Pack like a pro with these tips from an airline employee

Hawaii Stories

Adventure Hawaii is Our Home

Pack like a pro with these tips from an airline employee

Learn about our employee’s favorite packing tips as you prepare for your upcoming trip.

As an airline employee, I like to travel as much as I can. With frequent weekend trips to the Neighbor Islands, or longer vacations to any of our 22 Mainland or international destinations, you can often find me jetting off, with luggage in tow. Over the years, I’ve picked up a number of packing and travel tips that I’m excited to share.

luggage image courtesy of Melissa T.

Above: Photo courtesy of Melissa T.

Tip: Use packing cubes

I love keeping my suitcase organized with packing cubes or pouches. I can neatly roll my clothes in them and it's easy to find whatever I need by grouping items this way. I typically pack cubes or pouches for make-up, hair care, toiletries and swimsuits. My favorite pouches are from Aloha Collection, as they have many different sizes, cute prints and are all machine washable.

plan your outfit image courtesy of Melissa T.

Above: Photo courtesy of Melissa T.

Tip: Plan your outfits

It's easy to overpack when you're not sure what outfits you want to wear, and overpacking clothes means that there’s less room for shopping and gifts to bring back home in your luggage. Personally, I like to pack neutral-colored tops, that way you can mix and match your clothes to create multiple outfits using fewer articles of clothing.

Tip: Wear your heavy jacket on the plane

Chances are, you’re going to pack a jacket, coat or cardigan for your trip to keep you warm in the evenings or in the day, depending on the location or season. Why take up precious room in your suitcase when you can simply wear it on the plane? Many airlines have cooler cabins as well, so it’s a double win to save space and keep warm while in flight!

Tip: Pack your shoes in shower caps

Every time I stay at a hotel, I take the complimentary shower caps amenity and save them for my next trip. They make the best covers to pack your shoes in without taking up a lot of space. In particular, they cover the bottom of the shoes which is typically the dirtiest, as the top of shoes are usually a lot cleaner.

toiletries image courtesy of Melissa T.

Above: Photo courtesy of Melissa T.

Tip: Pack your toiletries last

This is a critical step as you prepare for your day of travel! It’s never fun to have to dig through your neatly packed suitcase to get your face wash or toothbrush the morning you’re about to leave. Another reason to pack your toiletries last is to avoid forgetting your everyday items at home. I'll typically set my toiletries bag aside on my bathroom counter, and as I go through my morning routine before I leave for the airport, I'll place each item in the bag after I finish using it. After I'm done with my routine, I've got all the items I use every day in that bag, and then I place it right on top in my suitcase. Another tip I recommend when it comes to toiletries is to use the hotel shampoo, conditioner and body wash to save on luggage space.

carry on items image courtesy of Melissa T.

Above: Photo courtesy of Melissa T.

Tip: Strategize your carry-on bag

Packing a carry-on is crucial – you want to be sure you have items that you’ll need for the flight, but also avoid over-packing. Here’s a few of my favorite items in my carry-on bag:

  • Bring snacks! One of my biggest pet peeves is spending money at the airport on snacks for the airplane. When I'm on vacation, I like spending my money at my destination, not at the airport. I pack my snacks in reusable silicone bags so that I can save some for later, like when we're waiting at the rental car facility. Luckily, when you fly on Hawaiian Airlines, we offer complimentary meals during mealtimes, so you may not eat all of your snacks by the time you land!
  • Use pouches. In addition to my check-in luggage, I also make sure to have a few pouches in my carry-on bag, each organized by their own category. I have a pouch full of hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, face wipes, and some extra face masks. I have another pouch of all my chargers for my phone, iPad, apple watch, portable battery bank, etc. And in another pouch, I have my glasses, contacts case and a spare toothbrush/toothpaste, for emergencies in case something happens, and I can't access my luggage in a timely manner.
  • Keep it simple. I try to keep my carry-on simple and consolidated so that I'm not carrying extra items. To accomplish this, I like to download games on my phone or iPad, books that I'm interested in reading, and a TV show from Netflix.
  • Bring an empty water bottle with ice cubes. The first part of the tip is to bring a reusable water bottle, and the second part is that TSA allows ice cubes in your water bottle, as long as there's no additional liquid with it. Once we pass TSA, I'll fill up my Yeti water bottle at a water fountain or go to the convenience store and buy a water bottle. I now have ice cold water for the entire plane ride!

Tip: Stay organized with labeled or color-coded bags

One of the tips my family and friends have used when traveling with their kids is utilizing gallon-size Ziploc bags to keep their items organized! An alternative is to use color-coded packing cubes or apply labels. Packing bags this way is great for packing daily outfits for your children. You can easily write on the bags and label whose clothes are inside and for what day of the trip they'll wear the outfit(s). Each day, just pull out one of the bags and you're good to go, neatly organized and no searching your suitcase or mixing up everyone's clothes. Ziplocs or reusable silicone bags are also great for packing toiletries, sunscreens, etc. If something leaks, it will be contained in the bag and not get all over the items in your luggage.

Whether you’re hopping between the islands or packing for a two-week blissful vacation, I hope you’ll find these tips useful. With my many trips over the years, it’s made packing a lot easier and less stressful! Happy travels.


Story By Melissa T.

December 10, 2021