For those who are new to travel, it’s tempting to pack your carry on like you’re prepping for an apocalypse.
However, you really don’t need that much, even if you’re taking an extended trip around the world (trust me).
With the trend of ultralight packing gaining traction, below are some simple packing tips from a pro travel blogger (me!) to keep extra baggage fees at bay:
1. Plan Around Your Shoes
Ok, so all my fellow shoe fanatics may disagree with me on this one.
Not all items you pack in your carry on are created equally (especially if you own a pair of LV’s). But, unfortunately, shoes should be considered the least important item you pack in your carry on.
Hear me out before you freak out.
While it is absolutely important to pack a pair of shoes that won’t cause blisters and are comfortable for walking (or running to catch a flight), that’s just the thing: bring one pair.
My exceptions are if I am going on a business trip, or if I am going to the beach. I will pack one pair of comfortable walking shoes and either one pair of heels or one pair of sandals. Place shoes in the *bottom* of your carry on (or suitcase) and pack other items around them.
2. Embrace the Basic Life
The one time that I encourage you to be basic is when deciding what clothes and accessories to pack for a trip.
While you may think you are already a smart and strategic packer, there are still areas where you can improve! This means selecting items that you only truly need. This will help you narrow down your inventory and lighten up your load.
Packing for the Gram’
A lot of people ask me how I pack all the clothes and accessories I wear in my Instagram photos into my luggage without incurring extra fees.
Well, here’s the secret: I don’t!
I usually pack the same three or four dresses, and then change the color of them in photoshop later on. This tactic keeps my luggage light and also takes away the stress of “matching the scenery.”
This is what I typically pack in my carry on for a 2 week vacation:
- four cotton dresses (these are usually lightweight and can be rolled up easily without wrinkles)
- one pair of comfy jeans
- five tops (a few “dressier” tops and a couple comfy tees)
- a neutral-colored cardigan (white, cream, beige, tan, etc.)
- three pairs of black leggings (for lounging or working out)
- two sets of matching pajamas (lightweight cotton, easy to roll up)
- six pairs of socks (a mixture of no-show socks and thicker socks if it’s a colder climate)
- clean underwear for each day (I don’t skimp on the clean undies! Roll them up tightly with a hairband and place in a travel bag to save space).
- a travel-size umbrella
- travel sized toiletries such as face wash, makeup remover, makeup, etc. (also place these in a zip-up travel bag!)
This may not seem like much for a two week trip, but it’s more than enough. However, if you still want to try to fit more, the key is to roll your clothes as tightly as possible and stack them. Bring a travel-size bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser to help with any creases. It’s totally ok to re-wear clothes as long as they aren’t stained or smelly!
If you want to push the envelope and pack even less (go you!) check with your Airbnb host, hotel, or resort regarding laundry options. Many accomodations have on-site laundry rooms, offer personal laundry service, or know of a laundry mat nearby.
Tip: Making the most of travel-sized products will also minimize space in your carry on. It’s not ideal to buy new accessories or amenities just for travel, so take advantage of what you already have at your disposal (I mean, hello free hotel amenities!)
To make sure the items you are packing are TSA-approved, check out this list for more information.
2. Use Your “Personal Item” Wisely
Most airlines allow passengers to bring one carry on and one personal item on the plane with them. Take advantage of this rule via a handbag that can be placed under the seat in front of you!
These airlines include Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United, but check out this full list of domestic and international airlines to be sure.
Even if you’re a traveler who carries a full-size checked luggage, also. bring a personal item on the plane with you. Here’s why: You can pack more valuable items that you might not feel comfortable placing in a carry-on or checked bag.
These items include essential medicines or medical equipment, breakable souvenirs, valuable electronics (um, a DSLR camera, duh!), or sentimental jewellery.
Here’s a list of what I always bring my hand bag or “personal item”:
- Canon DSLR with two lenses
- Apple MacBook Pro laptop with charger (to work and also because duh it’s expensive)
- iPhone charger with adapter (if an international flight)
- Portable charger (in case the outlets don’t work in-flight)
- Asthma medicines (inhaler, liquid albuterol capsules)
- Sudafed pills (a take one 30 minutes before take off, and another four hours after that to help with sinus pressure. But, this might not be for everyone!)
- Two clean pairs of underwear
- Toothbrush travel size toothpaste
- Sheet face masks (I love these ones from Peach Slices by Peach & Lily!)
- Snacks!!! My favorite snacks are Clif Bars, Oreo’s, Rold Gold Honey Wheat pretzels, and Planters Nut & Chocolate Trail Mix!
Since I bring more in my hand luggage than the average person, I use a larger, more heavy duty bag from eBags Online. I push the envelop a bit, but still make sure it is compliant with the airline measurements guidelines.
You can shop the full list of underseaters, duffle bags, and travel backpacks on their online shop.
3. Cheat (But Only a Little Bit)
If you still find it difficult to pack light, there are ways to still bring what you need.
You can invest in vacuum packs or ultralight packing cubes to store more clothes without leaving wasted space between shirts, pants, and other accessories.
The packing cubes that I use to store my toiletries and undergarments are from Gustave and you can find them at your local Walmart or online! (not sponsored, btw).
I also reserve one packing cube for dirty clothes so that I can separate them from touching clean ones (and so that luggage won’t smell unpleasant!).
If you find that your luggage becomes too heavy on your trip, consider removing, selling, or donating items that you don’t need or use anymore. These can be toiletries, books, or accessories.
If you’re a big reader like me, investing in a lightweight e-reader can also minimise space and weight. I use a Kindle Nook (yes, I’m old school).
4. Be Disciplined
So here’s the moral of the story: even if you think you need to bring everything with you for your travels, you can get away with a lot less.
Packing things we love gives us a sense of home and security (it does for me, too). But, packing less can also provide a sense of freedom and independence.
Here’s the scenario: you’re traveling to a far away land for the first time, only bringing the essentials. You arrive at the airport, passport in hand and print your boarding pass. No need to go to the check-in counter — no checked bags today!
You breeze through security, keeping all of your items organised in your packing cubes.
You find your departure gate and are summoned to board shortly after.
Your carry on is light enough to put in the overhead compartment without any help. Your personal item fits securely under the seat in front of you. Within minutes, it’s wheels up, and you’re well on your way to new adventures (with lots of snacks of course).
Ok, so maybe the scenario mentioned above isn’t always ideal. But, if you exercise some discipline and follow the tips mentioned in this article, your journey (and luggage) will be much easier to manage.