5 Clever Packing Tips for Carry-On Only Travelers

There are plenty of benefits to packing light and bringing only carry-on luggage when traveling. For one, you never have to worry about your bags getting lost. For another, you can also kiss paying excess baggage fees and waiting at the baggage carousel goodbye. All in all, being a “carry-on traveler” can make your experience more enjoyable, convenient, and hassle-free

However, if you’re not used to packing light, you might have some trouble making everything fit in a backpack or a compact roll-away bag. You may even end up forgetting some items or going over the airline’s weight limit for carry-ons.

To make packing light a lot easier, here are some tips you can follow:

Get a Good Bag

Your usual options for carry-on luggage are either a backpack or a compact rolling suitcase, and each one of these has its own pros and cons. A backpack is softer, making it much lighter and more flexible. If you have to, you can squeeze in two more shirts or perhaps an extra pair of sandals since it tends to expand without much resistance. On the other hand, a rolling suitcase is easier on your back and shoulders. It’s also sturdier, so you don’t have to worry about it getting bumped around a little, especially if you’re carrying fragile items with you. That said, compared to a backpack, a suitcase is heavier and may possibly take up a portion of your luggage weight limit.

You also need to factor in the correct size of your bag. The limitation per carrier may vary, although the average is around 22 x 14 x 9 inches. The weight limit may also be different, depending on the size of the aircraft. This may not be too much of an issue if you’re a frequent flier with one or two airlines. If you’re always looking for the cheapest flights, however, you may want to be on the safe side and get a bag that’s a little smaller than average.

Pack Versatile Clothing

For many people, packing light means packing as few clothes as possible. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be less stylish or comfortable during your travels. The key is to pick versatile clothing that you can take anywhere and combine to create different looks.

For example, denim leggings can be dressed up or down to match any occasion. They’re also both sturdy and comfortable enough to wear for a whole day of walking and exploring. Other staples include scarves, dresses, polo shirts, and T-shirts made from quick-dry materials. A denim jacket may also be handy for chilly or windy weather.

Ideally, you should pack clothes and underwear that can last you for about 7 to 8 days (including underwear). If you’re traveling for longer than that, it’s best to look for accommodations with their own laundry facility or are close to one. If you absolutely have to bring bulky clothing, wear them on the plane instead of putting it in your bag. You can also look for items that are warm but lightweight, so they’re easier to put on and take off.

Use Packing Cubes and Compression Bags

To help keep your things organized inside your carry-on, make full use of packing cubes and compression bags. With packing cubes, you can conveniently separate your shirts and pants, underwear, socks, and other items so they don’t get jumbled inside your suitcase. Meanwhile, compression bags help you flatten your clothes so they take up less space; as a result, you can fit more items in your luggage.

Use a Luggage Scale

To make sure that you’re always within the carry-on weight limit, you can invest in a high-quality luggage scale. This will help you avoid excess baggage charges, as well as the hassle of unpacking your things. Make sure to take into account the weight of your bag, as well as any souvenirs you may want to bring home. To be extra safe, always leave about 1 lb (0.45 kg) free as a buffer.

Do note that most airlines allow you to take a personal item, aside from your carry-on luggage. These usually range from small backpacks, handbags, satchels, or laptop bags that can fit under the seat. Most people use their personal items to store personal belongings and other items that need easy access, like medications. However, you can also use your personal item to stow things that might not fit into your carry-on. That being said, this doesn’t mean you should turn this baggage allowance into a pseudo carry-on.

Bring Solid Toiletries

One of the best ways to save on luggage space is to not bring toiletries at all. Hotels usually provide their guests with soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, as well as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and disposable razors. Feel free to use these, so you don’t have to pack bottles and tubes in your bag. If you’re staying in a place that doesn’t provide toiletries, buy small bottles of body wash and shampoo when you land.

Another option you have is to bring solid toiletries, like shampoo bars and deodorant sticks. This way, you don’t have to fiddle around with airline-approved bottles.

Traveling is an enjoyable experience, and it can be even more enjoyable if you aren’t stressing about your luggage. With these 5 tips, you can be an expert at packing your carry-on luggage in no time. Happy travels!

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