How to pack like a flight attendant

Whether you’re going abroad or just heading up to the cottage for a weekend, don’t let an overstuffed suitcase hold you back. Pack like a pro with these easy tips.

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Woman with passport and suitcase
Photo, Getty Images.

1. Buy the right suitcase.

It’s crucial to have the right luggage. “I love Samsonite or Heys. They have a good warranty and are sturdy,” says Evelijn van Iterson, a flight attendant for Sunwing Airlines who has been flying for over a decade. She warns against buying bags with shiny exteriors — “The shell will scratch up fast!” — and ones with hard shells, which are often less spacious.

2. Add an “arsenal bag” 

Keep a bag with the essentials that you can toss into your suitcase before you go anywhere. Jennifer Finucan Mulvihill, a flight attendant with CanJet, has one that’s stocked with Tylenol, Immodium, Advil, Midol, Gravol, Band-Aids, a mini sewing kit, a nail file, tampons, a Tide to Go stick, granola, soup mix, dried fruit, a Starbucks instant coffee, a pen, a notebook and an Energizer battery-powered charger.

3. Roll it up

The key to finding more space is rolling your clothing, says Mulvihill. It’s a go-to flight attendant trick that also helps prevent wrinkles.

4. Plan your outfits

Instead of just grabbing your favourite pieces, think in terms of cohesive ensembles. Van Iterson recommends planning ahead and thinking of multiple ensembles — a tee that works with both a bold skirt and subdued pants, for example. Or pack only clothes that are neutrals so you can mix and match.

5. Zip up your beauty products

Van Iterson stays organized by using refillable bottles for her favourite hair products from home. She buys the bottles at Dollarama, but says you should avoid ones with screw tops. “Due to the cabin pressure, they will leak,” she says, adding, “I still put my shampoos in small Ziplocs just in case.”