Packing light for 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 Light For Carry-On Only
Choose The Right Bag
Packing for 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 of 2018
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.
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!
Fill Your Boots
Space is everything when packing for 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!
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!
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 light for 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
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.