Tips on holiday packing

Like summer strikes, airport security scares and baggage restrictions can occur at a moment’s notice, causing confusion and headaches for even the most well-informed traveller. Read our tips to stay prepared for any unexpected situation and have a stress-free start to your trip.

It’s tempting to throw into your hand luggage that extra evening outfit or those baby toys that just might make the difference between a restful flight and baby boredom, but these days it pays to keep your carry-on and checked-in luggage to the basics.

With carry-ons limited (some UK airports now allow two small bags, but not all), checked-in luggage weight limits dropping – especially on low-cost airlines, who may even charge you for each piece – and hand luggage subjected to even greater scrutiny, even a slip up packing your make-up bag in your carry-on luggage can mean you face a serious search and a dent in your duty-free shopping time.

Be prepared

The answer is to play it safe. When you book your flight, check for any luggage-related changes to avoid nasty surprises. For the bags you hope to check in, confirm your item allowance and weight limits for each before you pack, and again before you leave. Drag your full bags on to the passenger scales to avoid excess charges or arguments at the check-in desk. Get out the ruler to check your hand luggage still makes the grade (those allowances keep getting smaller!), and if you are going on a sporting holiday, ask specific questions about rules and costs for bringing on surfboards, skis or golf clubs.

Before you pack your first outfit, just prior to your departure, contact your airline for the very latest guidelines and to make sure there are no last-minute changes that will affect your preparations.

When you pack your carry-on bag, consider carefully what essentials you must have on board – nappies, baby formula – and any regulations that have an impact on these. For example, in carry-on bags, travellers are still restricted to one 20x20cm plastic bag containing a few separate100ml bottles of liquid. Be prepared to taste your baby’s made-up formula at the security checkpoint, which means carrying it in an appropriate resealable container.

Remember, too, that a laptop or other large electrical appliance will count as your single piece of carry-on luggage if it doesn’t fit inside another allowable bag. If you are carrying undeveloped film, ask for a hand inspection at security or put in a checked bag to avoid damage during the baggage screening process. And, if you are carrying gifts for family and friends at the other end, don’t do the wrapping until you arrive. The security screeners will want to see what’s inside before you climb aboard your flight.

Medication regulations

Prescription medicines will also be subject to verification, although they may be allowed to exceed the 100ml limit placed on liquid toiletries and cosmetics. If you do need to take medicine with you, let your airline know as soon as possible, and you’ll need to carry documentation to identify the medicine, obtained from a relevant qualified medical professional (your GP is best).

Taking a translation of the documents will help avoid any problems on the return flight if your destination is not English-speaking (especially outside of Europe). Check also that the medicine you are carrying is not illegal in the country you are flying to, since even some common remedies can contain ingredients banned in a number of destinations.

Strictly prohibited

Anyone who has ever perused the check-in desk posters about prohibited items will have laughed at the thought of anyone actually packing explosives or fireworks in their Samsonite, but here are a few less-obvious restricted or prohibited items to be aware of when it comes to travel packing:

  • ‘Snowglobes’ (a common holiday souvenir, especially for kids) are not permitted in carry-on luggage by US Transportation Security Administration
  • Cigarette lighters are not permitted in hand luggage or on your person during flights to the US and some Caribbean destinations
  • Heat-producing articles, such as underwater diving torches are not allowed in checked baggage
  • Spare lithium batteries or ion cells (two maximum) are permitted in carry-on luggage only
  • Fuel cell systems and spare fuel cartridges for portable electronic devices (cameras, mobiles,camcorders, etc.) are allowed in carry-on only
  • ‘Strike-anywhere’ matches are forbidden in both carry-on and checked bags.

Find out more from the following websites:

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate travel insurance to cover your baggage while it’s being transported and once you arrive at your destination – to find out what Churchill can offer and to get an online quote today, visit the travel insurance section of this website.

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