October 7th, 2013

How to Pack Your Carry-On Bag

by Jacqueline Whitmore
Photo courtesy of Corbis.

Photo courtesy of Corbis

Traveling can be expensive if you don’t plan ahead. Whether you want to save a few dollars on baggage fees or simply avoid the trouble of hauling a lot of luggage, you should consider packing only a carry-on bag for your next trip.

Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal belonging onto the plane. Check your airline for specific size requirements.

Be sure to keep your important documents close. Your boarding pass, passport and other documents should be easily accessible. If you’re extra organized, keep a copy of your passport in your carry-on bag and put your travel details on TripIt.com. You can keep track of your hotel, airfare and ground transportation information with this nifty travel app.

How to Pack

There are many techniques for packing a carry-on bag, but this method is recommended by those who travel most — flight attendants. I should know; I used to work for Northwest Airlines. If packed correctly, one carry-on bag will easily accommodate everything you need for a week-long trip.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill

Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill

First, organize your clothes. Lay out everything you need a few days in advance and review each item. Limit the amount of shoes you carry because they take up the most room.

Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Avoid packing for the worst-case scenario. My motto is: If you forget it, buy it. You can always purchase items you need in a pinch once you get to your destination and you’ll save yourself a backache.

Once you’ve narrowed down what you’d like to bring, lay your good items flat and fold them over once. Put dry cleaning bags in between your good items to keep them from getting wrinkled.

Roll all your other items and set them aside. Rolled clothes take up less room in your bag. Now you can begin packing your bag.

Put your shoes in your suitcase first. Place them so the soles face the sides of your bag. I like to put my shoes in cheap plastic bags first so they don’t get my clothes dirty. If you have any breakable items or jewelry, put them in your socks and place them in your shoes for extra protection. Your small pieces of jewelry will fit nicely in pill boxes.

Pack clothing with the heaviest materials, like jeans, next and layer your rolled clothing from heavy to light material. Wrap any belts around the edge of the bag. Place your toiletries in a plastic bag, just in case they accidentally leak, and place them on top of everything and zip it up. You’re ready to jet set!

If you’re traveling for business, always pack your good clothes, like your business suits, in dry cleaning bags. Place your business clothing in your suitcase first and allow the extra material to rest over the edge of the suitcase. Don’t fold the material. If you have several suits, simply lay them on top of each other and alternate which side of the suitcase you allow the extra material to hang over.

Pack your other clothing and toiletries. At the very end, take the extra material from your suits and bring it over on top of the other items. That will allow your business clothes to remain as wrinkle-free as possible.

What’s your favorite packing technique? Download TravelSmith’s free packing list by clicking here.

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3 Responses to “How to Pack Your Carry-On Bag”

  1. etiquetteexpert on October 7th, 2013 7:12 pm

    The countdown begins. Two more days ’til I leave for Asia! Here are some tips on how to pack a carry-on bag. #excited http://t.co/iD1jko59zi

  2. CANetiquette on October 7th, 2013 7:22 pm

    How to Pack Your Carry-On Bag http://t.co/Qs52ivKmpK

  3. Amanda on October 7th, 2013 8:11 pm

    This is a great article filled with helpful tips on how to efficiently pack a carry on bag. I will definitely be using this next time I am taking a flight!

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