Packing for Any Type of Weather While On Standby
Being a junior flight attendant, there are a few days every month I have to be on call. Sometimes I have to stand by at the airport, stepping in last minute to cover someone who doesn't report for duty. Not knowing where in the world they could send me to and for how long, I have to be prepared and plan for whatever.
How the hell do I do that? Simple. I have a foolproof blueprint that I follow when I pack for standby assignments. It varies by seasons of course, but the outline is the same. Even if you’re not a flight attendant, this info may be useful to you if you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations within a trip or just visiting someplace with bipolar weather. Ready? Ok cool.
THE RIGHT LUGGAGE
When I travel for work and for leisure, I ONLY use my carry on bag and tote. First off, I hate checking in bags. Ain’t nobody gat time for that. I’m a creature of habit and have fallen so in love with my luggage. It’s gone everywhere with me. I’ve even packed for two weeks in India with just this! Choosing the right luggage means being able to maximize what you can pack. My suitcase has the max dimensions allowed for a carry on bags and my tote is my “personal item”. If you don’t have a tote bag, make sure to also take a backpack, small duffel, large purse or whateva, because IT’S YOUR RIGHT. Take advantage of the 2 for 1 carry on deal, but don’t go overboard. The universal carry on size is 22" x 14" x 9”, and your second personal item should fit perfectly underneath the seat in front of you. Make sure your luggage meets this standard. Never pack to capacity in case you buy things on your trip. Now, I'm used to this luggage just because I use it constantly for work. Other people prefer and swear by duffels. Find what works for you and stick with it. Also, take the destination and type of trip into consideration. If you're going to be using a ton of public trans and moving around a ton, rollaboards may not be ideal.
Always pack a bathing suit/swim trunks. Always. I normally just keep one in my suitcase so it's there for every trip. It takes up little to no space and it’s better to have it than not. I mean, would you rather have to buy an ugly POS that you’d never wear again at a hotel gift shop or just have one on deck? Even if you might be going somewhere cold, you just neverrrr know if you’re gonna have a jacuzzi moment.
It’s pretty much been drilled into our heads that layers is the best way to keep warm. Packing layers keeps you prepared for any type of weather, because you can wear things that stand alone or you can pile on as much as necessary. So pack outfits that you can throw more clothes on top of and still look put together. Sweaters are bulky, so unless it’s winter, I prefer just packing a couple tops with long sleeves and a light jacket. Also, Heattech clothes from Uniqlo are a lifesaver! Heattech stuff retains heat, and are also really soft and really thin. It takes up little space and you can wear it alone or under clothes for added warmth.
I mean, besides for the obvious, workout clothes also doubles as an outfit for unplanned activities. Hiking? Biking? Or maybe just not trying to get your kicks dirty? For my first layover in Amsterdam I had only packed one outfit, a dress and booties. I was with two other new hires, and one of the pilots offered to take us on a bike tour around the countryside, stopping at bars along the way. That sounded amazing and I didn’t want to have FOMO, so I went. But my outfit made me look and feel like a complete idiot. I had to borrow someone's hoodie to tie around my waist and make the sleeves cover my hoo-ha while pedaling. Learn from my mistakes.
Ladies, please leave the full size products and entire MAC counter at home. Streamline your routine and take enough makeup to create a few looks and leave it at that! Guys, you don’t need that full size can of shaving cream and bottle of cologne. If you must, go get samples of your fave scent. Drugstores like CVS carry sets of travel-sized bottles and jars, perfect for creams, hair products, and cleansers, that are already in a clear, quart-sized bag. Keep your travel-sized shiz filled and ready, so you can just throw it your bag when it’s time to go and not have to think about packing liquids. This applies to flight attendants too. I know we love our full-sized products, but when you’re on standby you run the risk of getting sent to the UK. The UK has the strictest liquids rule, like ever in life. I mean, mascara counts as a liquid. Plus, full-sized products weigh you down, literally and figuratively. It takes too much time to check a bag and then wait for it after your flight. And to be honest, ramp guys give zero fux about your suitcase and what could be in it when they're tossing luggage onto the plane. Team never-check-a-bag what what!
Don’t overpack shoes. They take up the most space in your suitcase. Take a long hard look at your shoe rack and select the chosen one and hold it up in the air like Rafiki did to Simba. This pair will lay the foundation of your suitcase. Everything’s gotta go with those bad boys. Pick something that can transition from day to night. Throw in a pair of sandals/slides, too, if that wasn't your choice. Always best to have an open-toed pair in case it’s really hot where you’re going, and a closed-toe pair in case it’s chilly or rainy.
I personally like to pack my shoes at the bottom and on one side of my suitcase, that way it doesn’t feel like it’s going to topple over due to any weight imbalance. Flight attendants have to be a bit pickier, being that we have to rock our uniform to the airport. I usually take the 3 pairs of shoes (running shoes, sandals, and some sneakers or boots), but I know I'll be good with just 2 (closed toe and opened toe). If I'm traveling for leisure or working with friends, sometimes I'll add a pair of heels in the mix. This is extra but I like options and if I have the space, why not? Plan for the unexpected, just don't pack a different pair of shoes for each outfit in your suitcase.
I know packing can be sooo frustrating, especially when you're not sure what to take for weird weather. Don't feel like you have to take your whole closet on a trip, because you don't! You're not moving bro. When it comes to packing for multiple climates, versatility is the major key alert here. Pick jeans that can be dressed up or down. Choose tops that go interchangeably with all of the bottoms you take. Pack cute sandals that you can wear to the beach and wear out (fellas, this doesn't apply to you, as you shouldn't wear sandals anywhere BUT the beach....we'll take a hard pass on seeing those toes). Take boots that go with everything and can transition from your day to night fits. Get athletic shoes that are great for working out but are also fly and can be worn with regular clothes. And don't forget a hat in case it rains or the sun is just blazing outside. Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes and a jacket to the airport (remember planes are cold!), leaving even more space inside your bags.
Here's what I was able to pack in this picture:
pair of jeans
2 long sleeve shirts
a track jacket
laptop (in the front sleeve of my suitcase)
I packed enough clothes to create enough lewks to last me a week without outfit repeating, and my suitcase isn't even full to the brim! I normally take less than this because I'm only gone for 3 days max, but just wanted to demonstrate what can fit inside a carry on bag. Plus I still have a tote bag to work with (which I put my toiletries, accessories, chargers, camera and a book in, leaving a lot of room for any trinkets I might bring back). If you choose to take a small duffle instead of a tote (which I do sometimes when I'm not working), it would give you a lot more space.
Hope this info is useful! This is what works for me. You'll find what works for you through trial and error and will be a packing like a pro in no time.
What're your packing hacks? Please share!