8 Packing Tips for a Carry On

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Packing everything you need inside a carry on can help to reduce frustration when it comes to packing and traveling whether for business or pleasure. While it can be a challenge to strike a balance between bringing all the essentials and packing light, it really is possible to fit everything in a carry on.

woman in jeans pulling white carry on with title text overlay reading 8 Packing Tips for a Carry On

There is nothing quite like luggage issues to put a damper on a much-anticipated travel experience.

Not only can packing be difficult in the first place, but dragging luggage through airports can be incredibly frustrating.

Checked luggage can go missing, causing you to wear the same outfit for weeks while your airlines attempts to locate that luggage.

It’s clear that dragging checked luggage on your trip can be a real headache. This is where fitting everything in a carry on comes in.

Benefits of Using a Carry-On Only

  • No more lost luggage
  • Ease of travel and transportation
  • No additional luggage fees
  • Saves time waiting on the baggage carousel
  • Makes it easy to change your flight at the last second

Packing Tips for a Carry On

1. Choose the Best Carry On

Always double-check the current measurement limits for carry on luggage for the airline you’re traveling on.

Choose wheeled luggage. Luggage with 4 wheels is often the preferred option. Four wheels allows luggage to spin and turn more easily. This makes it easier to use in tight spaces like on the airplane and in a crowded airport.

Check for lighter weight carry on luggage. Many experts recommend luggage no heavier than 7 1/2 pounds.

Check the interior to make sure that the interior space is as large as possible, with no obstructions. Also, look for square interior corners, not rounded, to maximize the interior space.

Check the handle and retractable handle for ease of use.

Check the zippers and make sure they’re sturdy and easy to use.

Some highly recommended carry on suitcases are:

close up of Family standing with arms around each other in airport looking out window at plane

2. Don’t Overpack

A traditional carry-on bag may be a lot smaller than it has to be. Check the airline’s website to see the maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag. This may allow you to use a larger bag than you expected.

Once you confirm the bag dimensions, choose a functional carry-on bag that both fits the airlines allowance,your needs and your budget.

3. Plan for Your Personal Item Carry-On

In addition to the carry-on bag that you can stow in the overhead compartment during your flight, many airlines also allow a personal item such as a purse, tote bag or backpack.

Use this additional space to carry travel documents, electronics, beauty products and reading materials. Remember, this bag often must be stowed under the seat in front of you, so make sure it will fit comfortably under the seat. And don’t forget about leaving space for your feet.

passport on top of stack of maps on white table

4. Don’t Overpack

Research your destination and its climate. This allows you to better prepare what you need for your trip.

Overpacking usually occurs because of fear of being unprepared for the weather. Fortunately, it’s easy to check the weather for your destination and an connecting locations.

Also, research if laundry services will be available so that you can be confident only packing exactly what you need without taking “emergency” outfits.

5. Purchase Items at Your Destination

Most toiletries and personal care items take up a lot of space and some are prohibited to put in your carry-on. From toothpaste to sunscreen, many markets and pharmacies at your destination will carry items you require.

Make sure to do your research prior to departure to make sure these items are available at your destination and determine how you can purchase them.

6. Roll Clothing Items

Rolling clothing items into compact, tight bundles and stacking them on top of one another will maximize the space in your carry-on.

4 different sizes of clear packing cubes for luggage

7. Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes maximize space because they contain carefully packed items.

They’re also helpful in organizing your bag and trip because you can pack outfit items or like items together in one cube.

I recommend using clear packing cubes to make it easy to remove personal items and technology items for security screenings.

I recommend EZPacking clear packing cubes. They come in a wide range of sizes and variety of colors. These are the packing cubes my family uses. Use code ORGANIZED31 to receive 15% off your order.

8. Fill All Open Space

Fill all vacant space with smaller items like underwear and socks to make sure that all space use is maximized.

For example, place items, like socks, underwear, belts or even t-shirts, inside of shoes. You can also pack items inside of hats, shirt collars and any open space.

More Packing Tips

Fitting everything you need into a carry-on doesn’t have to complicated and can certainly help reduce travel hassles and frustration. Pin these packing tips for a carry on so you can always find them so you can enjoy your next travel adventure with less stress and less luggage.

For my top moving and travel tips, hacks and printables check out the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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