Travel Tip Tuesday: How to Pack a Carry-on Suitcase

Last week’s Travel Tip Tuesday post listed five reasons why you should switch to carry-on only-and Facebook fans and commenters listed many more. After that post, I had a few FB comments and even an email or two asking me how I do it.

I’ve listed my general carry-on list before, but here are five tips to help you pack your carry on for an international trip.

1. Use Your Personal Item
With few (new) exceptions, you are allowed to board the plane with one personal item in addition to your carry on bag. Many women carry a purse, some people carry a laptop or briefcase, but whatever you use, make sure it is large enough to allow space for stashing extras like your camera, iPod, makeup or books.

2. … and Then One
Ok, so yes, I’m technically cheating here but how many times have you boarded the plane with your one carry on and personal item and seen people in front of you with a big shopping bag filled with their latest airport purchase? You know it happens … .

So, if I’m borderline on space, I pack my own shopping bag and use it to hold the items I’ll need in-flight, such as iPod, book, magazine, journal and my Ziploc bag of liquids. A bonus here is that I am always prepared when I board and don’t have to go through my zipped carry on to look for my essentials.

3. Use Extra Shoes
Sure, you can pack socks and underwear inside the space of your packed shoes, but you might also be able to squeeze in a hairbrush, PJs … undershirts. If it doesn’t need to be wrinkle-free, roll it up and stuff it inside. That’s just free space waiting to be used.

4. Always Cut
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? The easiest way to pack a carry on only suitcase for an international trip is to eliminate the amount of stuff you pack. Simple, non?

If you are having a hard time with this, then think back to the last two or three trips you took and remove any items you didn’t use. If you didn’t use it last time, you probably wouldn’t use it this time-and you will be thankful for the extra space for souvenirs.

5. Bundle Wrap
If you can’t seem to cut enough from your list, then consider bundle wrapping. There is an actual technique to it, so be sure to click that link and read up on it-and follow the diagrams-if you are interested.

I’ve used a similar technique of wrapping clothes around a main object and had great success, however, nine times out of ten, I’d rather eliminate the item than pack it.

I *never* pack a hairdryer-and with the unfortunate exception of my honeymoon-I’ve never missed it. What one item would you recommend people toss?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio.

Traveling south? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

Photo: Queen of Subtle.

4 Responses
  1. saretta

    The key tip is no. 4…bring less. You will always need fewer clothes than you think you do. I have become an expert at only packing clothes that can all be used together in different outfits and no matter how little I take it seems there is always some item that never gets worn!

    OMG, I do, too! I don’t know HOW that happens, but I always have a couple of things that never get used. Mah!

  2. These are great tips. I traveled this year with a carry-on only for 6 days, so maybe by the time I come visit you I’ll have another trip or two under my belt and won’t have to check a bag.
    However, it does make it a bunch easier when you are visiting someone you know and can use some of their stuff (straightener, shampoo, etc). I don’t usually particularly like hotel conditioners, so I’ll usually pack some of my own when I’ll be at a hotel for more than a day or two.

    It helps to have a sister (at home) who will loan you clothes, too. đŸ˜‰

  3. Oh, BRILLIANT. I’m with you on just cutting down on the amount of stuff you take on holiday, but my packing recently has been more to do with moving to a different country to live, so the brief is somewhat different. The bundle wrapping page looks like it could be an absolute lifeline in a couple of weeks when I pack for 9 months in Calabria.

    So excited to hear you are coming to Calabria! And yes, packing for a move is *very* different. I brought a LOT! đŸ™‚

  4. Judy Mancuso

    Beginning in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, we have now embarked on our 60 day trip which includes a month in Italy.(Now in Arizona) We each (husb.)& and; I have a carryon and I have a purse (little larger than I usually carry) and my husband has a pouch and we will let you know how it all worked. I did reserve places that have washers so hopefully that will help. I may be throwing away clothes by the time we hit the east coast of US before we head to CA and finally back to Hawaii. Coordinating is the key and minimalism, too. Plus we packed about 3 weeks before we were ready to leave which gave us time to eliminate!!!!

    BRAVI!! Can’t wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks.!

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