Packing Tips For The Carry-On Traveler

Packing Tips For The Carry-On Traveler

How You Can Pack A Carry-On Like An Expert
Anne McAlpin
Luggage with items organized around it

Here are some carry-on tips that will make for easier packing and travel:


  • Check your airline’s carry on size and weight restrictions in advance. For most domestic airlines, the maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 22" x 14" x 9" including handles and wheels. International airlines may require even smaller bags. 
  • Some airlines charge a fee for a carry-on bag, depending on the type of fare you purchase. Know before you book.
  • Liquids Rule: You are allowed to bring one quart-sized, clear, plastic bag of liquids through the security checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces or less per item. 
  • Tip: The secret to packing liquids so they won’t leak is filling plastic bottles only ¾ of the way full, squeezing out the air & and then screwing on the lid tightly. 
  • Always keep medications and valuables in your personal bag in case your carry-on bag has to be checked at the last minute.
  • Put ID tags on all your bags, and include your mobile phone number and email address.
  • Downsize your electronics. Fewer electronics means fewer adapters and plugs. 

Start with a checklist and use these tips to take less.

  • Plan your travel wardrobe around two basic colors, so the same shoes and accessories can be worn with everything.
  • Take a maximum of three pairs of shoes:  wear one, pack two (also toss in flip-flops; they don’t take up much room). 
  • Layer your clothes for warmth instead of packing bulky coats and sweaters. 
  • Pack multipurpose items to save space: A large cotton scarf can be used as a swimsuit cover-up or to cover bare shoulders when entering places of worship. A microfiber travel towel works great as a quick-drying beach towel or as a blanket on the plane.
  •  Nine tops and three bottoms works for almost every trip.
    packing clothing into a piece of luggage on the bed

Space is limited in a carry-on bag, so organization is key.  

  • Pack your heaviest items (like shoes) near the wheels. This helps distribute the weight and makes your bag easier to handle. 
  • Place personal items like underwear inside plastic bags. If security needs to check your bag, you’ll both be happier. 
  • To roll or fold? Roll knit items like t-shirts, shorts and sundresses, fold anything cotton. Use plastic cleaner bags between cotton layers to help minimize wrinkles.
  • Organize your bag with packing cubes. Use a variety of cubes in different colors and sizes to make packing and unpacking a breeze, these are available at all our travel stores.
  • If you are taking bulky items like sweaters or puffy jackets, either wear them on the plane or pack them inside compression bags. These reusable bags save up to 30 percent more space in your bag and are great for packing dirty laundry (they seal in odor).

Perhaps the best tip for taking the stress out of carry on travel? Take a packable duffel bag (especially if you like to shop). Keep it packed and use it on the way home to pack souvenirs, laundry, and other odds and ends.

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