8 Packing Tips to Fit Everything in One Carry-on

If you’re looking for packing tips to fit all your necessities into that one carry-on bag this holiday, you’re in the right place.

As a writer and travel lover, I’ve taken long trips to different parts of the country, spending a month at a time in a new place with nothing but a carry-on bag. Although we can no longer travel as frequently or freely as we used to, thanks to the pandemic, sometimes it is necessary to travel. If you have to travel, and you don’t want to spend money on a checked bag, here’s how to fit everything you need into one carry-on.

  1. Get Real. Are you really going to wear a new outfit every day of your trip, or do you know deep down that you’ll probably gravitate towards wearing the same comfortable pants? The tip for fitting everything in one carry on is not to bring everything with you. Someone had to say it!
  2. Luggage Tetris.Get strategic with your packing—use the inside of shoes or your glasses case as coveted storage space.
  3. Roll Up. This packing tip was a game-changer for me. I pack everything in roll formation. Just roll up your clothes lengthwise and lay them like cute little cannolis inside your carry on. You’ll have more space, fewer wrinkles, and you’ll be able to see what’s in your bag more easily, which makes getting dressed easier each day.
  4. Bag it. I carried two mini-bags in my carry-on for every trip—a small drawstring bag for all my toiletries and a makeup bag with three panels that could be laid out flat or folded up. These two bags carried all my non-clothing items. Make the size of your toiletry and makeup bags the deciding factor on what stays and what goes.
  5. Convenience is Key. There are some things you can leave behind and pick up at your destination for the sake of simplicity (and space). Easy to replace items, like toothpaste and shampoo, can be purchased at your new destination or borrowed from relatives instead of stuffed in your carry-on, taking space from non-replaceable items.
  6. Lose Weight.All airlines have weight restrictions on your luggage, and most are especially strict about carry-on bags. If you’re flying a budget airline, don’t try to get away with going a pound over the weight restriction, or you’ll end up paying for a checked bag over that one pound difference. Weigh your luggage as you pack to ensure you keep it within the airline’s limits. If your bag is too heavy, put the heaviest small items in your purse instead of your carry-on.
  7. Use It, Dont Lose It. Make the most effective use of your carry-on space by utilizing any compartments it has. You might be tempted to ignore the side pockets and pack everything in the middle, but you’ll be missing out on extra space that’s available behind those dividers. Be careful what you pack in the front pockets – you may need to take them out to get your bag to fit in the “bag size check slot.”
  8. Take Advantage of a Store in the Airport. This is an important trick to learn. We know that shopping at an airport is expensive, but if you need to take out items from the front of your carry-on suitcase in order to fit it in the bag sizer, we recommend you buy a magazine. Why? Because they will give it to you in a plastic bag with their label! Put your suitcase items in that plastic store bag, and board with your purse, carry-on, and your new bag! When you buy something from the airport, they can’t really stop you from taking it with you on the plane (unless it’s duty-free).

Packing can be stressful, especially if you’re trying to fit everything in a small carry-on, but with these eight packing tips, you’ll be traveling with ease this holiday season.

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