5 Tips for Packing the Perfect Carry-On
Tips & Tricks
5 Tips for Packing the Perfect Carry-On

There’s no better way to travel than by limiting yourself to only a carry-on. You avoid the possibility of losing your baggage, have all of your items with you at all times, and get the added bonus of not lugging around a massive suitcase. Here are five tips for packing the perfect carry-on so you can focus on having fun instead of worrying about your luggage.

Use Packing Cubes

Rolled clothing in mesh packing cubes.
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Packing cubes are one of the most revolutionary (and inexpensive) packing hacks to grace the travel world. These compact and durable fabric cubes make it possible to fit all of your clothes easily into a carry-on. Packing cubes come in different sizes, from shoe bags to large cubes for sweaters.

Compression packing cubes are an even better option, and use extra zippers to help compress your clothing into slim and sleek packages. Make sure to roll your clothes instead of folding them to avoid wrinkles and save even more space. They also protect your clothing from getting dirty and can be repurposed as laundry bags.

Put Toiletries in Reusable Containers

Pair of of travel reusable cosmetic bottles.
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Putting your toiletries in reusable travel containers can save so much valuable space. Instead of buying pricy travel-sized toiletries, siphon some off from you lotion, toothpaste, and shampoo and conditioner from back home and slip them easily into your toiletry bag.

Another great rule of thumb when packing in a carry-on is simply trying to minimize your liquids overall and to pack solids if at all possible. Solid shampoo bars, body wash, and even toothpaste tablets are easy to find and perfect if you’re only allowed so many 3.4 oz containers. If you aren’t picky about your products, or if you’re interested in trying out a new beauty routine, you can easily run to the local store to grab simple items like shampoo or lotion. Oftentimes the same items that you have at home are also available wherever you’re traveling to.

Maximize Your Personal Item

Unrecognizable man with bag And suitcase walking in airport.
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Your personal item is your best friend when traveling carry-on only and can easily function as a second bag altogether. If you’re having trouble fitting everything into your carry-on, it might be a good idea to upgrade your personal item to a larger purse or backpack. As long as it fits in the seat in front of you, you’ll be good as golden.

If you’re going to overhaul your personal item, you might as well also take a look at your carry-on, too. Backpacks provide a soft and malleable outer shell for you to pack while lightweight suitcases protect your precious cargo and don’t add to your overall luggage weight at the check-in counter.

Pack Versatile Clothes

Open suitcase filled with clothes.
Credit: miniseries/ iStock

Versatile clothing is your best friend when you’re trying to minimize how much you pack. Try to choose clothes that are neutral in color that you can mix and match with multiple items. Bring clothes that are easily layered so that you can stay warm in cold climates without having to pack items like bulky sweaters.

That being said, packing enough clothes for one week is a good rule of thumb. Jeans and other clothing items can be re-worn more than once before washing and laundry facilities exist almost everywhere in the world should you run out of clean clothing.

Wear You Bulkiest Items

Woman in coat and scarf with phone in hand and suitcase in airport.
Credit: Vladimka production/ Shutterstock

Wearing your bulkiest items on travel days is another great hack for fitting everything comfortably into your carry-on. Bringing a coat along? Wear it until you get on the plane where you can easily store it in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. The same goes for bulky shoes or sweaters. Luckily, planes are usually cold, and it’s a good idea to bundle up a bit anyway.

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