Flying with only a Carry-On

Nov 21, 2018

You guys already know how much I love to travel! And, with more and more of my trips being work related and/or only lasting 1-2 days, I find myself packing just a carry on more often than not. Of course, I don’t do it all the time. (especially if I have to take tons of photography equipment with me), but each time I do, I learn a few more helpful tricks to make it even better for the next time. So, here are six of my fave tips for improving travel when you only have a carry-on!

  1. Minimize liquidsIf you’re traveling with only a carry-on, then you’ve got very limited room for liquids, obviously. When you think about your regular getting-ready routine, can you imagine fitting everything that you use into a quart-sized baggie? If you can’t, then start prioritizing what you want to bring. Maybe you can forego your liquid foundation for powder only. Soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars are also great space-savers for your liquids bag. And if you’re addicted to dry shampoo like I am, try packing baby powder to do the same job.
  2. Keep it light | Leave the heavy items at home. If you’re a reader, consider using only ebooks or audiobooks for this trip. (Pro tip: Check out the app, Libby by Overdrive, to borrow audiobooks and ebooks from your local library for free.) Opt for lightweight footwear as much as possible, and wear your heavier shoes while actually in the airport. Limit heavy clothing items like multiple pairs of jeans or bulky sweaters and sweatshirts. If you’re bringing a jacket, consider wearing it until you get on the plane so that you don’t have to use precious luggage space.
  3. Minimize unnecessary itemsAre you really going to need three pairs of stilettos, or your hair dryer, two curling irons, and and that dress you never wear but swear you’ll wear it on vacation? The saying goes that when you travel internationally, you should pack only half of what you think you’ll need. In all honesty, I think the same is true when you’re traveling domestically–and especially when you’re only packing a carry-on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lugged literally half my closet around because I thought I’d need it all. A little pre-planning will cut down on those unnecessary items drastically!
  4. Maximize outfit optionsPack clothing items that can be used for multiple outfits, and keep shoe changes to a minimum. If you can wear the same things a few different times, you’ll be able to save tons of space in your bag. I like to plan out my outfits ahead of time and take a quick photo of me wearing them so I can go back later and make sure (1) I have everything I need for each outfit and (2) I’m not bringing unnecessary items. 
  5. Maximize bag spaceIf you’re taking only a carry-on for a trip, you’ll want to spend a little extra time prepping the items that are going into your bag. Some people swear that rolling their clothes takes up the least amount of room, and others use Ziplock bags or packing organizers to save space. It doesn’t really matter what technique you use, as long as it works for you. Keep in mind that you’ll want easy access to your liquids and electronics when it comes time to go through the security line.
  6. Maximize comfortIf you actually managed to fit everything but your kitchen sink into your carry-on bag, you’ll want to make sure it’s actually kind of comfortable to lug around an airport. Many a time I’ve packed way too much stuff into a shoulder bag only to totally kill my back as I walk miles through security lines, extended layovers, and parking lots. If you have a small roller bag that meets your airline’s size requirements, consider opting for that instead of using a large backpack or shoulder bag – your back will definitely thank you later!
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