Pack like a pro with these 5 tips for traveling with only a carry-on in tow.


If you’re one of the countless travelers that sits on their suitcase in attempt to close it, this article is for you. There is a better way to pack your suitcase that lets you enjoy the convenience of carry-on only travel. 


Like most things in life, it starts in the mind. Before you start packing, start thinking about the joy of simplifying. How good does it feel to edit your closet? Though it may be a strain at the start, the joy of creating space to organize and simplify is powerful. 


Now that we’ve got you in the right mindset, let’s get packing!


1. Avoid the SCHLEP, carve out time to EDIT

Ever start packing for your return from vacation only to see that outfits, shoes and toiletries went unused? This is avoidable if with the proper preparation. 

Plan on starting the packing process early so you can give yourself time to edit. Packing last minute leads to the “better safe than sorry” mentality, which causes unnecessary items to be schlepped around needlessly. 


Here’s how to avoid the schlep: 

  • Start planning your packing at least one week prior to your scheduled travels. 
  • Take out everything you want to bring with you without regard for space. 
  • Now build outfits and take photos on your phone. 
  • Now sync outfits with your itinerary. 
  • Prioritize outfits that overlap, especially shoes! 
  • Start to edit. 
  • Avoid packing the “in case of emergency” outfit. In the event of an emergency, you can buy something unique from your destination or repeat! (Yes, this is an option!)
2.Roll It AND Fold It!


Think of packing like a game of Tetris. The roll method in conjunction with folding allows you to utilize dead space along the sides and corners of your suitcase. This valuable real estate typically goes unused because folding doesn’t align with long vertical and horizontal space. Roll shirts, dresses, pants and other items that aren’t bulky and line them along the sides, framing the folded items in the center of the suitcase. Stack on top until full. 

Some avid travelers choose to only fold their clothing because they think it just maximizes space. This is a great option for the summer months, but sweaters, jeans and bulkier items pack better folded. That’s why the blend is your best choice. 


Since you’ve already gone through the edit process, try to pack according to outfit so that you’re not sifting through your suitcase once you’ve arrived at your destination. 


3.The Toiletries Dilemma


Toiletries are essential but can add weight to your carry-on and take up valuable space. One way to lighten your load is using the complimentary toiletries provided by your hotel.


Hotels are now providing products from marquee beauty brands. Find out which brand your hotel has partnered with. Chances are the complimentary toiletries that hotels provide come from some of the most recognizable brands that are known for their prestige and quality. 


For items not provided by the hotel, shop travel size or use travel containers that can hold you through your vacation. 


4. Limit Footwear 


It’s no surprise that footwear can take up a considerable amount of space in your suitcase. To keep it to carry-on only, you’re going to have to make some tough choices. Wear your bulkiest shoe to the airport. To pack, you have 10 points. See chart below and go!


Knee Boots 9

Wedges/Espadrilles   8

Platform Heals 7

Ankle Boots 6

Spike Heels 5

Sneakers 4

Clogs/Mules 3

Ballet Flats 2

Flat Sandals/Flip Flops 1


5. Say No Souvenirs?


No way would anyone suggest not enjoying souvenir shopping. Every city, state and country have charming finds that you won’t be able to get back home. For purchases large and small, ask retailers if they have shipping options. If you plan to buy clothing items, be sure to leave some extra space in your carry-on. Opt for items that are easy to pack or roll. Jewelry is carry-on only traveler’s dream. As a last resort, you could also bring a collapsible duffle bag on your travels so you’re carry-on only one way. 


Going Carry-on Only? Download our Carry-on Only Packing List to help guide you on your next trip! 

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