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Packing light can make a trip safer, easier

Packing light can make a trip safer, easier
A "less is more" approach can lead to a more freeing, enjoyable trip. (iStockphoto/Getty Images)

Whether flying, driving or cruising to your next destination, lightening the load is key to a more comfortable and safe travel experience. Too full bags or bulky suitcases that are difficult to pull and lift, could cause injuries or just drag you down. The following are tips to help minimize what and how you pack:

Choose wisely


Whether you are shopping for a new suitcase or carry on, choosing one from your closet or borrowing one from a friend, make sure it's a good fit. Rolling wheels are a must. Take it for a test drive and make sure the handle and wheels work well in all directions. AARP Travel Center recommends four-wheel bags rather than two wheels because they are sturdier and easier to roll. If borrowing, check the bag for wear and tear and test all the zippers. Also, pay close attention to the bag's weight when empty. When looking at airline regulations for weight or the necessity of lifting it into and out of the car, every ounce matters.



Many popular products come in trial size or purchase trial size bottles and transfer just enough of your favorites for the trip. For air travel, the Transportation Security Administration requires a clear bag for aerosols, liquids and gels. For women this includes makeup too. The rules allow 3.4 ounce sized or less per item and they must fit in a one quart-size clear plastic bag. Regardless of how you are traveling, don't take full-size products and be sure to leave home items you'll have access to on the other side like shampoo.


Seasoned travelers recommend traveling with medication in the original packaging with the Rx number and information on it. It's also recommended to have a list of all medications, dosage and Rx numbers stored in a separate area in case of an emergency. For those more tech savvy, you could use your Smartphone and take pictures of the Rx labels. AARP Travel Center recommends keeping your medications in your carry on so they are with you and less likely to get misplaced. If traveling by air, be sure to check all TSA regulations. If you have a liquid medication and need more than the 3.4 ounces the item can be declared at security.

Leave room


To bring back souvenirs from your trip, think ahead in terms of space. Either keep enough space in your suitcase or carry on or fold up and pack a small extra bag that you can use for the return trip. If traveling by air, be sure to check on baggage rules and fees. Or, consider shipping the items home. Depending on the size it will likely be cheaper than luggage fees and is one less item to lug around.


If you like to hold a publication in your hands, AARP Travel Center recommends magazines or secondhand paperbacks that you can enjoy and pass along or leave behind once you are done. If you are ready to jump into the digital age, a tablet or e-reader only weigh a few ounces and can hold a library full of choices from newspapers and magazines to the latest best seller.

Curb the clothing

It's easy to start thinking of different types of clothing for all situations and convince yourself you need it all. Step back and think practically. If you need to take bulky items like a coat or sweatshirt, consider wearing it in transit. The same rule applies to shoes or boots. If possible, wear the bulkiest pair during your travels so they don't take up room in your bag.

Jody Paige for Primetime