If an airline has ever lost your luggage, you know just how disruptive it can be to your travels. Sure, if you pack smart, you’ve probably thrown a few essentials in your carry-on, but an extra sweater, pants and swimsuit aren’t going to get you far. RELATED: 8 Ways to Make Sure an Airline Doesn’t Lose Your Bag

Is double packing a smart packing strategy?Smart packing is a must when you’re traveling if you want to be organized and if you don’t want to spend the time and money trying to buy all the things you left behind at home. 

I’m a big fan of packing lists. Using the NOTES app on my phone, I’ve created a Master Packing List that’s broken down by family member. Before each trip, I copy the master list and make a new one and adapt it for my destination (hot weather, cold weather, cruise, etc). Here’s more on how I create my master packing list

Years ago, I chatted with a friend who’s a frequent flyer and asked her for her best packing tip to avoid panic packing … you know, last-minute packing that’s so crazed you forget at least half a dozen must-haves. I loved her tip. She said: “I’ve found that when I’m panic-packing, it’s always crucial toiletry items that get left behind – probably because they’re small and plenty. So awhile back, I bought another one of everything I need to get ready in the morning (even my makeup essentials and hairdo hardware), and I always keep my travel toiletries bag fully packed and ready to go.”

I think this idea of having a duplicate toiletry bag always packed and ready to go is brilliant. Especially because I always need those items right up until the last minute before leaving on a trip so I can’t pack them in my suitcase early. This solution solves that dilemma nicely.

But what about double packing suitcases when you travel? According to Brittany Hughes, a well-traveled historian and antiquities expert, she always packs two identical (or near-identical) suitcases when she travels. 

In a recently published article on Bloomberg, she says: “I always pack two suitcases, even if that means there’s excess to pay. They’ll have either identical things in each one, or almost a copy, sort of like mirror suitcases.”

She goes on to say: “It means if you lose one, you’ve still got enough clothes. I first traveled alone when I was 15. I was so petrified of the idea of ending up there and being a kind of burden. That’s when I started the double-packing thing.”

According to the article, on a recent trip, Hughes decided to take a chance and not heed her own advice. She said: “For once,” I thought, “I’m going to take one bag. What could go wrong?” But apparently, things did go wrong and Lufthansa lost Hughes’ bag, leaving her without clothes and makeup for the public lecture she had traveled to Italy to give. “It did turn up four or five weeks later, but I’d learned my lesson,” she said. 

I completely understand where she’s coming from. I wouldn’t want to arrive at my destination sans clothes and makeup either (although I never pack my small makeup bag in my checked luggage). But packing two identical suitcases? I can’t decide if it’s bizarre or brilliant. 

The double packing strategy definitely won’t work for me. I always travel with my family (me, my husband and two children) so double packing for everyone is absolutely not going to happen. In our case, our strategy is to put some clothes for everyone in each bag (we typically travel with two checked suitcases), so if one gets lost, we’ll all still have some clothes in the other. 

But for solo travelers, this packing hack might have some value. However, while the chances of an airline losing your bag might feel high, in realty, it’s not. According to Chipolo, “when you combine all airline traffic with the number of lost bags, there is less than a 1% chance your luggage will get misplaced or lost.” But if falling within that 1% feels like a risk you don’t want to take, chances are slimmer still that an airline would lose two of your bags so I suppose it stands to reason that by double packing, you’ll always have what you need.

I’m just not sure I can wrap my mind around packing two identical suitcases. Can you?


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5 Comments On "Double Packing: Frequent Traveler Suggests Suitcase Strategy That’s Either Bizarre or Brilliant"
  1. Stacy Stark|

    I’m thinking I if I do that, I should take into consideration the added weight and space on the airplane.

  2. Barbara|

    As a solo traveler that definitely wouldn’t work for me. At 78 if the luggage is not lost I can’t imagine pulling two suitcases plus my backpack around as I move from location to location. A carry on and backpack is enough. With the advent of leggings and T’s and a black sweater. I can put a weeks worth of clothes in my backpack when I feel like checking my bag. Haven’t been able to figure out how to put an extra pair of shoes in my backpack any suggestions?

  3. Robert|

    I pack the essentials in a backpack carry-on and one change of clothes (and one swimsuit if going somewhere tropical). This will have all the electronics I need too. I’ll have my wife pack a beach bag as her carryon, but put that inside a softside with hard insert cooler from California Innovations that has traveled around the World with me for nearly two decades. This set up fits perfectly underneath the seat, and now you have a light cooler when you get to your destination. For the main suitcase, a 20″ so I can carry it on if the aforementioned luggage qualifies at a One+, I’ll only pack for three days, choosing clothes I can mix and match. This is regardless of how long I stay. No one cares what you’re wearing and the photos won’t tell. Women can typically pack more, as their clothes are lighter and smaller. I’ll also wear two shirts and sometimes shorts under pants to fly, with a ScottEvest of course. Less stuff and more cash usually solve most of your problems travelling- and a good dose of roll with it attitude.

  4. E Douglas Jensen|

    I have a suitcase and a carry-on fully packed with everything I will need–grab and go. Almost everything in it is a duplicate of things I have and use at home.
    (I always ship my suitcase by FedEx, but this grab-and-go technique would work for checked or carry-on bags.)

  5. Micky|

    As a solo traveler, 2 suitcases sounds like a lot to manage. When flying to my daughter’s wedding, my checked bag managed to fly all the way through while I got stuck at an airport overnight. I had everything I needed as mother-of-the-bride in my day pack carry on: the dress made a great blanket.

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