How to Pack Sunglasses for Travel

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Sunglasses are a crucial item for any traveller – they protect your eyes from the sun and keep you looking stylish on your holiday. But if you’re not careful, they can easily be damaged if you don’t pack them properly in your luggage.

In this blog post, we’ll show you the best way to pack your sunglasses for travel, using a weekender bag or a seasoned suitcase. We’ll also discuss the best kind of protective sunglasses case to prevent your frame from being squashed or damaged.

So whether you’re going away for a weekend trip or travelling abroad for a longer getaway, follow this helpful guide on how to pack your sunglasses safely.

What is the best sunglasses case for travel?

For travel, it’s important to use a sunglasses case that is as good looking as it is protective.

Of course, this depends on your destination whether it be a ski holiday in Verbier or a sunny escape to Bali. Either way, when it comes to choosing a case for your sunglasses, there are two main options: soft cases and hard cases.

Soft cases are generally very slimline and take up very little room when empty. Subsequently, they’re much lighter and easier to pack than a hard sunglasses case. Away on holiday, slipping your sunglasses in and out is made much easier, especially if the case can compress or fold flat inside your bag or pocket.

However, soft cases aren’t as protective as hard cases. Whilst they prevent scuffs and scratches, they lack structure or any impact resistance. In other words, your sunglasses could easily be squashed, risking their hinges and UV protective lenses.

Hard cases are a much better option for packing your sunglasses for travel. With a hard shell and structural reinforcement, they’re much better at protecting your glasses from being crushed in your luggage. Their only downside of hard cases is they can be bulkier and more difficult to pack.

To help reduce bulk, luxury glasses cases made from thin metal are the slimmest but most protective way to store your sunglasses. Their sturdy exterior shell safely cocoons your frame and prevents them being crushed.

A nice benefit of a hinged hard case is their tactile simplicity. After adorning your sunglasses, you can easily close them with one hand which makes them easier to use if you have your hands full. Oh, and they make an addictive sound when you snap it shut.

Should I pack sunglasses in my hand luggage?

In a 2022 report, global airline lost luggage rates spiked by 24% in 2021 alone. If you’re the unlucky type, yours could well-be part of the 4.35 bags per thousand passengers that go missing.

Whether you’re heading abroad or just making a domestic flight, it’s imperative that you keep your most crucial possessions to-hand. Amongst your phone, wallet, passport (and perhaps some spare underwear), your eyewear should be packed in your hand luggage, especially if you use prescription sunglasses.

With the aviation industry amidst a post-pandemic bounce back and mishandled baggage rates on the rise, it’s definitely a good idea to keep your sunglasses in your hand luggage. For bright weather or destination car hire, sunglasses are better on your face than amongst a pile of stray suitcases… somewhere else.

Where do you put your sunglasses when travelling?

When you aren’t wearing your sunglasses, it’s best to keep them inside their protective hard case within your rucksack or day bag, ideally in a front pocket or near the top of your pack. This offers quick access to your sunglasses and makes it easy to put them on when you need protection from the sun.

If you’re travelling through developing countries or cities with questionable crime rates, you’ll want to avoid distracting yourself by digging through your bag on the street. The quicker you can access your sunglasses, the safer your possessions will be and your UV exposure will be kept to a minimum.

As a packing tip, it’s best to keep your ‘reactive’ items as the most easily accessed. A lightweight rain coat, sun cream, drinking water and your sunglasses will keep you prepared for weather changes as they come and go.

How do you store sunglasses in a suitcase? 

If you’re using a suitcase or holdall, the best way to store your sunglasses is inside their protective case, ideally between or inside a spare pair of shoes. This will stop them from getting squashed by heavier items and those ruffian “rampies” (airport slang for baggage handlers).

With their hinged temples (arms) and delicate lenses, sunglasses are easily broken. The last thing you need is to arrive at your destination, only to discover they’ve been broken during transit. Whether you’re skiing or sunbathing, sunglasses are crucial for UV protection, so it’s best to keep them safe so they’re ready to wear at the fun-end of your holiday.

