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7 Tips for Traveling with Just a Carry-on Bag

astra490 / iStock / thinkstock.comAll travelers hate waiting around the baggage claim, and it seems like the airline fees for checking a bag just keep going up. The best way to avoid all of that hassle is to travel with just a carry-on, which is easier than you might think, regardless of where you might be traveling! Some travelers gladly take on the challenge, while others might cringe at the thought of trying to compress a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries into one small bag, but here are seven tried and true methods that will shorten your time at the airport and save you some money along the way!

Check Your Carry-on Bag’s Dimensions and Weight
It would be terrible to go to the trouble to carefully pack your bag, only to find out that it is too big for the airline to accept as a carry-on. Most airlines will let it slide if it’s close, but if the plane is really crowded, they may measure it. While regulations can change at any time, most airline carry-on dimensions are around 22”x14”x9, with a 25-40 pound weight limit. Check your airline for specifics before you travel.

Choose a Good Bag
Invest in a good bag that will meet the carry-on requirements and meet your needs, whether that you are looking for something that is durable with theft protection features, a wheeled carry-on or a backpack carry-on, has multiple pockets, zips open on top or on the front, etc. You may also want to consider the weight of the empty bag before you put any of your gear in it, since there are weight limits to carry-ons.

Don’t Over Pack!
This is probably the biggest reason that people need large suitcases. Plan out your trip, and pack only what you need. Can you layer and re-use different shirts/pants for different outfits? Can you wash some of your clothes there if you absolutely have to wear different outfits? Do you need multiple pairs of shoes or can you make it with one or two?

Don’t forget that most airlines allow a carry-on and a personal item, so you can pack your laptop and toiletries separately, instead of taking up space in your carry-on bag.

Compress or Roll What You Do Pack
This can go one of two ways—you can roll your items and stuff them in for more space, or get a compression bag. With a compression bag, you lay all your clothing in it, then press all the air out and zip it, much like a Ziploc bag. You can then lay the bags flat in your carry-on or roll them up. This is an especially great technique if you are packing bulkier, cold-weather clothes like sweaters.

Layer What You Wear to the Airport
If you’re taking a coat or a jacket, wear it to the airport, or at least carry it through the airport—it will save you lots of space in your bag. If you’re going to a cold destination, wear a tank top or t-shirt with a long-sleeved shirt. Also, wear your bulkiest shoes if possible, although I have found that you can tie your sneakers to your carry-on and get away with not packing or wearing them.

Minimize Electronics/Books
I usually stuff cables and cords in my carry-on, and then take my computer and cell phone in my personal bag. Any books or notebooks must fit in that personal bag, or they are left at home.

Minimize toiletries
I only take enough toiletries that will fit in the quart Ziploc bag. This is easier because liquids have to fit in there anyway, and it minimizes what I can take. You can always pick up anything extra you might need or anything you forgot at your destination; so only take the necessities.

Now that you know how to travel with just a carry-on, I challenge you to pack minimally for your next vacation!

by Abbie Mood


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