Packing Light: How To Pack Carry-On Only

How To Pack For Carry-On Only

Packing carry-on only is an incredibly liberating habit to get into. Doing so will not only allow you to avoid those nasty checked-baggage fees, it will also save you precious minutes at the baggage carousel and give you peace of mind knowing where your belongings are at all times.

While the decision to ditch the checked bag has many benefits, it also requires sacrifice and a fair bit of planning.

How To Pack For Carry-On Only

How To Pack Carry-On Only

 Choose The Right Bag

Packing carry-on only begins with choosing the right bag. First, check your airline’s website for size restrictions, and then choose a bag that complies. We have used this one by Nicole Miller and, given its two separate sides, found it great for organizing. Plus, the spinner wheels are a must-have when trying to maneuver airports and train stations!

Read more: The Best Carry-On Luggage

How To Pack Light For Carry-On Only

 Bring Versatile Clothing

Cut down on space and weight by bringing articles of clothing that can be used for more than one purpose. For example, bring a colorful pashmina that can act as a sarong, scarf, light blanket, cover-up, or privacy curtain.

Another versatility tip is to color coordinate your clothing. Keeping every item of clothing in your bag in the same general hue will give you more outfit choices than packing clothing from every color of the rainbow. I tend to bring signature pieces — such as jeans and shirts — in black or grey and dress up my outfits with colorful scarves and accessories like this turquoise bracelet.

Turquoise Bracelet Accessory

 Use Packing Cubes

Sorting your belongings into packing cubes is truly the best way to organize your bag. With packing cubes, if you’re in transit and are in need of something at the bottom of your luggage, you don’t need to take every item out and turn your packing job into chaos in the process! We’ve been using them for smaller items on our travels for years!

How To Pack Light For Carry-On Only

 Fill Your Boots

Space is everything when packing carry-on only, even the space in your footwear! Make sure to fill every last nook and cranny of your larger shoes or boots with clothes.

Likewise if you’re a hat wearer, filling the crown of your hats with clothes not only saves space, it’ll help your hats maintain their shape!

Read more: Carry-On Packing Guide for Airplane Travel

 Roll Your Clothes

Rather than folding them, rolling your clothes will optimize the space in your bag and help keep them wrinkle-free. Additionally, as with packing cubes, the rolling method will make things easy to find without having to unpack your entire bag!

Another item I recently added to my carry-on hacks is this travel pillow that you can stuff with rolled clothes. It’s been a game changer for trips where I need to pack a snorkel and fins which leaves way less room for clothes. I can pack 1-2 days of clothes into this pillow and I have an instant cushion on my long flights!

How To Pack Light For Carry-On Only

 Plan For Laundry

If you’re going to be away from home for more days than you have outfits, plan on doing a load of laundry at your destination. Check and see if your accommodation has washers or a pick up and delivery laundry service, or simply map the nearest laundromat!

 Pack Bar Shampoo & Conditioner

Have you ever wondered how someone could possibly pack all of their toiletries into a quart-sized bag? Introducing bar shampoo and conditioner.

Bar shampoo and conditioners are not considered liquids so they don’t count towards the allowable carry-on limits. This is one of my favorite hacks and I’ve even found a vegan and eco-friendly brand that my hair loves.

 Remove The ‘What If’s’

We’ve all played the ‘what if’ game when packing. “What if it rains the whole time?” “What if I end up needing five different pairs of shoes for five unidentified, yet, specific activities?”

While such concerns can be tended to with a larger checked bag when packing carry-on, it’s best to remove the what-ifs and focus on the items you know you’ll actually need.

Read more: 6 Must-Have Items For Your Carry-On Bag

How To Pack Light For Carry-On Only

 Buy At Your Destination

There’s no rule that says you have to take everything you’ll need with you! If you know you’ll be able to purchase items such as deodorant, toothpaste, or in the case of rain, a travel umbrella at your destination, then do so!

This is an especially good tip if your packing routine includes liquids. Given airline restrictions on the amount of liquids allowed in the cabin, it can definitely pay to bring only the bare necessities on the flight, and then pick up products such as shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and contact solution at your destination.

Plan Your Trip

After traveling consistently for over 15 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.

Accommodation: offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 10 years.

Let us book your trip! Looking for a Travel Advisor to help you plan your trip? Contact us here for more information!

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