mendoza offers some seemingly obvious advice that some of us might be oblivious to: “The floors of the planes are dirty and that pretty white cloth bag will be brown in about three trips.” Hmm… I never thought about the cleanliness of the cargo hold, but Mendoza has a point. Dark-colored cloth suitcases it is!
3. Plastic Bags Are Your Friend
Every good airplane passenger is familiar with 3-1-1 rule: Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes must be in 3.4-ounce (or smaller) containers and stored in a quart-sized resealable bag. However, to avoid a huge mess in your checked bag, it is also a good idea to bag up your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, et cetera.
“Wrap all soaps and anything liquid in a Ziplock and then put that in a Walmart bag (or Target if you’re fancy),” quips Mendoza. She warns, “When those bottles open up and explode, it will save your stuff from being ruined.”
4. Rain-Proof Your Luggage
“When it rains, your stuff will get wet,” Mendoza says, “Unfortunately, it happens.” She recommends wrapping anything important that moisture could damage in plastic before putting it into your checked bag.
Mendoza also has a pro tip for those traveling with small children: “Put car seats in a plastic bag and then into a car seat bag, it helps!”
5. Never Check Anything You’ll Need The Next Morning
We reached out to Mendoza for further comment. She reminded us to pack “wedding clothes, funeral clothes, plans for a work meeting, and anything that is that important,” into our carry-on bags.
“Many times if your bag is missing or misplaced, those items will not make it in time. And most stores are not open in time to replace those items, even when the airline covers it,” the pro baggage handler warns. “It’s always best to take those as carry-ons.”
6. Don’t Just Tag Your Bag
“Last but not least,” says Mendoza, “tags fall off. Name tags, paper tags, bag tags… write your name and number on a piece of paper and place on top your stuff inside your bag. That way, if tags do get lost, they can locate the owner quicker.” Brilliant! One group member commented that they put their business card inside their suitcase.
As Mendoza says to wrap up her post, “Hope y’all found some of this to be helpful!”