When it comes to packing, it seems like we’re all hardwired to reach for the biggest and the bulkiest of suitcase there is.
Why are we all like that? – I have no idea.
What I do know is that checking in your luggage at the airport is the worst and that you’ll have a potentially deal-breaking fight with your family on your next road trip when you fail to cram all those large bags into the trunk of your car.
The solution to this problem are these two life-saving words – carry-on luggage.
How do you expect me to put all thirty of my favorite outfits in a carry-on you might wonder.
Well, it isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible. You can achieve the impossible and fit all of your travel necessities in a regular old’ 22×14 bag if you follow some (or all) of these tips for packing carry-on luggage.
Get a new bag
Or borrow it, whatever.
Advice number one is to get a new bag or a suitcase that fits most airline standards when it comes to carry-on size. If you never or rarely use carry-ons, the chances are that the one you have doesn’t fit the size criteria. Although this might seem redundant, trust me – it’s not.
Think of it as a foundation for your packing – it won’t work if you build it on a rocky one.
Gather all your strength and don’t bring any toiletries
There are two major problems when it comes to packing toiletries in your carry-on. First of all – they take up too much space. Even the travel-sized products minimize the space you can use for clothes and shoes. The second problem is that almost all airlines have extremely strict regulations when it comes to bringing liquids on boards.
You could hypothetically buy 3.4 oz clear bottles and fill them with your favorite products and then pack them into a see-through PVC purse or bag and then have to rummage through your bag to show them to that one TSA agent that takes his job too seriously.
Or, you could bring a toothbrush and buy everything you need. It will only set you back a few bucks, but it’s worth it as it will save precious carry-on space.
Leave the cheap stuff behind
When you make a packing list, try adding a price tag to every item you’ve listed. It might seem strange, but it’s helpful when you need to decide what to bring and what to buy.
That way, you’ll only bring nicer, more expensive clothes – saves space and saves you from having to choose between the hundred five dollar t-shirts you own. You can always buy a tank top to sleep in or an extra pair of socks. An “I love Paris.” t-shirt isn’t cheesy if you had to buy it.
Roll, don’t fold
It seems that there are as many packing techniques as there are people on Earth, but for packing carry-on luggage I suggest the infamous rolling technique.
Rolled clothes take up less space and won’t come out of the bag all wrinkled up.
Fold them along the seams until you get them into a rectangle. Start rolling them from the bottom and make sure you get them as tight and as straight as possible.
Pro tip: instead of layering the rolls horizontally, pack them vertically. You’ll double the amount of clothes you can take and stop them from moving around the bag. Vertical rolls also provide you with more nooks and crannies you can use to stuff socks, underwear, and electronics into.
Remember – jeans don’t get dirty. Ever.
That denim pants don’t get dirty is a scientifically proven fact. It is also considered to be the golden rule of packing. So, one pair of jeans equals infinite wears, which equals unlimited luggage space.
That is an especially good tip for packing carry-on luggage. Jeans are heavy and bulky and take up a lot of space, and thus should only be worn and not packed. If you can’t get by with only one pair of jeans, pack light capris or linen pants that you can roll up tightly.
Shoes are overrated
Do your shoes ever show on any of your travel photos?
Of course, they don’t. That’s why you don’t need to bring five different pairs that coordinate with your outfits.
Unless you’re going to change three different climates during your trip, a pair of trendy sneakers and some flip-flops will get the job done.
Get a pair of designer sneakers that can work both with trousers and with sweatpants. If you’re a dresses-and-skirts type of girl, I have some good news for you, too – stockings and sneakers are all the rage in Europe now.
Do like a Parisienne and wear all black
One of the most overlooked aspects of packing carry-on luggage is color coordinating.
Flowery prints and vivid colors are never a good idea when you travel. That one fun and bubbly outfit you had in mind won’t pair with anything, and there’s a strong possibility people will think you’re colorblind.
Dark clothes, on the other hand, can be worn multiple times and you can pair them with almost everything. That means you can stretch out three tops and two bottoms to seven, maybe even eight outfits if you accessorize them right.
Outerwear stays out
The final and most important tip for packing carry-on luggage is – never, ever pack jackets. Or down jackets, or puffer jackets, or coats.
If you’re going somewhere cold, pack lightweight sweaters and cardigans you can layer, and bring your coat with you. You’ll never be able to fit anything in your carry-on if you pack a down jacket, so your best option is to wear it.