Packing Tips from the Packing Guru: Top Ten Essential Tips

A guest blog by Bneato team member and packing guru Lauren Mang.

I’ve done my fair share of traveling in my nearly 32 years on this planet. It all started at the age of 5 when I began earning my frequent flier miles on various airlines. A few stints abroad really tested my ability to pack my life into just two suitcases – a nearly impossible task. What’s more difficult was packing it all plus more when I moved back state-side. And when I worked as a recruiter for two years (and was on the road 8 months out of the year) I really had to learn to pack efficiently or suffer the consequences.

Several friends have asked my advice on how to pack for certain trips which made me realize I should start a ‘packing series’ here on the Bneato blog. It started with the Holiday Travel + Packing Tips post last year. This post will focus on my TOP TEN ESSENTIAL TIPS (after the jump) for packing and future posts will address specific questions (how to pack for a weekend in one bag; how to pack for a 2 week Mediterranean cruise; how to better organize what you pack, etc.). Please feel free to post comments or contact us at Bneato with your specific packing questions!

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Holiday Travel + Packing Tips

A guest blog by Bneato team member Lauren Mang.

Everyone knows to arrive to the airport at LEAST one hour before a domestic flight – and more like three hours before an international flight. This couldn’t be more true during the busy holiday travel season. Remember – if it’s metal (ring, watch, change) take it off/out before going through security. If you don’t want to go through the new scanners at security, alert a TSA officer, but realize that you will likely be given a pat-down; remember, this is your choice.

Here are a few additional tips to help make (domestic) air travel a little easier this holiday season.

1. When it comes to gifts, if at all possible: ship them. If you cannot, pack UNWRAPPED fragile gifts in your carry-on and pack the other UNWRAPPED gifts in your checked luggage. The TSA will unwrap them so save yourself the trouble, pack unwrapped and wrap at your destination. Try to anticipate if you’ll be bringing gifts back with you – if so I highly recommend packing an additional (foldable) bag in your checked luggage. You can also check boxes – just be sure to clearly label them with your contact information so they are easily identifiable. Fees may apply for all additional luggage, and any heavy luggage (check with your airline regarding their baggage requirements/fees).

2. If you’re already checking a bag, I recommend packing your toiletries there. If you only have a carry-on, items that are liquid or liquid equivalent need to go into the quart-sized bag. Don’t pack all your toiletries in the quart bag, just the liquids (i.e. lotions, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, lip gloss, facial cream, shave gel, nail polish, liquid foundation, after-shave, toothpaste, ointments or creams, etc.). Medications should ALWAYS go in your carry-on; if you have a liquid medication measuring more than 3oz please alert a TSA member so they can screen it separately.

3. To keep the security line moving faster remember these few tips:

  • Shoes, belts, jackets and any baggy sweatshirts must come off and go in a bin. No exceptions for adults. I believe children under 12 do not have to remove their shoes, but they will have to remove jackets/belts/etc. Since you know you’re going to have to remove your shoes, wear some that require socks, or have a spare pair handy.
  • Laptops must come out of your luggage, and their cases (unless the case is TSA approved) and ride in a bin ALONE. On the other hand, ipads, iphones, dvd players, gaming devices, tablets, cameras and other smaller electronics can stay in your bags.
  • No liquids over 3oz may pass through security. Pull your quart-sized bag of liquids out and place in a small bin or in the bin with your shoes/coat. If you don’t want to pay a lot for water in the terminal (and I don’t blame you at $5/small bottle), bring an empty reusable bottle and refill at a water fountain after security.
  • Finally, once you’ve shown your ID/ticket to the TSA officer at security, you can pack in your bag so you do not have anything in your hands during the screening. This may seem obvious but can cause delays, especially if you’re being screened through the newer scanning machines which require you have NOTHING in your hands/pockets.

4. I recommend packing neatly because, in the event your bag must be specially screened, TSA officers will be able to quickly locate any questionable items. You may use a TSA approved lock (find at any travel store) to secure your checked bags from other airport employees, while TSA agents are able access your bags for security purposes. Furthermore, make sure ALL luggage is tagged with your contact information at your destination (so your bag will be shipped/delivered to where you are going, not where you were). Whether you use the free paper tags that the airline provides, a luggage tag or these cool new decals – make sure people know how to reach you in case your bag goes missing (temporarily, of course)!

