Florida for Idiots: Summer 2010
Packing your suitcase and flight bags
Do you really need help packing your suitcase? No I didn't think so.
Oh, alright then, here's my advice for packing for Florida.

Before putting anything in your suitcase, line the bottom of it with a plastic bin liner or sheet. Ensure it's large enough to cover the entire base and sides. Have another one ready to place on top of your packed suitcase.

Why? Because Florida is renowned for some very heavy downpours. If it starts thundering and lightning just as the baggage handlers are unloading the suitcases they will abandon them on the tarmac. Funnily enough your suitcase then gets very wet, as does the contents, unless you have followed the above advice.

Incidentally, this applies doubly so on your return journey because you may have some very nice momentos of your holiday. It would be a shame to have them sodden when you arrive back home. On two occasions my suitacase has arrive at the baggage reclaim extremely wet; luckily because I followed my own advice the contents were bone dry. Otherwise it would have been a potential disaster!

Have a checklist of items to take. You can download a simple one here (in Excel spreadsheet format) and add some items important only to you (mp3 players, for example). Take this on holiday to make sure you have everything on your return journey.

Print or write out a large, A4 sized note that says "This suitcase belongs to:..." and enter your name, address and telephone number. Ideally laminate this note to protect it. Place this inside your suitacase (the lid is a good place because it normally is see through. If your suitcase ends up in Cairo at least they will know who owns it. And how to get it back to you, perhaps!

Remember that you can't pack anything sharp or pointed in your hand luggage. That includes tweezers, scissors, pen knives and so on. If found, they will be confiscated. Yup, those £20 Tweezerman tweezers just get dumped into a large bin at the airport security point. Shame.

Liquids can only be up to 100ml. That's the container size not just the actual quantity of liquid. This applies to perfume, shower gel, water bottles and so on.

Other things in your hand luggage should include your passport, tickets, insurance and finally your money and / or travellers cheques. It's also best to put all your jewelry, mobile phones, watches, bracelets and so forth into your hand luggage just before you pass through airport security or you will beep and be subjected to a thorough body search. Remember that sharp, pointy jewelry (eg brooches) will be confiscated so put all that sort of stuff in your suitcase.