There are many reasons to travel with a carry on only. Not only can it save you a lot of money on checked baggage, but it can save you a lot of time as well avoiding long checked baggage lines at the airport. You also avoid the risk of the airline losing your baggage with all of your belongings in it! Here are some of my best tips to traveling with just a carry on.
1. Choose the Right Carry-On Luggage
When I tell people that I travel with just a carry on, the usual response is, "OMG HOW?!"
It's very simple actually- I travel for weeks at a time with only a carry on, and I am able to get by just fine! Sometimes I can fit the same amount of items in a carry on as I would a checked bag. I think the reason that people find this so hard to believe is because they are traveling with the wrong carry on. Many carry on bags are super limiting in storage space because they are not expandable, use small dimensions, and have too many bulky pockets, zippers, and lining that take up too much space.
I recently discovered the Voyageur Carry-On by Level 8 - this carry on maximizes dimensions with 20"
of space designed with a wide handle to make more room on the inside to fit more items. I have found that this carry-on is great not only for fitting the most amount of items but my tote bag fits nicely on top and loops around the handle perfectly- with four wheels that glide on the airport flooring making it even easier to travel. I prefer this option instead of lugging around a difficult carry on around the airport that makes you wish you had checked it when you are running in the airport to make your connecting flight- been there done that a few times.
2. Roll Clothing Items
I have found that rolling clothing is the best way to maximize space... and stay organized too! I can clearly see what I have packed and it doesn't become a jumbled mess. I even started storing my clothes in drawers at home this way too! I found not only does it fit more items and maximize space, but it looks more clean and organized. It is easier this way too to not slack and throw things in... because it is much more obvious when everything else is neatly rolled!
3. Pack Mini Toiletries
Not only is mini better but its cuter!! Make sure to get the smallest possible size you can of our must-have toiletry items and cosmetics. I like to use the zipper pocket in my Level 8 bag to store my toiletries because it is water-proof in case anything leaks or explodes (this happens often when you hit altitude on a plane). Linking below some of my favorite travel size items!
mini makeup items
4. Wear Your Bulkiest Items
One thing about me is that I don't care if I look like an absolute clown at the airport- you can catch me wearing 3 coats, high heeled boots, 2 hats, scarves and accessories if it means I am going to save an extra couple hundred dollars on checked luggage. If I can make it happen- I will. Wear your bulkiest items to leave room for other things in your bag. ALWAYS wear jackets/coats (they make for great pillows/blankets on the plane as well) and your chunkiest shoes. Avoid packing jeans if you can, they take up the most space (and weight if you are checking a bag). If you must bring jeans, make sure you wear them to the airport instead of packing them to make more space!
5. Fit Larger Items Into Your Personal Item
Don't forget to utilize your personal item! As long as it fits under the seat in front of you- it counts. I find large tote bags are the most convenient for fitting the most items, and easier to get around with because you can set it on top of your carry on. Store large items such as hair tools, charger cords, electronics, makeup bags, etc. in your personal item to make more room for clothes in your carry on.
I like to keep my laptop in my personal item as well, but I did find this bag from Level 8 that has an outside case for laptop/charger cords as well.
6. Be Strategic About What You Pack
You need to have a solid strategy when you are packing for multiple weeks at a time with just a carry on. Throwing in a bunch of random things will not cut it for this task! Most hotels will offer complimentary laundry if you really need it. So here is my go to packing list when it comes to clothing/shoes:
- one pair of sandals, one pair of sneakers, one dressy shoe or heel
-two gym outfits, one with black leggings that can dupe as a regular outfit as well
-two pairs of socks
- don't skimp out on underwear- I just pack it all just in case.
- Short dresses instead of maxi dresses to save room
- One outfit for each day of the trip (or outfits you can mix and match)
- Dresses over two piece sets tends to save more room, and often you can re-wear.
7. If You're Really Desperate- Add Extra Clothes To A Pillow
Okay, so we've gone over how to maximize your carry on and your personal item. Still feel like you need more space? The pillow trick. Now this one is a genius scheme. A pillow, on most airlines, does NOT count as a personal or extra item. You are allowed to bring a pillow to be more comfortable on the flight. You can take out the insert of your neck pillow and fill it with socks/clothing, or even a regular pillow if you can disguise it well enough. Works great every time!
Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps!