When packing your suitcase, you usually know that you’re not going to use half the stuff you manage to cram into your luggage. Instead, it’s just going to take up space and be painful to lug around the airport.
Save yourself the strained muscles, bouncing on your suitcase while struggling with the zip, and skip the agonising wait at the luggage carousel by packing a carry-on suitcase. Here are our tips for packing like the pros, and making the most of the space inside your carry-on suitcase.
Learn to love lists
Before you get started, make sure you’ve done these 3 things:
- Research your destination. This will give you insight into weather, possible activities and places you might want to visit, and will allow you to plan your needs.
- Make a packing list. Itemise everything you need to bring. Include toiletries, electronics, documentation and accessories. Check items off, as you pack. Don’t add anything that’s not on the list.
- Get the right size luggage. Whether it’s a backpack or a wheelie suitcase, it’s your personal preference. The only limitation is that it must fit in the overhead luggage compartment of the plane.
Packing your carry-on clothes
- Lay out the number of outfits you’ll need for your trip. Subtract two. You still won’t wear everything you pack.
- Roll everything that’s getting packed to maximise real estate inside your case. Here’s how. You could also flat pack your clothes, if rolling seems like too much effort. Here’s how to get the most out of flat-packing your suitcase.
- Layer your items from heaviest to lightest. Pack your shoes first. Then longer, heavier items like pants and jackets. Then add your shirts and shorts, and lastly your light items, like undies. This order makes it easier to compress the contents of your suitcase, when you’re trying to close it.
- Stash your socks, stockings or tights inside your shoes. You’ll keep your shoes from getting squished, and save space.
- If you’re packing a manly suit, the best way to keep it wrinkle-free is to turn the suit jacket inside-out, fold it in half lengthwise and then fold it in half, top to bottom. Or roll it, if you prefer. For dress shirts, fold it like this and then fold your pants over the shirts. Both your shirts and pants should stay wrinkle-free!
- Only pack toiletries that wont be provided in your hotel room or that you can’t buy at your destination. Most hotels provide shampoo, soap and other toiletries, so you don’t have to take up space in your luggage.
- Pack the toiletries you do need into a waterproof/Ziploc bag. Should anything leak or spill, your clothes, shoes and electronics won’t suffer as a result.
- Buy sample-sized toiletries, if possible. Or travel-sized containers from the pharmacy or plastic store. Decant your lotions and potions and don’t forget to label them.
Packing your electronics
- Charge everything you’re taking, before you leave the house. Wrap your chargers and secure them with elastic bands and pack them into the nooks and crannies between your clothes and shoes. You could also wrap each charger around its matching device, for packing.
- Limit your electronics. Leave your laptop behind, if possible. Take the iPad instead. There’s no need for an iPod, eReader and your iPhone. You can do everything you need to on your iPad, or phone. Just make sure you have all the right apps and you’ve loaded them with music/videos/books/magazines.
- Wrapping your gadgets in socks/shirts/scarves is a good way to insulate them from bumps and knocks.
Pack everything else like a pro
- Don’t do it. You don’t need everything else. If you’re worried you might need it and you’re packing it just in case, don’t bother. You wont need it and it will just take up space in your luggage.
- Things that you will definitely need: identification, passports, travel tickets, itineraries and money. Make sure you put these where they’re easily accessible and safe.
- If you can’t resist shopping while you’re at your destination, pack a foldover fabric tote bag for some extra packing room for your return trip.
If it were up to us, there would be no such thing as carry-on luggage restrictions. Unfortunately rules are rules, so packing smartly and reading up on airline luggage restrictions before you travel should save you a lot of hassle!