Tips for Packing a Carry-On (ONLY)

Tips for Packing a Carry-On (ONLY)

I travel fairly often. Mostly for work, but I certainly love to see the world whenever I am lucky enough to have the opportunity! This still feels fairly new to my life, as I didn’t even own my own luggage until I was 25 (I’m 33 now, so I guess it’s not that new … but you get it). I rarely check a bag. In fact, I’ve probably only checked a bag maybe five times in my life and I’ve had my luggage lost three times. To be fair, one of those times was 100% my fault (it’s a long story), but that’s still a weirdly high average, right? Since I’m a mostly carry-on only kind of gal, I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned over the years to maximize what you can fit in a carry-on size suitcase.

I’m also really happy to be working with Sofft Shoes for this post. Their shoes are ideal for travel and really any situation where you want stylish shoes that are super soft and comfortable. I have two styles—the Somers III and Nalda, and I’ve packed both of them with me this week as I’ve been in Palm Springs for work (and fun!).

First, plan your shoes. I tend to only pack a maximum of three pairs of shoes (wearing one on the plane, of course) and I often travel with just two pairs. Shoes can quickly take up a lot of suitcase space so choosing styles that will go with a variety of outfits you plan to pack is ideal. I also will usually wear the largest pair of shoes I plan to bring on the plane, unless it’s too uncomfortable for some reason. This just frees up more space in your suitcase. So, if you plan to pack a cute pair of boots, wear them on the plane unless it’s just not practical (like wearing heavy snow boots for an 8+ hour flight, I could probably skip that).

Once you’ve planned outfits around the shoes you plan to bring (taking into account the activities you plan to do or types of clothes you’ll need to wear for work, etc.), roll your clothing as much as possible. Not only does this save space, but in my experience it often helps to minimize wrinkles too.

And third, once you have your bag packed, make sure you can easily lift it above your head. This is a little embarrassing for me to admit, but one time I was traveling alone (for work) and I had really packed my carry-on suitcase super full. Once I got on the plane I was trying to quickly put my bag in the overhead bin and get in my seat so other passengers could get on. But I couldn’t lift the bag high enough to get in the bin. I was so embarrassed! Luckily, a kind fellow passenger saw me struggling and helped me out. But ever since then after I finish packing my bag I just give it a quick test lift to make sure I haven’t overstuffed it.

This isn’t carry-on bag related, but I also highly recommend TSA Precheck (This is U.S. only but there may be other versions of the same thing in other countries). It’s not very expensive and lasts five years! I did have to make time to do it, as you’ll have to make an appointment to get fingerprints done and a few other items. But since getting it last year I am now SO sorry I didn’t get it sooner! There has already been one flight situation this year where I certainly would have missed my flight if I hadn’t had TSA Precheck.

Any other carry-on bag packing tips or other travel hacks you’d like to share? I’d love to hear as I am always looking to make traveling an easier experience. I am thankful to have work and vacations that take me fun places, but flights and airports have always given me a little bit of anxiety, and I know a lot of others feel this too. So, always love to hear more travel tips that can make the experience just a little easier. ? xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop. In case you’re curious, my dress is from ASOS, purse is Rebecca Minkoff, sunnies are Gucci (birthday gift from my sis).