Friday 18 January 2019

The golden rules of packing: Sinead Ryan's seven expert tips

Stay clear of excess charges and avoid having your bags rifled through - Sinead Ryan has the ultimate guide to getting on top of your luggage

Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

Booked a trip? Nervous about flying?

Well, it seems passengers could have added concerns after the revelation that some Aer Lingus staff have been accused of rifling through checked baggage and nicking items from travellers' luggage. The company is now installing CCTV to find the culprits. So, what can you do to have a better trip?

It all starts even before you get to the airport.

1. Booking

If you must take luggage, booking it online, in advance, is far cheaper than at the gate. For Ryanair, 10kg cabin baggage now means buying a priority seat (€6 when booking, €8 when checking-in, €25 if you forget, or it's too big) although you can bring a small, under-seat bag for free. Aer Lingus still allows 10kg in cabin allowance (plus a smaller handbag) included in the fare.

Lost or damaged baggage is covered by the Montreal Convention 1999 but airlines are notoriously picky about what they'll pay for and you must keep all receipts for replacement items. Travel insurance is also essential.

More: Seven expert packing tips that will change the way you travel

Keep a beady eye on the overhead locker so no one can walk away with your belonging
Keep a beady eye on the overhead locker so no one can walk away with your belonging

2. Luggage

What type of bag to bring is a toss up. Rigid metal and you can't squish last minute things into it; nylon or canvas and it can rip (or be cut) too easily. Samsonite is arguably the market leader here.

The 'LiteShock Spinner' (81cm) may cost a hefty €499 but you can have it engraved for free with your email address. The 'Bon Air' from Ryanair (55cm) weighs in at €99, including a padlock.

It's far less stressful to buy toiletries at the airport once airside (Boots often has three-for-two travel essentials), or abroad, rather than trying to measure out everything into 100ml bottles before you go. Bring the bare minimum in a sealed (zipped is best) rigid plastic bag - the kind cosmetic companies give you for free when you buy products. Avoid bringing your favourite perfume - a key target for "disappearing" - unless it's in a travel size atomiser.

3. Packing

Sick of bag charges? Well, why not consider the latest in 'wearable luggage'?

Yes, it's a thing. And that's not just stuffing a kindle into your pocket and putting on layers of clothes. The 'Big Pocket Travel Jacket' from Rufus Roo (amazon.co.uk, £34.99, approx €39.54), promises to carry up to 10kg across six pockets including room for laptop, food and toiletries.

The 'Atlas Stretch' jacket from eddiebauer.com is US$89.99 (€79), has eight interior and exterior pockets to hold all your holiday possessions. Neither are on-trend, but you'll get looks of envy (masquerading as derision, possibly) from fellow travellers. Both can be rolled and stored under the seat during the flight.

Leave valuables at home - seriously - who needs diamonds, designer labels and top-of-the-range gadgets on holidays? Bring costume bling and comfy clothes instead or buy in street markets. If you must bring your jewels, wear them.

Stuff cash/phones in empty suncream containers to hide. When packing, the advice is to roll soft garments, put underwear into shoes and use vacuum packs (€1.50 for two, 45 x 60cm, dealz.ie).

Put loose cables, keys, make-up, etc, into reusable bags.

4. Locks

Padlocks are permitted on luggage, but in the USA, must be 'TSA' approved (e.g. can be opened by security using a master key). Whether combination or key is up to you, but you're going to run into extra problems if you lose the key. A cheap option is to use cable ties around the handles (but remember to pack a small scissors in an outside pocket to cut it open later).

If you want a secure lock, Argos has a three-piece set for €14.99, lenehans.ie offers a combo padlock in pink for €9.95 and a pack of four 'key-alike' locks for €39.99, while Woodies sells a Masterlock combo twin pack for €15.99.

5. Security

The trick at the security scanner is to use more trays than you need. Most people try to squash everything into one - jacket, laptop, belt, toiletries, but they get buried and something could easily be swiped if you're not careful. Use as many trays as you like, with only one clean layer of items in each, making them too hard to steal or fall out.

6. On board

The safest way to travel is to take all your belongings with you on the plane; that way you never lose sight of them. Keep a beady eye on the overhead locker when everyone's getting off, to make sure your bag, jacket or duty free isn't 'accidentally' taken by someone else.

7. Lost property

Thousands of items get lost or forgotten every year in airports and on flights, mainly due to customer carelessness. Although items confiscated at security can't be reclaimed, it is put into hampers and given to charity.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) spokesperson Siobhan O'Donnell says an amazing array of items are lost every day in Irish airports including, recently, a wheelchair, passports, a deceased's ashes, a satellite dish and an entire toilet and cistern. All are logged on the company's website (daa.ie) and can be recovered for a €6 admin fee. Items left on planes are at the airline's discretion but a charge will be made to locate and store them.

Read more:

Pack like a pro... with six super tips from a savvy flight attendant

Irish Independent

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