For women going places

Woman Road Warrior Checklist: Packing to Prevent Problems


One of the top Woman Road Warrior rules to live by is to NEVER check your luggage. That way you don't have to waste time at baggage claim and you never have to worry about it getting lost by the airline. But sometimes, checking is unavoidable: You're going on a longer trip, you have to take work products along or you're just packing-light challenged. Never fear. I have some simple tips to help make sure your bag makes it to your destination plus how to avoid trouble in the security line with your carry-on.


1. Be sure proper identification is attached to luggage both inside and outside. You can affix a business card so that you're not revealing your home address. You'll also want to put some kind of unique identifier on the outside of your luggage, such as a ribbon, sticker or handle wrap. I learned my lesson the hard way about the identifier. I once picked up what I thought was my bag one Easter weekend and when I got to my destination, I opened it to find my Easter bonnet had been replaced by chocolate bunnies.

2. Always place a copy of your itinerary on top of your clothing in your checked luggage. If the destination tag goes missing and a baggage carrier has to open your bag, he will know where you are going and be able to get it to you much more easily.

3. Double check your packing list to be sure you have included everything you need. I know some colleagues who swear by a list because they've forgotten something important (underwear or hose) one time too many.

4. If you're traveling with someone, exchange outfits in your checked luggage. That way if one of your bags is lost, you will still have at least one change of clothes.

5. Put all your critical items in your carry-on. This includes:
     - Prescriptions or any over-the-counter medical items
     - Personal hygiene items (those that can't be easily replaced if lost)
     - Passport or identification documents
     - Important documents such as birth certificates or legal documents (anything considered difficult to replace if lost)
     - Valuables such as jewelry, cameras and computers
     - Cell phone and cell phone charger
     - If possible, anything for which the airline is not responsible if it gets lost or stolen in your checked luggage
     - If possible, whatever you need to get by if your luggage is lost or stolen

6. That being said about keeping critical items in your carry-on, you should review the TSA website to determine if any of them are on their forbidden items list.

7. Always take a photo of your luggage. You need a description of your luggage when you file a lost claim report. A picture may make your bag easier for airline personnel to identify. Use your smartphone to take a photo so you always have it with you and can easily pull it up if you need to show it to anyone while you're on the road. 

8. Make sure your checked bag is prepared for being searched:  It should not be locked; if you do, someone may open it forcibly and ruin it. And your toiletries and other non-clothing items should be in clear packaging so security personnel can inspect them easily.

And one more tip: If you are checking a bag and your carry-on will not hold a change of clothes, travel in clothes you will not find embarrassing if your luggage is lost and you have to wear them to a business meeting. It's never fun having to meet a new client in a t-shirt and yoga pants.

See you on the road,

Kathy Ameche

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