How to travel with just hand luggage

The air travel chaos of summer 2022 has led to mass cancellations, crushing queues and mounds of lost luggage at airports around the world. Although departure times and crowds are beyond a passenger’s control, many travelers have taken action on the lost baggage front – vowing never to check a bag again.

“I only check a bag if absolutely necessary,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The vacationer, told HuffPost. “I avoid checking baggage because it is often more expensive and the risk of it getting lost or delayed is too high. This strategy saves me money and reduces my stress in flight.

If you’re traveling on a ticket that allows one carry-on bag and one personal item, this is the easiest way to get your belongings to your destination.

“I personally prefer to travel with just carry-on luggage to save time and avoid lugging around a huge suitcase,” said Casey Brogan, consumer travel expert at Tripadvisor. “When I arrive at a vacation destination, the last thing I want to do is wait at the airport.”

Packing everything in a carry-on may seem easier said than done for some people. Yet there are practical ways to make it happen. Below, you’ll find 15 carry-on packing tips from Dengler, Brogan and other travel experts.

Wear your biggest shoes during the flight

Be strategic about your airplane attire. What you choose to wear can free up valuable space in a carry-on, especially when it comes to shoes.

“You should always fly wearing your shoes that take up the most space,” Dengler said. “Some shoes, boots, and other shoes can take up a ton of space in the suitcase, and most can’t be folded.”

He also advised limiting the shoes you pack to what you absolutely need for the trip.

Stick to one color palette

“The smartest thing you can do to minimize the risk of overpacking is to make sure you’ll carry everything you bring,” said Gabby Beckford, a self-proclaimed “carry-on queen” and founder of the travel site. well named. Light packs. “I always try to pack with a color scheme in mind. With pieces from the same color palette, you can mix and match as much as you want.

When selecting clothes for travel, try to visualize how each piece might work with several other pieces of clothing to create a variety of cohesive outfits. You can mix things up with well-placed accessories that take up less room in a suitcase.

“I recommend packing clothes with neutral colors that can make for a variety of different outfits,” Dengler said. “It allows you to pack less and not carry the exact same thing every day.”

Roll your clothes

“Rolling your clothes is the best way to maximize space in your carry-on,” Dengler said. “Also, your clothes will likely wrinkle less than if you had folded them.”

He also suggested wrapping rubber bands around your rolled-up clothes to help keep things more organized and secure in the suitcase.

Choose accommodations with washer and dryer access

Before you even get to the packing stage before a trip, you can make sure you’ll only need one carry-on bag with your choice of accommodation.

“Staying at a hotel or Airbnb with a washer and dryer allows you to pack a lot lighter than you otherwise would,” Dengler said. “While a lot of people don’t want to do laundry on vacation, it allows you to go on a potentially long trip with just one piece of carry-on.”

TripSavvy Laura Ratliff, senior editorial director, swears by stain-removing wipes to freshen up the clothes she puts back on while traveling. She also recommends doing laundry or dropping off clothes when traveling.

“In many places, especially internationally, laundry services are incredibly cheap, so for long trips, plan a day where you can drop off dirty laundry and enjoy clean, ironed clothes before dinner,” she explained.

Make wise choices with the items you pack and how you place them in the suitcase.

Carol Yepes via Getty Images

Make wise choices with the items you pack and how you place them in the suitcase.

Enjoy your personal item

In addition to luggage that goes in the overhead compartment, major airlines generally allow passengers to travel with a “personal item” that must fit under the seat in front of them. This presents another opportunity to utilize the extra space.

“I use a standard backpack as a personal item, and it’s essential so I don’t have to check in a bag,” Dengler said. “I often use it to store extra pairs of shoes as well as snacks and toiletries. It allows me to focus on clothes for my carry-on.

Paul Jacobs, Managing Director and Vice President of Kayaking North Americaalso recommended to take advantage of your personal items franchise.

“I use a laptop bag that has a substantial middle section,” he noted. “A light sweater or jacket and my toiletries can usually fit in there and save space in my carry-on. My wife also puts her purse in a backpack to limit it to a personal item .