How do I protect my sunglasses when travelling?

To protect your sunglasses when travelling, the two safest places for them are either ‘on your face or in their case’. (This rhyme makes it easy to remember.)

By wearing your sunglasses properly, you reduce the likelihood of damage. Avoid hanging them off the collar of your shirt or worse, wearing them on top of your head. Either or these bad habits mean they could fall to the floor or the frame becoming misshapen from being stretched too wide.

Heading somewhere hot?

If you’re travelling to a hot country, be mindful of where you keep your sunglasses. Car dashboards get mighty hot and pose a threat to sunglasses made of plastic.

Premium sunglasses frames made from materials such as acetate are susceptible to warping in high temperatures above 40°C / 100°F. Because the frame is made of a semi-natural material, they become soft inside ferociously hot cars or small enclosed spaces like their hard case, especially if it’s a dark colour that attracts the sun.

If it’s crazy hot outside, the best place to keep your sunglasses is most likely on your face. During the hottest hours of the day, UV levels soar, therefore keeping your eyes protected and wearing sun cream are critical for skin safety.

How do you wear sunglasses around your neck?

If you use prescription sunglasses, perhaps consider using a frame chain or sunglasses strap. Worn around your neck, they’re more easily accessed for reading directions, signs, food menus or exploring your holiday destination.

Sunglasses straps are a great way to keep your sunglasses safe and easily accessible. They come in a variety of materials, including fabric, leather and plastic, and can be purchased from most eyewear retailers.

Most sunglasses straps have a simple hook and loop closure system that makes them easy to put on and take off. Sunglasses straps are also adjustable, so they can be made to fit snugly around your head or neck.

If you’re using prescription sunglasses, it’s a good idea to invest in a good quality sunglasses strap. This will help to keep your sunglasses safe and prevent them from becoming damaged.

How to pack sunglasses for travel without a case

If you don’t have a protective sunglasses case, there are a number of ways you can pack them safely to prevent scratched lenses or the frame being crushed. These methods include;

  • Pack them inside a clean sock
  • Pack them inside a glove
  • Pack them inside a stiff shoe
  • Pack them inside a ski boot
  • Pack them inside a food container

If you’ve lost your sunglasses case, the best solution is just to buy another one. They’re readily available online or via high street optical practices. Sunglasses cases are good at protecting your frame because they’re made from a sturdy and durable material and soft-lined with microfibre to prevent scratches. The case will protect the glasses from being squashed or damaged when travelling.

Do you need sunglasses on holiday?

When you go on holiday, it’s important to make sure you’re protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Sunscreen is essential for your skin, but sunglasses are just as important for your eyes.

Sunglasses offer protection from the sun’s glare, which can cause headaches and eyestrain. They also protect your eyes from UV exposure, which can lead to cataracts and other eye diseases.

If you’re going on holiday, make sure to pack a good pair of sunglasses that offer maximum UV protection. Look for sunglasses that have a UV rating of 400 or higher. If you’re going on a ski holiday, make sure to pack a pair of goggles or sports sunglasses that offer the same UV400 protection.

Sunglasses are a must-have item for any outdoor holiday. Make sure to pack them in your luggage so you can enjoy your time outdoors without worrying about the health of your eyes.

A quick word about buying sunglasses abroad

If you purchase sunglasses abroad, it’s worth mentioning the issue of legitimacy. Depending on your location (and the vendor) black market sunglasses can be hazardous.

Whilst RayBan rip-offs are plentiful, it’s really the lenses you should pay attention to. Illegitimate sun lenses can leave your eyes completely unprotected from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Unfiltered UVA and UVB light is incredibly damaging to your eyes and surrounding skin, therefore you should always check for the UV40 or UV400 rating. Additionally, any CE or ANZI markings on the sunglasses also certify the frame provides sufficient eye protection against the sun.

