How to Pack Using Just a Carry-On Suitcase

Traveling with a lot of luggage is a hassle. It adds a considerable amount of time to your travels. You have to arrive at the airport even earlier and lug around a heavy suitcase during your trip.

Using just a carry-on suitcase makes it easier to get around. You can go straight to security without waiting in line to check in your bags. Then, when you land, you can walk out of the airport and enjoy your destination immediately.

Light packing isn’t easy. It’s tempting to bring items for every possible scenario.

Here are some of our top tips for packing with just a carry-on suitcase.

Plan Your Adventure

The first step for packing light is planning your trip. Many people overpack when they don’t know what they’ll be doing at their destination. People tend to prepare for every situation imaginable.

The more you plan ahead of time, the more intentional you can be while packing.

A few things to think about:

  • What activities will you be doing on your trip?
  • What is the climate at your destination?
  • Do you need any specialty items?
  • Are there items you can get at your destination in an emergency instead of packing them?
  • Are there clothes you can wear on multiple occasions?
  • Are there items (like toiletries) you can share with travel companions?

Buy Travel Size Toiletries

If you’re flying, there are limits to the liquids, gels, creams, pastes, and aerosols you can pack on your carry-on. For example, you can bring up to one quart-size bag containing liquids 3.4 oz or smaller.

To avoid any issues, purchase travel-size containers or products. Most grocery or department stores sell them.

The small size of these items will help you save space and weight in your suitcase.  To organize them, get a clear, reusable bag for storage.

Use Packing Cubes

The challenge of carry-ons is staying organized. Taking one item out of the bottom of your bag can ruin your entire organizational system.

Packing cubes are a great solution. Instead of dismantling everything to take out a shirt, you can take out one cube at a time. It makes it easier to find specific items in your bag.

It also makes it easier to limit the amount you’re packing.

When packing everything together, it’s easy to pack too much or forget to pack certain items.

Packing cubes make it easy to categorize items and see how much you have.

Roll and Fold Your Clothing

There is a debate about whether rolling or folding your clothes is better. Many claim that rolling your clothes can help you fit more into your bag.

In our experience, rolling doesn’t necessarily mean you can fit significantly more than folding your clothes. However, it does make things more organized and optimizes your carry-on space. In addition, it makes it easier to find something in your packing cubes because your clothes are alongside each other instead of stacked.

If you’re packing bulky items, like a sweater, folding might still work better. 

Combining both techniques makes it easier to maximize your space.

Limit the Number of Shoes You Bring

One of the worst offenders in your carry-on when it comes to adding weight and space is shoes. Carefully choosing your footwear makes it easier to avoid checking-in luggage.

Wear the bulkiest shoe on your flight or during your ride to save space.

Then, try to choose shoes that aren’t as bulky to pack.

Finally, pick shoes that work for multiple scenarios to avoid double packing.

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