Travel: How-To Pack Lightly in a Carry-On

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This week in the journal I’m tackling a tough subject: how to pack lightly and fit everything for a trip into a carry-on. Let me preface this post by saying that any trip longer than about a week (unless you’ll have access to laundry machines) may require more clothes than what will fit in a carry-on. However, you can always play around with toiletries, shoes, and other “non-essential” things you had originally planned on packing to make everything fit. 


Today I will go over organizational techniques, what is “essential” and what is not, and a product that has helped me stuff my suitcases and duffels to the brim for the past few years. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a business trip, or visiting family for the holidays, these tips will help you fly worry-free and avoid extra costs. 


Tip #1: Packing cubes

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These are the first thing I want to mention because they are LIFESAVERS. They’re a flexible soft fabric and mesh material and come in various sizes depending on the set you get. These cubes zip to close and are designed to help organize your luggage based on category, outfit, or whatever else you’d like. Here is a link to the ones I’ve used and trust:


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NTH8K9K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_3a7oDbMYXNYCX


How I typically organize my packing cubes:

  • Intimates
  • Toiletries
  • Tops
  • Bottoms

Note: for shorter trips that only require a carry-on, I don’t always use all 6 packing cubes.


Tip #2: Center outfits around a basic item and re-wear them

My go-to's are a white tee or tank, a comfy pair of jeans (or shorts), and sneakers or flats that will match almost every outfit. For example, if you wear your white tee in two outfits, the same shorts for three outfits, and only bring one jacket (let’s say leather, for example's sake), then you’ve already eliminated 4-5 items from your packing list! 


Tip #3: Wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane 


This may already be a habit of yours, but I wanted to mention it anyway. It’s easy to forget when you’re traveling somewhere hot or have somewhere to be when you land. Just remember that you can always change after you land, and leaving a bit of extra room in your suitcase is smart if you’re going somewhere new and want to bring back a momento. 


Tip #4: Bring a tote bag or large backpack as your “purse” 




Most airlines allow a carry-on and a personal item. If that’s usually your favorite crossbody bag, a pillow, or a work bag, consider swapping it for a larger bag (like a tote) and using a packing cube to bring your accessories or something else you’d normally put in your carry-on instead. This creates more space in your actual suitcase!


Tip #5: Cutting down your packing list 


There are a few areas that are easier to do this for, and some that are not. When I can’t fit everything I want in my carry-on, I reduce my toiletries, shoes, accessories, and other things that won’t impact my trip if I don’t have everything I’m used to. 


“Non-essential” items:

  • Extra makeup 
  • More than 2 pairs of shoes
  • Things that will only be worn once (unless you have an event/special occasion)
  • Hair tools 
  • Bulky items that can be replaced with a smaller option 
  • More than 1-2 workout outfits -- you can wash them in the tub or sink and hang dry! 

Tip #6: Try on each outfit you plan on wearing 


It’s so easy to feel rushed when packing, but when we just throw a bunch of stuff in a suitcase the outcome isn’t always what was expected. Take some of the guessing and frustration out of packing and try on each outfit as you lay them out, so you can see if you like them and adjust as needed. You’ll avoid packing things you won’t wear, and maybe even find some other corners to cut so you don’t have to lug too much stuff around the airport. 


I hope you found these tips helpful, and please let me know about your next trip in the comment section below! I love hearing what you babes are up to. 


In collaboration with Dani Gomez; @dgwithlove on Instagram. 



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