Anyone who has done a significant amount of traveling has probably had their bags lost once or twice. In fact, this last summer in Europe, thousands of people were without their bags for many months as bags didn’t make flights or their bags were erroneously placed on flights to other places in the world.
With all the recent mishaps in airline luggage, it may make more sense than ever to travel only with a carry-on. However, this may feel impossible for some. If this is you, read these ten tips below and see if you can get some ideas for traveling with carry-on only.
1. Lose the Shoes. One of the biggest culprits that takes a lot of room in one’s bag is shoes. Depending on the type of trip you’re taking, you may only need one pair (possibly the pair that you wear as you board the plane). However, in most cases, it is pretty safe to say that you will need three pairs: A pair of sneakers, a pair of dress shoes, and flip-flops. I say flip-flops because they are incredibly lightweight and take up almost no space in your bag. Especially if you are going on a resort or beach vacation, you will use these all the time. Even if not, they can be a great thing to bring just in case your other shoes get wet and you need something to wear while they dry.
2. The many layers. Instead of bringing big bulky sweaters, think in terms of things that layer. Two or three long-sleeved thin shirts can take the same amount of size as one big bulky sweater. If you layer these garments, you can wear one on the outside one day, and then flip it on the next day, giving you two looks rather than the one look you get when bringing one large bulky item.
3. Shrink your liquids: Most pharmacies have a travel section that contains smaller-sized items of toiletries that you may need, such as hairspray, deodorant, or various lotions. Or, they offer small travel containers where you can place these items, such as your favorite hair gel. Also, traveling can be a great time to use up any perfume or cologne samples you may have been given in the past, instead of bringing large perfume bottles.
4. It’s personal: In addition to your carry-on bag, most airlines allow for a personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you, such as a backpack. Make use of this! Rather than allowing this item to be a purse or small briefcase, I definitely suggest a backpack that can be used to augment your carry-on bag.
5. Remember the clothes on your back. Whatever clothes you are bringing that take up the most space, try to wear those on the plane, such as if you’re bringing a jacket. You can wear the jacket as you board, and then just place it in available space in the overhead. Especially if you have items that you can smoosh, these can always be fit into little crannies and nooks in overhead storage.
6. Keep it Neutral. Pack clothes of a similar color palette that can be worn together in different arrangements. If your goal is to pack several days worth of clothing into a carry-on bag, then you need to plan on wearing items more than once, which is very possible, especially if it’s evening wear that you’re only wearing for a couple of hours at a time. If you pack items that can all be mixed and matched, then each garment will give you multiple options.
7. Stick to a Tablet: Reconsider if you are going to need that laptop or not, as it takes up a lot of space. In fact, reconsider anything that you normally bring but that takes up a lot of space. That being said, I always believe that people should come prepared with things to entertain themselves in case there are flight delays. However instead of bringing multiple books, load your devices with e-books, movies, or podcasts. You could easily load all of this onto a tablet.
8. When in doubt, throw it out. Have you ever fit everything into a bag on your way to a destination, but then when you packed to go home things didn’t fit anymore? While I can’t really explain why this is, a workaround is to pack things such as old underwear or other clothes that you are ready to phase out of your wardrobe anyway. After wearing them, you can simply leave them at your destination. Things like shirts, pants, and shoes can even be donated in the area that you’re visiting. This has the double advantage of helping you clear out your closet at the same time.
9. Roll it up. There are many people who swear by rolling up their clothes rather than folding them. This definitely helps get T-shirts and other items into small areas of a carry-on bag that otherwise go empty. Also, when rolled up properly, the clothes do not wrinkle.
10. Be sneaky. Most airlines will allow you to bring a pillow with you on board, and the pillow case can be a great place to pack a few T-shirts or other items, alongside the pillow. I resort to this only when in a pinch, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Of course, there are many trips where you will have no choice but to check a bag. However, there are vacations where you may decide that ease-of-travel is going to win out over fashion. Besides, it doesn’t matter how fashionable all your clothing is if it’s stuck in a bag at Charles de Gaulle Airport, and you’re in Rome.