I’m the carry-on queen. I don’t say this to brag, but it’s just a fact. I’ve literally never checked a bag while flying. Ever. After hearing horror stories of friends who’ve had airlines lose their bags, I was sold on the carry-on life for good. I mean, airlines can’t even send some pets to the right destination. This overall anxiety led me to learning the ins and outs of the best travel packing hacks.
Yes, traveling like a minimalist saves money because you don’t have to worry about baggage fees. But it’s also saved me major time (no waiting at the baggage carousel!), and I realized it made it easier to get dressed once I arrived at my destination.
If you want to be about the carry-on crew life, below are a few packing hacks I swear by.
Because it’s totally possible to pack 10 days in a single bag and not sacrifice your style, beauty routine, or sanity.
1Roll clothes strategically
You’ve probably heard about rolling your clothes instead of folding, but the real trick is rolling them tightly. Kinda like a burrito. This limits the space items take up. Also, place the heavier items on the bottom, with lightweight pieces on top or filling any nooks and crannies in your bag.
2 Use dead space
Some items just take up a lot of space and can’t be rolled or folded. The biggest space hog of them all is shoes, especially sneakers. But one trick I like to use is filling the inside of the shoe with smaller items. For example: stuffing them with underwear, a bikini, or even a few sheet masks. And no, your items won’t smell like a foot, as long as you wrap them in a plastic bag to keep them clean and smelling fresh.
3 Pack with a color scheme in mind
One way to really maximize your number of outfits is by mixing and matching pieces. A pair of jeans can easily be worn with a few different tops or a dress can be worn as is and also with a shirt over it. However, when your clothes have a bit of a cohesive color scheme, this makes it even easier to mix and match.
4 Pack by activity
If you’re going on a 10-day trip, you need 10 outfits, right? Not necessarily. Instead of packing based on the number of days you’ll be away, make out a list of everything you plan to actually do. Will there be a few beach days? Nights on the town? Biz meeting? This dictates exactly how many, but also which types of looks you’ll need.
5 Make your products pull double duty
There’s literally nothing in my carry-on bag that can’t be used multiple ways. The scarf that I use on the airplane to keep the chill away is also a sarong for any beach days. My small compact of cream blush is also a lip stain. When items pull double duty, you don’t have to bring as much stuff.
6 Store creams and serums in contact lens cases
For beauty items you don’t need a ton of, like night or eye cream or serums, add a few dollops to a contact lens case. This can save a crazy amount of space in your bag and doesn’t require sacrificing your usual beauty routine.
7 Store jewelry in pill boxes
Smaller jewelry, like rings, stud earrings, and pins, can easily get lost. But a weekly pill box is an easy way to keep everything organized and safe.
8 Store necklaces in Press ‘n Seal
When I saw this travel hack for jewelry, I nearly lost it because it’s so genius. Dainty necklaces are a nightmare to untangle, but when you lay them out on Press’n Seal plastic wrap, it creates a seal around the jewelry so it’s tangle-free. This is perfect for necklaces of varying sizes, or any accessory you want to protect.
9 Stock up on beauty samples
Another beauty tip: You know those samples you get all the time? Keep them specifically for travel. These are perfect because you use them up, throw away any packaging, and your bag has one less item on the return flight home.
10 Review your bag after returning from your trip
This is something I started doing about a year ago, and it’s helped me become an even savvier packer. When you get home, take a look inside your bag and make note of all the items you didn’t wear or use. Three workout outfits, but you never actually hit the gym. A full makeup bag, but you never applied more than concealer or mascara on any given day. That lets you know those are the products you’ll realistically have no use for the next time around on a similar trip.
You’re now an unofficial member of the carry-on crew.