Military Travelers Packing Tips

The name of the game in packing any kind of bag or luggage is to avoid spilling anything liquid and to avoid wrinkles. No website has all of the answers but we hope to give you some ideas.  The start of this article gives general tips for all types of bags... then we get to specific tips for Suitcases and Duffel/Sea Bags.

Rule Number One: Pack Light!

Lay out everything you will need and then leave half of it behind and you are probably still taking too much. Unless you are going to Antarctica you can always buy the little items you just have to have that you left behind.  And FedEx can deliver anything practically anywhere if you get to your destination and realize that you absolutely have to have it overnight.

Rule Number Two: Spillproof Containers are your friend!

No matter what type of bag you are packing, you will want to avoid spilling any liquids on your clothes or equipment. For this you should place those containers holding liquid items inside a DOUBLE-SEALED Ziploc bag. This way if the liquid does escape its normal container it may be contained. Sealed containers work even better than Ziploc bags but are more bulky. Try to pack the liquids in your baggage so that they are upright when carried. You must think ahead about how you will normally carry your luggage to do this successfully.

Rule Number Three: Military uniforms are prone to wrinkles.

Such is life. One way to minimize wrinkles is to wear your uniform on the plane. If you do have to pack it away here are a few tips:

  • Weight on top yields wrinkles on clothes underneath. Pack your uniform on top of your other clothes with a plastic bag to cover it. The plastic bag will serve as a buffer between the side of the bag (which may be dirty) as well as a dirty clothes bag should you need one.
  • Unpack your bag ASAP after you get into your hotel room. It may be inconvenient but it will cut down on the wrinkles. It will also let you limit the damage in case anything spilled inside your bag.
  • Pack a couple of plastic coat hangers in your bag in case you need to put your uniform in the bathroom to steam some wrinkles out. Many hotels use hangers that don't come out of the closet. Do not use metal hangers unless you want rust marks on your uniforms.

Last But Not Least: All of this does no good if your luggage does not arrive! 

Airlines will pay you for your lost luggage but unlike civilian travellers you cannot run down to a local department store and buy the clothes/uniforms you need.  To help insure your luggage arrives at your destination be sure to put your itenarary both inside and outside each bag that you check.  ON TOP OF THAT print out a picture of your luggage so that you can show it to your airline's Lost Luggage personnel if your bags turn up missing... in this case, a picture really is worth a thousand words!

Packing a Suitcase:

Owning the right kind of suitcase is critical. You want a HARD-SHELL suitcase with wheels for luggage that is to be checked. We recommend the Samsonite line. Black is the best color for hiding scuffs as well as security purposes (watch the Tom Hanks movie "The Man With One Red Shoe" to see how easy it is for a team of criminals to keep track of someone or something out of the ordinary in an airport). See our Best Luggage note for more information.

Packing a Duffel Bag or Seabag:

Name of the game here is to put items that you need to wear soonest on top because the items on the bottom will get the most wrinkles due to all of the weight. Usually the best bet is to place those items that may leak UNDERNEATH the items that you have to wear immediately but on top of the rest so that you can get to them easily. If possible, place the clothes that you need to wear immediately in their own sealed bags.


For more tips on packing for a trip:

You can Google for many suggestions on how to pack specific items, but the best website we have found for showing how to pack a suitcase is which has graphics demonstrating how to actually fold your clothes to avoid wrinkles when packing. also has an excellent how-to guide on packing different kinds of bags (including Overnight Bags, Suitcases, Garment Bags, and Duffel Bags).


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