Packing Hacks for Tricky Travel Situations

As the holiday season approaches, travel is inevitable. You may be packing up your family of 5 for a vacation to Grandma’s house, or be stressing over flying solo with a baby, or be wondering about how the TSA’s newest regulations for equipment and technology may affect your packing. Whatever your predicament, we’re here today to bring you our top three packing hacks for tricky travel situations.

For the hobbiest and/or professional photographer/filmmaker

As an unspoken rule, photographers tend to carry their photography equipment onto the plane with them. It must have something to do with the fact that checking thousands of dollars worth of gear to possibly get manhandled or “lost” is a terrifying thought for their profession or expensive passion/hobby. Back in June, the TSA announced that all travelers must remove any and all electronic devices larger than a cell phone from their carry on for screening into their own bin (similar to what you’ve had to do with laptops in the past.) For traveling photographers, that is a massive hassle when you’re traveling with multiple camera bodies, lenses, and external flashes. Just imagine, you thought that the people behind you would give you side eye for fumbling with your belt, or forgetting your keys were in your pocket and having to go back through the scanner a second time. Imagine what kind of judgey eyes you’ll get if you whip out 13 different bins for each lens or camera body? Eesh.

While as of yet this rule is already in place in most major airports, or will be rolling out within the next few months, there are a few travel hacks that we’d like to suggest if you are foreseeing traveling with your photography equipment in the near future.

1. Prioritize your equipment and check what you can:

We aren’t suggesting that you throw your brand new full frame body into your suitcase, rolled up next to your undies or sports bras, at all. However, if you’re traveling with cheaper items (which can be replaced or purchased for less than $100) such as the following equipment, you may be tempted to put them in with your clothing, rather than fumble in the security line:

Once again, use your best judgement and know your personal timeline. If you’re scheduled to photograph a wedding within hours of arrival, you probably wouldn’t want to chance checking anything you’d need, just in case your bag was lost, or items arrived back in your possession damaged.  But, if you’ve scheduled yourself 24+ hours of buffer time, adding these items into your checked bag is a great hack to remember. We’ve found that rolling up the items into your clothing is a great way to keep them safe, and provides ample padding so they are less likely to be damaged.

2. Sign up for TSA Pre-Check

The good news is that hobby or professional photographers and filmakers can sign up for the TSA Pre-Check, and avoid having to unload all their gear at the security checkpoint. If you are enrolled in the Pre-Check, you are not subject to additional electronics screenings at all. Over 200 airports and 42 airlines offer Pre-Check, and the average person waits less than 5 minutes at the security gate if enrolled. In order to apply for the Pre-Check, you must submit an online application, and schedule an appointment at an enrollment center. There are over 380 available nationwide, so the chances of them having one close to you is good. Once you arrive at your appointment, you will have a 10 minute long, in-person background check done, as well as have your fingerprints taken. Once that is complete, you are now approved to skip through the additional security checks that the general public has to do, and you’ll enjoy a speedier process in your own Pre-Check line. While it may seem like a hassle to go through these steps, if you travel frequently with a large amount of electronic equipment, it will save you tons of time and hassle in the long run- guaranteed.

Product Recommendation

If you’re planning to travel in the future, having a good quality luggage set will make your life much easier, and save you money in the long run because you won’t have to replace your luggage all the time. eBags is your one stop shop for purchasing any travel related gear like backpacks and luggage, from top brands like Samsonite, Tumi, and Jansport.

Having a good quality luggage set will protect your valuable items, and eBags packed these stylish bags with tons of additional features that any traveler would appreciate. The eBags EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner 2 pc. Set is the perfect luggage set for anyone to own, whether you’re a business professional traveling for work, or a busy parent taking their kids to Disneyland. The 2 piece set includes the carry-on and 24″ tall spinner, and both are guaranteed under the Limited Lifetime Warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Take a moment to let that sink in; eBags stands behind their quality and craft enough to offer a warranty for life. When you’re a frequent traveler, you know that’s impressive. We love the double wheeled castors that spin around easily, so you can drag the bag behind, or maneuver it easily as a push roller. Both bags also have a Flush-mounted Travel Sentry TSA-recognized 3-dial combination lock built directly into the bags. What that means is that your bag will be locked securely (keeping random airline workers out) but yet if TSA needs to check the contents, it has a TSA universal lock that they can get inside and gain access easily.

