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Airport chaos: how to avoid baggage headaches

We’ve all seen the airport baggage nightmare: Suitcases piled up in the hundreds – speckles of color in a sea of ​​black. And it’s not just Canada. From London to Dusseldorf to Amsterdam, travelers passing through international airports overseas also face airport chaos.

Marybeth Bond spent a month this spring traveling to four different countries in Europe without dealing with the hassle of checking luggage, and she just flew from California to Connecticut for a Fourth of July family union with her husband – again with just hand luggage.

“What a difference it makes,” Bond, the author of a dozen travel books and one of the bloggers behind GutsyTraveler.com, said in a phone interview Monday.

“Hand luggage is the only solution, because then you bypass the baggage check. When you get off the plane, you are the first to quickly exit the airport. And it’s chaotic there.

You may have no control over the nightmare of long lines and canceled flights, but you can have some control over whether you spend the first few days of your vacation with or without your travel essentials.

From Bluetooth trackers to choosing the right suitcase, here are some tips and tricks to minimize your risk of a baggage accident at the airport.


Some people might recommend using a lightweight hardside suitcase to minimize the temptation to overpack, but Bond and CeeCee Chilanga, a Toronto-based style expert and founder of Dapper Style Mint, both recommend using softside luggage for its flexibility. and its scalability. They also come with exterior pockets for quick and easy access to items that may need to be removed to safety.

“Soft luggage, you can pack it and it expands…and then I usually either pack a backpack or a duffle bag as my second personal item,” said Chilanga, who rarely flies with checked luggage, to CTVNews.ca in an interview.

“I hate queuing for luggage if I don’t have to.”

She says handbags are a waste of space and instead puts her wallet and passport in a fanny pack or small shoulder bag that she can stow on the side of her gym bag or slip under. his jacket.

If you opt for a duffel bag instead of a suitcase, consider a rolling bag for the option of rolling it instead.

Bond’s favorite suitcase styles are lightweight, “spinner” models with four wheels that can be easily pushed instead of pulled.

Always check the hand luggage size limits for the carrier you will be traveling with, bearing in mind that domestic and international airlines may have different requirements. Bond notes that there are weight limits in Europe which can be difficult to adhere to.


For $40 and up, these battery-powered tracking devices can be placed in your luggage to help you find your luggage in a crowd of suitcases.

Originally popularized as a method of tracking misplaced keys, wallets, and even pets, Bluetooth trackers like Apple’s AirTag, Samsung’s SmartTag, or Tile send information to your cell phone so you know exactly where they find themselves. They don’t draw much power and typically have a range of around 100 to over 300 feet, depending on the strength of the Bluetooth signal between the tracker and your phone. They can also sound an alarm to help you locate the missing object. When the item is out of Bluetooth range, many models show the most recent location of the tracker.

Some models only work with specific devices, brands, and operating systems, like iOS and Android. The AirTag, for example, only works with the iPhone. But it runs on Apple’s Find My system, which tracks your item through the company’s network of devices. This allows your AirTag’s location to update frequently even if you’re out of range, and allows for more accurate tracking.

Some plotters use GPS, which offers much greater coverage than Bluetooth but requires a subscription, and not all countries use the same cellular network technology.

As PC Magazine wrote in its review of trackers, “Think about how you plan to use a Bluetooth tracker…some models work better for certain applications than others.”


A key tip for traveling light is to pack low-maintenance clothes that you can layer, mix, and match. And start early – don’t wait until the day before, advise Chilanga and Bond.

“It’s just about being aware of what you’re actually going to be carrying and your weight,” says Chilanga, who always checks the weather before packing in case the weather isn’t seasonal.

Starting early means giving yourself time to think about what you need and what you don’t need. Chilanga aims to get three to four different combination possibilities for each item of clothing she brings in to minimize the number of items she needs to pack.

“So plan ahead and make sure if I’m taking a top, how many ways can I maximize it with different outfits,” she explained.

“Remember that other people don’t notice if you’re wearing the same thing every day – only you notice,” Bond added. A white shirt with a different scarf three days in a row and people think I’m wearing something different, she said.

Chilanga and Bond also avoid fabrics that need extra care, so anything that needs dry cleaning or ironing, for example. Bond checks if the item passes the wash, dry and reuse test.

“There are now all these wonderful fabrics that you can get where you can wash them and they dry in a few hours and you wear them again, wrinkle free,” she said.

Bond also suggests avoiding expensive jewelry and books that can be heavy. bring e-books instead. The heaviest item you pack should be your shoes and carry the bulkiest on your feet if you are bringing more than one pair. Makeup and other toiletries can also add up quickly in terms of weight and space, so grab what you need and put them in smaller containers instead.


If you are traveling with children, traveling “light” can be tricky. Their clothes may be smaller and take up less space, but they often need other essentials. If they’re old enough, Bond says it’s a good lesson to have them pack up and not let them pack too many toys and books.

Chilanga says if there’s easy access to a Walmart or other similar store, consider buying bulky items like extra diapers at the destination instead of packing a week’s worth of what they need.


Chilanga and Bond roll their clothes to make sure every corner of their luggage and bag is maximized.

“I roll things up and put them in my shoes, put them in my hat, any little nook where I can put things. So generally, even for a five-day trip, I could probably m get away with carry-on luggage,” says Chilanga. .

Some experts have recommended using “packing cubes” to organize and contain clothes in luggage, but they can take up more space. Another packing method is bundling, which helps reduce creases and creases. Clothes are wrapped in layers around a firm central object – a pouch with socks and underwear for example – until you have a bundle of clothes. Some travelers use compression sacks or waterproof dry bags popular in camping as alternative organization and space-saving options.

And in case the airline decides at the last minute to have you checked your hand luggage, always make sure that at least one outfit, underwear and other essentials are in your second backpack. or personal sports bag. Make sure you have your ID inside and outside your luggage, and that it appears exactly as on the plane ticket, advises Bond.

“Always carry what you can’t live without – it’s always your passport, it’s always whatever medicine you take,” she said.

“Some things you never leave the house without – your patience and your sense of humor. Because things are going to get ugly. You just have to laugh about it.

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