5 Practical Tips for Packing Light and Traveling with Carry-On Only

Traveling is fun, but not so much the whole packing and unpacking process. We have heard plenty of complaints from travelers that they find it hard to pack light for their trips. Our advice is to start practicing the art of packing light with your summer trips! While you can find many great articles elsewhere teaching you how to pack light, we will focus on the tips that let you pack everything you need into a carry-on sized luggage. To get a jump start, we have interviewed a few traveling light experts in our community.  Here are the top hacks we have learnt:   

1. The life-changing magic of the compression bags

If you haven’t tried one of those packing cubes or compression bags (no vaccum or pump required), you have missed out big time! Although they don’t necessarily reduce any weight, they help more efficiently utilize the limited space inside your suitcase. The saved space might just be enough to allow you to trade down to a carry-on, which means no extra charge for that checked-in bag and no waiting at the luggage carousel after your arrival. If you don’t know which of the two you should get, check out this helpful comparison of packings cubes vs. compression bags

2. When in doubt, follow the rule of three

Plan your outfits smartly so you only need to pack 3 of each kind.  Three tops, three bottoms (e.g. 1 skirt, 1 pair of pants, and 1 pair of shorts), three dress, three pairs of underwear, the list goes on.  Choose the versatile pieces that are easy to mix and match so you can create multiple outfits out of them. Plan to do laundry along the way so pack the ones made with easy-care fabrics if possible.

3. Less is more when you bring travel-size items

Don’t bring full-size items on your trips. You are not going to need a bottle of full-size shampoo or perfume unless you are a family of 8 and going on a month-long trip (and in that case, you should just buy the full-size bottles at your destination).  The less you bring, the more you save (space, money, time, etc.).  Get travel-sized containers and fill them with your toiletries or simply buy travel-sized products at your local stores. Make sure you follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for any liquids in the carry-on luggage (3 ounces containers, in 1 quart-size clear bag, and 1 bag per traveler). 

4. Play the elimination game

We always tend to over-pack. A lot of unexpected situations could happen on a trip, but that’s no excuse to fill our suitcases with all the what-if items. Lay out the items you have packed on your bed before stuffing them into your suitcase. Play the elimination game to take out the least essential items one by one until everything remaining fit comfortably in your carry-on.   

5. You have an extra walking carry-on free of charge!

If you still have a hard time fitting everything in your carry-on after following tips #1-4, here is the ultimate cheat – take out the heaviest and bulkiest wearables and wear them on yourself.  Turn yourself into a free carry-on by wearing the hiking boots, the lined jacket for chilly nights, or the pair of Beats headphones … it’s usually cold on airplanes so you would want some warm covers anyway!

Please let us know if you use any of the tips above and find them helpful.  If you have your own tips to offer on traveling light – please share with us in the comments below.  We would love to hear from you!

(Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

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