5. When it comes to finding room in the overhead bin for your bag, please also be considerate of others. Place roller bags wheels-in to make room for as many bags as possible. I recommend holding onto bulky coats/hats until you see the flight attendants closing the bins – then alert them you’d like to place your items in the bins. This keeps them from getting moved around/crushed when initially placed in the bin. If you cannot find room, ask a flight attendant to help you – they are packing pros! Moving around other passengers’ luggage can cause tension and in some cases, fights – so leave it to the professionals. Place your largest item in the bin and place anything you’ll need during the flight at your feet.

Holiday travel can be especially stressful for us all. Airport employees are overworked, underpaid and never appreciated. Flight crews and TSA security are constantly complained to and yelled at. Let’s all try to remember to be polite, courteous and respectful not only to our fellow passengers, but also to the people working at the airport. A little kindness during this holiday season can go along way – and you might inspire Mr. Scrooge (sitting next to you) to do the same. Smile, and remember all you have to be thankful for. Your time traveling is minute compared to the joy you’ll have with your family/friends at your destination!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

A guest blog by Bneato team member Lauren Mang.

I’m one of those people who likes to shop throughout the year for Christmas, rather than saving it up until the last minute. Yes, I have completed my shopping/buying by August in the past, and I realize that boggles most people’s minds. Let’s blame it on the organizer/planner in me. About this time of year I already have my carefully planned excel list of gifts by person, and most of those gifts purchased, leaving me to focus on another very important holiday tradition: stocking stuffers! This really is the most wonderful time of the year…

I was like a child on Christmas morning the moment I opened my mail box to find The Container Store’s booklet sized ‘Stocking Stuffers’ catalogue. I dropped the rest of the mail (naturally into a very neat pile, adressed immediately after I devoured said publication) and focused on the catalogue. The Container Store has been my favorite store to shop for stocking stuffers and holiday wrapping for several years now. Their selection is unmatched, and the quality of the products is worth the extra expense. Perhaps it also has to do with how clean and organized the store is: OCD strikes again!

Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s catalogue:

For Everyone: The Guard Your ID Roller. I might buy them out of stock because this product is genius. While I’ve been a fan of the Bed Bath and Beyond version (a simple stamp) this one allows you to block out information on objects of all shapes: like, say, prescription pill bottles. Blocking out your important information (name, address, account or prescription numbers) leaves less paper to shred, and therefore more time for holiday cheer.

For the Jet Setter: The RuMeID QR Decals & Luggage Tags. Gone are the days of writing out your name, address, phone number and email on your luggage for all to see. Did this make anyone else terribly nervous?! With these contemporary luggage tags you create a digital way of tracking any bags that may be misplaced by those overworked and underpaid airport employees. Bonuses: you can also tag important belongings like iPads, smart phones, and maybe even Fido? Furthermore the decals are scratch-proof and weather resistent, while the luggage tags are made from recycled materials! Who needs a white Christmas when you can have a green Christmas?!

For your Host(ess): Tumble Trivets. An apparent throw-back to the old Jacks game, these clever tiny silicon gizmos are a modern take on the traditional trivet. Not to worry, these little guys come with their own container, are safe for extremely hot temps, and can fit a variety of cooking tools: cookie sheets, pots, or your corn-ware.

For Her: The In.bag Handbag Organizer. Do you know someone who is constantly alternating handbags to match her outfit or keep up with the current season? Well, this is the product for them. Not only does it keep the interior of your bag safe from ink stains or snags, it allows women to swap handbags in one quick, organized second. This is the perfect accompaniment to the handbag you’re planning to purchase to put under the tree. If only Santa’s bag was this organized.

For Him: Smart Chargers. Fact: Men love techie stuff. Fact: Men hate running out of power – battery power, that is. Therefore this is the perfect gift for the man in your life. Not only is this great for the holidays (no one wants to wait and charge items when they could be watching/using/playing them!) but it will be great all year round! Just think of how many people could’ve kept connected with this device during Hurricane Sandy? Smart indeed.

