Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Pack a Carry-On for Long Trips

I plan on packing all of this:

into this brand new carry-on:


It sounds crazy, I know. Usually, for trips longer than a week, I bring a regular suitcase. And you'd think that for international travel, a regular suitcase would be a no-brainer decision. But, we pack to the beat of our own drum and decided that checking luggage just doesn't work out for us this trip.

So, I'm taking my amazing packing skills and packing 9 days worth of clothing into a carry-on that says it can handle 3 to 5 days. Here are my tips:

Plan Your Outfits
This seems like a no-brainer, right? But I can't emphasize enough how important it is. I start thinking about what I'm wearing on vacation about a week in advance. (My husband makes fun of me for this.) I think about what we're doing on each day of our vacation and what clothing items would be appropriate for those activities. While I'll bring a different shirt for each day, I try to pick shirts that will go with as few pairs of pants or shorts (and shoes!) as possible.

For instance, on this vacation, I'm wearing a pair of bootcut jeans to the airport and packing a pair of skinny jeans, white skinny jeans, and gray shorts. Each bottom will be worn two to three days each on the trip. (The same goes for my bras, ladies.) If you're bringing a pair of pants that can only be worn once on your trip, I'd say rethink that outfit choice. That one pair of pants is going to take up space in your suitcase, and think of how many other things you could pack in its place!

Roll Your Clothes
all clothes rolled on 1 side of my carry-on;
the other side is still free for everything else!

I've been rolling my clothes in suitcases for forever! It really does give you extra space to work with. I don't know if rolling keeps your clothes from wrinkling or makes them wrinkly. I tend to not care too much about wrinkles. But if you do care and your clothes do end up wrinkly, just use the iron and ironing board in your hotel room! Or hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a nice steamy shower. Problem solved.

Socks in Shoes
This one is so easy! In my case, I'm bringing two pairs of shoes on our trip. I'll be wearing one pair on the plane with the other pair in my carry-on. To save some space, I'm going to put my socks inside my packed pair of shoes. This not only saves space, but also helps keep your shoes from getting flattened in your suitcase. Oldest trick in the book!

Take Advantage of Your "Personal Item"
When traveling, you're allowed a carry-on and one "personal item". (The personal item is supposed to go under your seat, so please don't be THAT GUY who puts his carry-on and personal item in the overhead compartments. You, my friend, are annoying.) While most women probably just bring a purse as their personal item, I always bring a bookbag with my purse inside the bookbag. Why a bookbag? Because it has more room for packing more stuff!

My bookbag is where I pack things to read/do on the plane as well as stuff that I need to keep easy access to: medicine, purse/wallet, camera, quart bag of 3-ounce containers. I also like using my bookbag as the place to pack my toiletries because my toiletries bag is kind of bulky for the carry-on. In some cases, I also use my bookbag as the place for comb and hairbrushes and/or my flat-iron.

Think About What You Really Need
I never pack a hairdryer. Even the travel-sized ones are bulky, and they never work as well as regular hairdryers. So why take up space in my suitcase for something that hotels already provide? Same goes with shampoo and conditioner. I do make an exception for soap. I have sensitive skin and have been instructed by a dermatologist to only use Dove soap, so I always bring my own soap.

But What About Souvenirs?
Think really hard about souvenirs, especially ones you are buying for other people. While you might have room for a few T-shirts or small tchotchkes, let's steer clear of stuffed animals or anything that can't easily be rolled up, stuffed into an extra pocket, or stored in your bookbag. And when in doubt, ask yourself if this is something you'll really wear, use, display, etc. Sometimes pictures and memories are the best souvenirs.


Do you have any packing tips you'd like to share? Post them below in the comments!

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