Packing a Suitcase: Traveling Light, Traveling With Caution

I believe almost everyone has grown up with some notion of how to pack for travel. Be it a childhood sleepover, camping, or (as we’ll talk about here) a vacation.

When going on vacation, especially one involving airplane travel and security, packing your luggage can be an extremely important step. Taking measures to ensure your things don’t get lost or damaged can help put your mind at ease and no one wants to get stuck at the airport with extra costs or because their luggage doesn’t meet the airline’s guidelines.

On cruises, the baggage policy tends to be simply that if your baggage fits in your room you can bring it. (Although this may be tempting for all the heavy packers out there, just remember, the more luggage you bring the small your room becomes) However, almost every vacation will involve some sort of airplane travel. As many seasoned travelers know, THIS is where packing can get tricky and what we will be focusing on in this post.

First let’s discuss the difference between carry on and check in:

  • Check in luggage
  • Has size and weight restrictions
    • Usually costs extra domestically but is free for 1 bag per person internationally
    • Is stored elsewhere
  • Carry on luggage
    • Has size restrictions
    • Usually has no extra cost
    • Stays with you

Carry on is usually the best way to go fot shorter trips. Your luggage stays in sight, isn’t tossed around as much, and you don’t have to pay any extra cost. Check with your airline about their baggage policies when you begin packing and keep rechecking as these policies change constantly. Be sure to ask:

  • How much you can travel with: size and weight limits for both carry on and check in
  • How much it costs for check in luggage (it usually ranges from $25 to $40 per bag)
  • What is allowed as a carry on: dimensions of the bag or suitcase

When you do begin packing the first 2 rules of thumb are:

“If you can’t replace it easily, don’t bring it”  IE if you will be really upset that the airline lost the special shirt that yout wife bought for you don’t pack it.

“If you need something no matter what , keep it in your carry on.” IE Prescription medicine, glasses, contacts, anything that would be hard to replace where you are going makes this list. If you can hit a local drug store and replace it you are set but not something that you need scipts for.  SIDENOTE: prescription meds MUST be in the original bottles with the labels attached. TSA types love to mess with this stuff and you don’t need the hassles and delays.

Remember that anything you take can get stolen, damaged, or simply forgotten and if it is irreplaceable, its best left at home. If it is something you need for the trip, like medication or a camera, keep it in a carry on. As mentioned before a carry on stays with you on the plane and is less likely to get lost, stolen, or damaged through your travels. If something does happen to your check in during airline travel, travel insurance will cover missing, lost, or stolen baggage up to a point. The airline will cover very little.

Other Tips for Packing:

  • Get sturdy luggage
    • Luggage gets thrown around, prepare for this as best you can. Buy sturdy luggage that is unlikely to be dented. We at On Site Travel actually recommend hard-sided plastic, it doesn’t dent. Strap down the contents inside and don’t put breakable items in a check in.
  • Avoiding check in baggage is avoiding extra costs and extra headache
    • Try to keep your baggage within carry on restrictions. If you can’t, all breakable and valuable items go in the carry on.
  • Leave extra room for souvenirs
    • Remember, you may buy things on your trip, and they will require extra baggage space. Account for that in advance so you aren’t surprised that your baggage no longer fits within airline policy on your way home. There are two ways to do this:
      • If you’re allowed 2 carry ons, pack a smaller suitcase within a larger suitcase (suitcase-ception) on the plane ride over so that you can use smaller suitcase for souvenirs on the ride home
      • Use an expandable suitcase (make sure that the expanded form is still within carry on limits) and make sure it isn’t expanded on the trip over. You can use the expansion space on the trip home to gain the extra room.
    • If you buy something large while on vacation, ask about shipping options. If it can be shipped home you will not need to worry about fitting it in your luggage.
  • Ask about laundry facilities where you are vacationing (be it a hotel or a cruise)
    • If there are, you can pack less.
  • NEVER USE VACUUM SEALING BAGS
    • Although they save room, think about how much room they will take up after they are unsealed after the trip when you are repacking or even during a baggage check. Also, if one of them breaks your baggage can explode. All in all, not a good idea. If you have problems preserving room with clothing, I suggest looking into the KonMari folding method instead.

Happy Packing!

Hawaii Interesting Fact
A creole language in Hawaii spoken by many locals is known as Pidgin. It started on the sugarcane plantations as a way for the English-speaking plantation owners and Non-English speaking Hawaiian and foreign workers to communicate with each other. Pidgin is American English based but includes traces of Hawaiian, Portugese, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and Tagalog. In recent years a few local books, poems, and plays have even been written in the local dialect and a few popular works have even been translated to Pidgin. One popular example (available on amazon.com) is the Bible, or in Pidgin, Da Jesus Book.

image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/travelling-travel-traveling-packing-30855/

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What to Plan and What Not to Plan

As mentioned previously, one of the benefits of using a Travel Agent is that they can help to arrange most of the travel details for you. However, an important question to ask yourself is to what extent do you wish to plan out your vacation.

