Avoid spills and other suitcase disasters with these tips from seasoned vets.
- Do: Burp your bottles. Air trapped inside can cause plastic containers to leak when the air pressure changes, says Lucy McCauley, editor of the Travelers’ Tales’ Annual Best Women’s Travel Writing book collection. “Open the cap, give a little squeeze to let the excess air out, then quickly recap,” she says.
- Don’t: Overlook the protective powers of footwear, says Samantha Brown, who goes on the road as host of several Travel Channel shows, including Passport to China and Passport to Great Weekends: “I wrap perfume bottles in my socks and pack them inside my sneakers.” McCauley uses a variation on the theme, first slipping breakables into plastic bags, then sliding them into slippers.
- Do: Be clingy. To minimize leaks, “I put a layer of kitchen wrap between the cap and the opening of my shampoo and conditioner," says Ingrid Hoffmann, who frequently travels for work as host of the Food Network show Simply Delicioso.
- Don’t: Neglect nooks and crannies. “I stow liquids packed in resealable bags along the bottom of my checked bag,” says Lisa Trotter, an expedition leader for the New York City-based adventure-travel company Lindblad Expeditions. “They stay protected from breakage, given that the bottom of the suitcase is usually padded, and the clothes provide even more padding on top.” Trotter places waterproof gear (raincoat, wind pants) on top of the liquids. “But you could just as easily use a $3 plastic poncho,” she says.
- Do: Double-bag your self-tanner. “It stains, so this product calls for extra protection,” says Brown. “Even leakage inside a cosmetics case can be bad.”
- Don’t: Forget the 3-1-1 rule. Yes, it’s a pain, but it’s not changing anytime soon, says Lara Uselding, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration. Refresher: You can carry on one one-quart clear resealable plastic bag filled with liquids and gels in containers of three ounces or less.