How To Pack Sunglasses Without Breaking Them

After a long flight, you're checked in, unpacked, and now ready to lounge on the beach or explore the streets of your new, sunshine-filled surroundings. Reaching into your bag, you grab your daily wearers, only to find popped lenses and bent frames. In the fury of the midday sun, you're now squinting your way to the nearest gas station for a pair of throw-around shades. Your vacation will have to wait.

A terrifying yet all-to-common travel story, discovering broken sunglasses is no fun, especially if they're particularly expensive, particularly cool, or both. Your sunglasses may be the most fragile and expensive item of clothing you'll pack for your trip, so packing them with care is important.

To keep your sunglasses safe, an old but wise adage is to keep them either on your face or in their case. While this is good advice, you may need to improvise a bit if you don't own a hard case or prefer not to pack one. Whether you wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, actually see, or slay like the fashionable traveler you are, packing your sunglasses correctly can prevent them and your heart from breaking.

Packing sunglasses in a checked bag

First and foremost, let's speak about packing options. In almost all situations, it's unwise (madness) to pack your sunglasses in a checked bag. But if you're packing multiple pairs of sunglasses or, for some reason, prefer not to pack them in your carry-on luggage or wear them, then you'll definitely want to pack them as safely as possible. Trust us, your bags will be tossed around in transit.

If you're packing them in a checked bag, then we'll reiterate that a hard case (or well-padded soft case) is your best bet. However, if you don't own a case, there are a few packing hacks to consider. Place your sunglasses in a sock to prevent scratches and toss them in a Tupperware-type container. Or, if space is an issue, place your sock-covered sunglasses into a packed shoe to protect them from being crushed. Even if they're protected by a case, it's typically still wise to place your sunglasses in the middle of your clothes. This can provide a bit of extra protection as your luggage tumbles through the ether. 

Packing sunglasses in a carry-on bag

A saner option is to pack your sunglasses in a carry-on or personal bag when flying. Since you're now the only one that can manhandle your belongings on the plane, you'll need to be mindful that they're in there. If your sunglasses are unprotected, we'd suggest still placing them in a sock to prevent scratches. And instead of packing them in the middle of a carry-on, as you should with checked luggage, we suggest placing your sunglasses in an exterior pocket or at the top of your luggage. By doing so, you can carefully arrange your carry-on in a way that keeps pressure off your frames during the flight.

Finally, the best way to keep your sunglasses safe when traveling is to wear them, whether it's on your head, around your neck, or on your face like a rockstar. That said, resist the urge to stow your sunglasses in the seatback pocket when flying. The seatback pocket is one of the dirtiest places on airplanes. Your sunglasses may stay safe in there, but they're now sort of gross.