Both bags have a 100% polycarbonate hardside shell. This material is the strongest, and most durable material for hardside luggage. Even the visible texture and diamond pattern was designed to keep your bag looking nice and attractive, and reduce the visible signs of wear and dirt that will inevitably happen when traveling and checking luggage. The self-healing zipper is the strongest on the market, and will last a lifetime of opening and closing. The top grab handle is fully recessed, which allows for you to really use every single bit of space to fill on the inside. The side grab handle lays flat, and is reinforced with a support plate for durability. The ergonomic trolley handle adjusts to three different heights:  Carry-On adjusts to 43″, 39″, 35″ and the 24″ Spinner adjusts to 44.5″, 40.5″, 36.5″

On the inside of the bag, it’s a stylish grey nylon color (just for fun!) and the packing compartment is divided into two sections. The full mesh zip-around top compartment is absolutely perfect for containing items, while still keeping them visible through the mesh. The open lower compartment has eBags innovative removable and adjustable shelf system, which we love to use to keep things like shoes stable in their own compartment, or toiletries away from valuable dry-clean only clothing. It also has a sturdy 5 point tie strap, which locks everything into place (with an adjustable harness, rather than flimsy expandable elastic) and keeps it from shifting too much during transport.

Some other favorite features of eBags EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner 2 pc. Set  includes:

  • Patent-pending cross-over zipper pullers are flush-mounted
  • Includes four molded feet to keep it steady when you need to set it on its side
  • All component parts are attached with removable fasteners, in case of any needed repairs
  • Carry-On is 22″ x 14″ x 9”, meeting airline size requirements
  • 24″ Spinner is 27″ x 18″ x 11.5
  • Both bags are extremely lightweight
  • Available in 4 stylish colors: Red, Blue, Yellow, and Graphite (who needs to agonize searching for yet another black bag at baggage claim?)

Traveling With a Baby

Traveling alone with a baby  can be a tricky travel situation. How do you travel light but also bring everything? Below are some packing hacks we’ve gathered for traveling with your baby over the holidays. Remember, successful packing is the first step for a successful trip!

1. Bring the Right Baby Gear

Bring a stroller. The stroller can help make travel hassle-free. If you do not want to use the stroller in the airport, they can be checked for free at the gate. Aim for a small collapsible stroller for travel to ensure it will fit in small spaces. You can’t talk about baby gear and travel without talking about diapers. Bring enough to last for the duration of your travel time, including enough diapers for any possible delay. Bring a plastic bag to hold any soiled diapers. Chances are baby is not going to stay put in the stroller during the entirety of your travel time so bring a baby carrier. Being hands-free during travel can make the journey stress-free. As an added bonus, it will keep baby feeling close and secure in a busy airport. Bring an extra outfit for baby and yourself for travel. It is foreseeable that baby will have some sort of “incident” during your travel day.

2. Choose The Bag

A baby may be small, but they require a lot of gear. Choose a bag that has plenty of room for both you and the baby. Also, choose a bag that is lightweight and portable.  If you are traveling with a stroller, it is important to choose a bag that can stand upright and maneuver easily. Traveling with a baby is going to be unpredictable, so choose a bag that is going to be predictable in durability and convenience. Your bag should make travel easier, not harder.

Check out this post on traveling with an infant to learn more traveling hacks that every jet-setting Mom should have in her arsenal.
Product Recommendation

For our trip, we chose the TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-on. The TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-On is extremely lightweight, weighing only 7 lbs. 4oz, so it won’t slow you down during travel. The TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-On stands upright and maneuvers easily (even while holding baby). The TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-On features enough compartments to fit all your travel items and your baby’s items, including toys, diapers, and clothes.  

