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With the new checked baggage screening procedures in place, the Transportation Security Administration has offered a few packing strategies to make your next trip as smooth as possible:

  • Keep all checked bags unlocked; if your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the locks to get inside. Skip the locks to avoid any damage to your luggage and instead use plastic cable ties.
  • Do not over-pack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.
  • Carry all film with you onboard, as some new screening equipment can damage underdeveloped film.
  • Place any packed belongings you don't feel comfortable with strangers handling in clear plastic bags.
  • Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other within your baggage, spread out such items.
  • When packing your clothes, you don't want to neatly fold them individually as you would in a dresser. If you do, they will crease when compressed. There are several different approaches to packing a few of which I've summarized below.

Rolling Your Clothes

Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts and sports shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.

Fold Clothes Together

Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you've folded it so it's less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds.

The Bundle Approach

This ingenious method of packing which I learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of the "The Packing Book," has now become my favorite. It's a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but I'll do my best. You need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular "core" with dimensions that are at least half to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.

Start with the longest, most wrinkle prone item you have or your sports jacket. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag, flatten your piece of clothing against the bottom of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.

When you finish, place your "core" in the middle. Now you're going to start folding the garments over the core and each other in the reverse order you put them in. If you fold something over and there's excess draping over the sides of the bag, tuck it underneath the bundle you are creating.

What you will end up with is a bundle of all of your clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece. It's compactly packed and doesn't waste an available space in your luggage. Plus, because of the way things are folded, your clothes will wrinkle less.

To find something in the bundle, lay it flat and unwrap until you reach the layer you want. Take the item out and refold the remainder. If done properly each layer should result in a self contained bundle at each layer.

Tissue Paper

For delicate items, try tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. I only use this approach for evening clothes that I don't want to crush.

This article appears courtesy of Independent Traveler. Independent Traveler (www.IndependentTraveler.com) includes a comprehensive travel planning guide featuring worldwide travel bargains (airfare, hotel, car rental, cruise, family vacations) within their Bargain Box (www.BargainBox.com)- as well as travel resources, travel tips, reader's reviews and message boards. The Independent Traveler also publishes Cruise Critic (www.CruiseCritic.com).