For the Kids: The Macaroon Earbud Holders. These colorful holders are the perfect way to tame tangled wires. The best news: it suctions to your iPhone or iPad so they won’t get lost. I’m sensing a fad amongst school children with these thingamajigs. Maybe I’m a kid at heart because I can’t wait to get one of these for myself! Is it Christmas morning yet?!?!

These are just a few of the great stocking stuffers available at The Container Store. Run, don’t walk, before their supplies sell out!

to tote, or not to tote…

i enjoy the challenge of packing light so when it comes to jewelry, i typically leave my baubles at home. i’m pretty minimal when it comes to jewelry so it’s easy enough to pick my favorite pieces to wear on the plane and i’m set for any adventure. but if i had to take extra options, it’d be easy enough with these stylish organizers. inside you’ll find two zip pockets, a ring roll, and snap closures on each end to prevent necklace tangling. do you travel with jewelry? do you pack in your checked bag or board plane with your gems? and what are your favorite organizers to transport them?

ame & lulu jewelry clutch

1. citrus

2. dynasty

3. blue herringbone

4. twine

for the love of the tag

misplacing (aka losing) your phone will usually result in yelling all sorts of explicatives in an empty room in your home while your pets look at you quizzically. but, if you had turly tag, you might not yell at all. turly tag is a service  where you’re shipped a set of tags and stickers to put on your luggage, laptops and other valuables. if lost, the finder will call in, give them the id# and your treasured belonging is then shipped to you—free of charge. a monthly service fee of $3 isn’t so bad to keep good karma on your side.



5 tips to decluttering your travel toiletries

when i travel, i always challenge myself to pack light and never check a bag. which means i’ve got a stocked travel toiletries bin in the hallway cabinet. and while you would think it would be easy to keep these mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner to a bare minimum, they somehow multiply quite easily. 5 tips on keeping your toiletry inventory at its best… Continue reading

coming soon!

so last week, i drove down to san diego for napo national conference  and had a b-last! i wrote about it here in my monthly newsletter where i highlighted some rad new efficiency tools and products. i’m continuing to stuff you full of more organizing goodies this week. first up… pliio. but as i said in the title of this post, it’s not available yet (double damn). but to be totally honest, i don’t think i’d ever use this folding tool in a clients home for two reasons. #1 ; that’s a whole lotta upkeep. #2; it can get to be expensive. i would, however, recommend the heck out of this product for your clothes when traveling. the items will be (almost) wrinkle free upon arriving and you can stuff your carry on full and avoid the checked bag fee. follow clare kumar (creator) on facebook and i’ll definitely keep you posted when pliio is available to the public.

waste not, want not

this is so annoying. every time i travel, i forget to use the excess lotion that naturally dispenses when you push the pump down to ‘twist and lock’ for packing. it’s extremely frustrating for a number of reasons. number one; the excess lotion is just staring back at me from the sink, screaming “waaaaaaaaaaaste!” and two; i could have used the lotion on myself before leaving on the long trip. and three; i always forget! ugh.


for me, there are plenty of benefits to packing light for air travel. there’s no waiting at the kiosk for checked baggage at your final destination, no fees means more money to spend on reading materials for your trip and packing time is cut in half. but alas, this past week, my mom insisted that i check a bag. her reasoning? i would be traveling to SC for christmas where i would be given lots of presents to return to LA with (and my small bag wouldn’t have enough room to fit it all). i stood my ground but in the end, we compromised. my flight from LAX to CLT consisted of my bag that i carried on the plane. for the return flight, i ended up doing the same thing but also checking an older suitcase that my sister-in-law no longer needed—and was actually going to donate after the holidays. now that i’m back, i can continue her mission and donate the large suitcase that i’d probably never use again (and have no place to store). if you’re wanting to save fees and the hassle of checking a bag (at least one way) you might also consider picking up a larger suitcase from a thrift store to donate once you return home. this is especially helpful if you’ve picked up souvenirs for friends and family that just won’t fit in the suitcase you brought.

image; heather