Some of the other features we loved about the TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-On:

  • The trolley handle adjusts to 3 heights making it easy to maneuver around.
  • Two webbing tie-down straps to secure packed contents.
  • No matter how you prepared you are as a mom, you will always need room to stash last-minute items. This bag expands an additional 1.25”, to accommodate the last minute items.
  • Available in five colors: Black, Brushed Indigo, Eggplant, Heathered Graphite, and Sinful Red.

3. Keep Organized

It is vital to stay organized while traveling with baby. Otherwise you will waste precious time digging around the bag for what you need. The TLS Hybrid Hybrid’s top pocket is perfect for readily accessible storage items during travel such as pacifiers, diapers, ID, and small bottles or snacks. The interior orange lining makes it easy to find your items inside the bag. Even with all of the amenities, packing can be tricky when packing for two! To make it easier, try using packing cubes.  We chose Slim Packing Cubes by eBags. The Slim Packing Cubes helped divide outfits for each day. The mesh top panel made it easy to see what the contents inside the cube to avoid digging around the bag.

 

For those who can’t leave work behind

The growing number of entrepreneurs and professionals who work from home means that holiday travel doesn’t isn’t always vacation time. In fact, 60% of US employees conduct work-related business while on vacation. Pulling away from your work isn’t always possible when you’re the sole employee, or when vacation time is precious and limited. There are a few ways you can prepare to make your working holiday a smooth one.

1. Use a file sharing service

Clouds and file sharing services help to increase collaboration and improve communication in everyday business, but they’re crucial when you’re working from a distance. Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive . . . there are many file sharing services from which you can choose. Using one of these services allows you to share important files and projects with others, and access your own files on any of your devices, with just the click of a mouse.

2. Set aside specific times for work

Before you pack up and leave, decide when you’ll focus on work. Choosing blocks of time for work will eliminate frustration and unmet expectations about family time. Let any co-workers know that those are the times when you’ll be responding to messages and answering your phone. Let your family know that those blocks are time for focusing on work. If you have young children, planning these times around nap times is often a great strategy. Do your best to keep work within those specified times and keep your laptop, phone and files tucked away during non-work times.

3. Keep your work belongings separate and organized

A little bit of organization will go a long way when you’re working from vacation. Having a dedicated bag for your laptop and/or tablet, any necessary files and work papers, chargers and other tools you’ll need for work will help to maximize the few hours you’ve set aside for work.

Product Recommendation

If you’re planning to work from vacation, having a dedicated bag for your work belongings is a great idea. The Professional Slim Laptop Backpack by eBags is the perfect choice. It includes fully padded, lockable laptop and tablet compartments, as well as a crush-proof bottom compartment. It converts easily from backpack to briefcase, and features a luggage handle pass-thru panel. A side compartment unzips to reveal a water bottle pocket.

The front organizer is a dream come true for anyone working away from the office. It includes 3 zippered mesh pockets, 2 business card pockets, 2 elastic pen loops, one hidden pen pocket and one elastic trimmed pouch. These small pockets all contribute to keeping random odds and ends from piling up anywhere in this bag! Everything has its place.

The large compartment can hold laptops up to 17.5″. The top-load tablet pocket is fleece lined for automatic glass cleaning and measures 8 1/8″ x 11.5″.  The easy access middle compartment has a rigid flat surface for binders, folders or books and includes diagonal slash pockets to help organize loose papers and folders.

No matter what vacation you have planned, packing smart is the first step to enjoying your vacation!  Happy holidays!

Want more travel tips? Check out Family Carry On Bags: 4 Things I did Right

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Megan

Megan lives in Michigan with her husband, daughter, and son. Her days are spent hanging out and doing family projects on her real-life farm, and spending time on the Great Lakes. She loves swimming, celebrity gossip, University of Michigan and Denver Broncos football, trashy reality TV, and writing. In addition to being a Mommy and self-proclaimed urban-farmer, she owns a photography business located in Southeast Michigan, Memoirs Photography.

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