If you take a cruise or land tour, excursions are often available to buy or they may be part of the trip. Should these be booked in advance or when you get there? Should you have each stop planned out or give yourself time to loaf around or wander the streets at your own ease? (It is a vacation after all.) In the end, it depends on the person and their idea of a vacation.

Some people love to have every minute planned out and feel that this is the best way to get the most out of the time and others want to just go with the flow and plan as you feel at the moment. Some people want to see everything a place has to offer, regardless of the physical strain (like my younger brother). They want to explore, do it all and see it all, in which case planning excursions and tours in advance is the best way to get the most out of your schedule. Others wish to take in the sights but not at the cost of relaxation (like me). They want to take a step back and take in their surroundings at their own pace, in which case planning your days activities in advance may quickly become exhausting.

Regardless of what type of vacationer you are, here is a generalized list of what you should plan and what you don’t have to plan:

  • To Plan
    • Important transportation
      • Transportation from the airport to hotel and back again. However, if taxis are available in the place you are visiting, even this does not have to be planned. Consult your agent about places you will likely need prepared transport.
    • Hotels
      • Even if you just have to stay in one overnight, hotels should be booked in advance. Not only will you have to call different places to make reservations while you are on vacation, there is always the chance that you may not be able to find one! Never a good situation.
    • Popular attractions/ Things you really want to do
      • As I mentioned before, some people don’t like planning their vacations. However, if you went somewhere to see a certain attraction or participate in a certain activity, book it in advance so that you are covered. Popular attractions will usually have space and you can buy the entry tickets on site. Not always though! An example of this is the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam or the Rome Colosseum. BUY THESE IN ADVANCE online or you will most likely not be able to see it when there. Contact On Site Travel LLC and speak with one of our people for other spots that may be tight on space.
  • Not to Plan
    • Meals
    • Minor transportation

Hawaii Interesting Fact
A popular tourist attraction of the Big Island is the active volcano Kilauea. Legend says that it is the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele, known for her passion and fiery temper. Sightings of her near her home are common legend, appearing either as an old woman or beautiful young lady. If you are impolite to her, your belongings will be destroyed, so mind your manners!

Have a great week!

Adventure of the Month: Hawaiian Islands

Happy August! As this is the first post of the month we will be taking the time to promote a special country or place to help our readers learn more about the world waiting to be explored. This month we are promoting the Hawaiian Islands. Once a country of it’s own, Hawaii is now the U.S.A’s 50th state with tourism being its main industry.

Growing up in Oahu, I can say from first hand experience that it is a wonderful place with beautiful scenery, rich history, and a laid back local culture. It is a place that I miss dearly and one that I would definitely recommend experiencing firsthand.

Hawaii consists of an archipelago with 8 “main” islands which all have their own special characteristics and culture that make it unique:

  • Hawaii – “The Big Island”
  • Maui – “The Valley Isle”
  • Lanai – “The Pineapple Isle”
  • Molokai – “The Friendly Isle”
  • Oahu – “The Gathering Place”
  • Kauai – “The Garden Isle”
  • Niihau – “The Forbidden Isle”
  • Kahoolawe – “The Target Isle”

Some have a certain island that they particularly enjoy but for those that have never visited the islands themselves we at Onsite Travel suggest visiting all of them on a cruise in order to get a “flavor” of each.  This way if you fall in love with one you can always come back!

There are two main ways of cruising the Hawaiian Islands available:

  • Pride of America with Norwegian Cruise Lines : a U.S. based ship that starts and ends in Honolulu and cruises the Hawaiian islands for 7 nights/8 days
    • The Pride of America is a mid-sized ship that can hold about 2500 passengers at a time. It’s rooms are smaller than the later option but it cruises all year round and offers discounts to military and local residents of both California and Hawaii. With this option, our travel agents suggest booking your flights a few days earlier and/ or a few days after the cruise ends and staying overnight in a hotel to spend a few days at the state capital. The Hilton Hawaiian Village or the Ilikai hotels are located between the pier and Waikiki.  This will allow you to see North Shore, Pearl Harbour, and Waikiki.  Something to keep in mind with the NCL Pride of America, the service on this cruise is about 1 star lower then you may be used to.
  • A secondary option is with Princess or Holland America Cruise: two cruise companies who do cruises of the islands that start and end in the West Coast (California).  Still 7 nights in the islands with with 4-5 days at sea on either side of the islands.
    • Although this cruise is longer, it is around the same price as the Pride of America cruise with great service and technically the better “bang for your buck” if you have the vacation time. Because of the longer time period, these cruises have some days at sea to relax and sometimes overnight stays at the islands so you have more time to explore. However, they also only run for three months: September, October, and November. This is perfect for those that want to stay away from busy summers in Hawaii, which is when the islands are flocked by tourists.

Throughout August we will be posting small “blurbs” on twitter (@onsite_travel) and at the bottom of our posts on travel tips with more facts about Hawaii and sites worth seeing.

Want to know more about booking a trip to Hawaii? Contact one of our travel agents! Or go on our travel site under “Cruises” to search for more Hawaiian vacations yourself.

Aloha and A Hui Hou!

image (coast of Kauai) by Paul Bica: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dexxus/5621252335/