Use packing cubes

“For travelers looking to join #TeamCarryOnOnly, I recommend the standard packing cubes“People recommend them all the time because they actually work.” Beckford said.

Packing cubes bring a sense of order and organization to a suitcase, which helps prevent over-packing because there’s less temptation to mindlessly throw away items you don’t actually need.

Try vacuum bags

“If you want to go further [than packing cubes]there is vacuum packaging bags you can use,” Beckford explained. “Put your fluffiest items in there and use the hand pump to get all the air out. It compresses your clothes so you can fit twice as much. Just make sure you’re prepared to do the same on the way back.

Many people who live in small homes use vacuum-sealed bags to store winter clothes or other bulky items during the shoulder season. So it makes sense that the same technology could help travelers maximize limited carry-on space.

Make sure your luggage meets cabin standards

It’s a terrible feeling to go through the process of packing what you think is carry-on luggage only to find out at the airport that you need to check it in.

“The sizes of carry-on baggage and personal items allowed vary by airline, so check to see if your bags fit when booking your ticket,” Dengler said. “In many cases, it is more expensive to add additional carry-on and checked baggage after booking, so you need to determine this during the booking process.”

Choose lightweight fabrics

Instead of packing your thick sweaters and fluffy socks, think about how many extra clothes you could put on if you chose clothes made with thinner fabrics. You will also be better prepared for temperature fluctuations at your destination.

“Avoid packing heavy or thick materials and instead opt for items that you can layer,” Brogan said. “Also, pack outfits that allow you to mix and match so you can wear items again.”

Replace full size items with smaller versions

“Instead of a heavy laptop, I travel with a mini tablet,” said Marek Bron, a travel blogger at independent traveler. “Although it’s small, it’s perfect for entertaining or reading e-books.”

With the Transportation Security Administration’s limits on cabin liquids, many travelers are also opting for smaller versions of their bath products and other personal items.

“For toiletries, I fill travel containers of about 100ml, or I use products like solid shampoo, which can still pass security,” Bron noted.

Separate the essentials from the nice-to-haves

“The key to travel carry-on is to pack light,” Bron pointed out. “I only pack the essentials and not the good-to-haves.”

Before you start putting things in your suitcase, take the time to carefully examine each item. Ask yourself, “Am I going to use it enough to justify taking it with me this far?” Downsizing can require tough choices.

“Pack less than you think you need,” Brogan advised. “Lay it out, then put it back 30% to 40%.”

Store small items in shoes

When placing items in your suitcase, be on the lookout for empty containers, which can mean wasted space. Then place small items inside.

Jacobs recommended doing this with your shoes on (assuming it’s not too smelly of course).

“Electric razors, watches, pairs of socks – anything can fit in the shoes you packed,” he said.

wear your coat

Like shoes, outerwear has the potential to make the difference between carry-on and checked baggage.

“Even small jackets take up a lot of space,” Dengler said. “Wear your coat or jacket on the plane even if it doesn’t make sense in terms of temperature. In some cases there will be enough space for the top bin, but I recommend waiting until everyone has a chance to put their hand luggage in a bin first.

If there is no space available in the overhead compartment, simply remove your jacket and put it behind you for the duration of the flight.

Plan to purchase toiletries at your destination

“For toiletries, consider buying things like shampoo and conditioner, lotions and toothpaste once you get to your destination to save space in your suitcase,” Brogan said.

It may not be the most economical option, but if the bag space situation gets really desperate, you may want to remove your toiletries and plan to buy new ones in a pharmacy after your arrival.

Choose luggage that is itself light

In addition to size limits, hand luggage is also subject to weight limits. Even if you think your bag is unlikely to be weighed, no one likes carrying an ultra-heavy suitcase to and around the airport and back.

“I make sure my luggage itself is light,” Bron said. “A lightweight backpack or suitcase can easily weigh 1-5 pounds less than a typical piece of luggage, giving you more weight to use for clothing or other items. Considering how much you can save on check-in fees, some lightweight luggage is a good investment.

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