Oh, and one more thing…

Darker lenses doesn’t mean your sunglasses are more protective.

Tint darkness has nothing to do with UV protection and merely provides visual comfort. In fact, dark tinted lenses without UV protection actually makes your eyes more susceptible to sun damage. As your pupils dilate behind the dark lenses, they’re even more exposed to UV light.

In most circumstances, it’s best to purchase your sunglasses through a reputable vendor or shop who can certify the lenses UV protection.

Can I bring sunglasses on a plane?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to bring your sunglasses aboard a plane. There’s no reason you cannot wear, carry or have your sunglasses in your hand luggage whilst in the airport or on board.

Whilst there are few reasons to need your sunglasses mid-flight, you may need them at your destination where the weather may be brighter or you need them for prescription or light sensitivity purposes.

When passing through an airport, it’s probably a good idea not to wear your sunglasses inside. If you need to speak with airport staff or security, restricting your eye-contact isn’t a good look and would probably get you the wrong kind of attention.

Do sunglasses set off metal detectors?

Heading through airport security, spectacles or sunglasses are unlikely to set off metal detectors. Unless your frame uses a large amount of metal in their construction, eyewear isn’t usually an issue when passing through these detection systems.

On the other hand, metal sunglasses cases are much more likely to trigger airport security and are best kept in your hand luggage where they can be scanned separately. If you’re the anxious type and would rather avoid the frisk, just keep your frame in your hard case in your bag.

How to keep your sunglasses clean whilst travelling

Sunglasses can get dirty very easily, especially if you’re travelling and doing a lot of outdoor activities. Skin products like sun cream, moisturiser of after-sun can build upon your frame and lenses making them greasy. Here are a few tips on how to keep your sunglasses clean whilst you’re on vacation.

  1. Use a lens cleaning cloth to clean your sunglasses lenses. These can be found in most eyewear stores or pharmacies. Make sure to use a fresh cloth each time you clean your lenses, as dirt and dust can build up in their fibres and cause scratches.
  2. If you’re not near a lens cleaning cloth, just use a mild hand soap and water to clean your lenses. Rinse off any soap and leave them to drip dry before putting your sunglasses back on. Avoid using your clothes to dry your frame as their fibres are too rough on your lenses.
  3. To remove any skin products, avoid using harsh chemicals or household cleaners to clean your sunglasses, as this can damage the lenses and frames.
  4. Store your sunglasses in their protective hard case when not in use. This will help to protect them from scratches, dust and other debris.

Wrapping up

With the right protective case, packing your sunglasses for travel is easy. Primarily, you’ll want to make sure they’re well protected from scratches and scuffs. On the other hand you’ll want a case that doesn’t take up too much space in your luggage.

Key points

  1. Use a protective case that will keep them safe during transit. For the best protection, a hard shell sunglasses case is the best option.
  2. It’s best to keep your sunglasses in your hand luggage, especially if they use prescription sun lenses.
  3. If you do pack your sunglasses in your suitcase or holdall, position the case between or inside a spare pair of shoes for extra impact-protection.
  4. Keep your sunglasses on your face or in their case to protect them whilst travelling.
  5. In your bag, pack your sunglasses near the top or in a front pocket so they’re easily accessed.
  6. Extreme heat can warp your sunglasses. Avoid keeping acetate frames inside hot cars.
  7. If you lose your sunglasses case, pack your sunglasses inside a sock within a food container, shoe or ski boot to prevent them being squashed in your luggage.
  8. When buying sunglasses abroad, make sure the lenses have UV40/UV400 protection and look out for any CE or ANZI markings.
  9. Darker lenses only reduce visible light and don’t make them any more UV protective
  10. Sunglasses can be taken through airport security and aren’t likely to set off metal detectors

This article was written by Jamie Bartlett, founder of Banton Frameworks.

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