With the ever-increasing costs of checking a bag, packing lightly, with just a carry on and a personal item is the most favored baggage set up for most travelers.
Limited space means you must be smart about the way you pack. For many people, a few days is their limit before they think they need to check a bag. Creative packing, finding the proper carry on options, and understanding how many clothes to pack for two weeks or more, lets you skip the hassle of baggage claim (and lost baggage) as well as the added cost of checking a bag.
How to Pack a Carry On for 5 Days
Strategically packing your bag, like rolling your socks and underwear and putting them inside your shoes, means you can get by in less space. You aren’t penalized for having a heavy carry on, but if you keep it light, it is easier to lift into the overhead bin. A shorter trip doesn’t mean throwing in that extra pair of shoes “just in case.”
Remember, the carry on holds the items you won’t need until you have landed. Your personal item holds the items you may need on the plane.
How to Pack for a Week in a Carry On
Two extra days don’t seem like a lot, but if you’re putting two more outfits into your carry on, it can get maxed out quickly. To avoid this, make sure you know how to avoid overpacking.
Minimize the number of clothes you bring by combining outfits. For example, two pairs of pants and three shirts will get you six different outfits. Unless there are special occasions to pack for, those six outfits should get you through almost an entire week.
Rolling your clothes correctly helps avoid wrinkles and maximize space. Roll things up tightly, and then pack them tightly into your carry on. To make the most of the space and keep everything tightly rolled, use packing cubes.
How to Pack a Carry On for 10 Days
As you get into the double-digit days of travel, it is tempting to just spend the extra money and check a bag. But why waste time at the baggage claim, hoping your luggage wasn’t lost somewhere or damaged in transit?
Save space, stress, and checked-bag fees. Roll your mix-and-match clothes to make multiple outfits, and then try these space-saving packing tips for bulkier items:
- Wear the right shoes in-flight: Sandals are convenient to wear through airport security, because they’re easy to take on and off, but that is not a good packing strategy. Loafers, sneakers, and other bulky shoes take up a lot more space. Wear the bigger, bulkier shoes and pack the sandals.
- Wear bulkier items on board: Don’t waste valuable packing space with bulky clothing either. Wear the sweater or sweatshirt and carry the coat or stuff it in your personal item. It will be convenient to use as a blanket if the temperature on the airplane is very cold.
- Be clever about your luggage allowance: Use your personal item as supplemental packing space. Small bags and purses don’t give you much room, so go bigger. Use a large backpack, tote, or underseat luggage instead to increase what you can carry onto the plane.
How to Pack a Carry On for Two Weeks or More
Before you bite the bullet and check a bag, know the pros and cons of a carry on suitcase versus a checked bag.
Using all of the previous tips will maximize the space you have, but can you really get through two-week trips with only carry on bags? Yes, if you plan ahead and are willing to make concessions.
Three pro tips for living out of a suitcase for two weeks or more:
- Acquire toiletries when you arrive - Free up room in your bag by purchasing some or all of your toiletries at your destination. Some hotels will provide basics free, including shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, razors, etc. Plus, buying travel sized toiletries should be much cheaper than checking a bag.
- Find a laundry service - Determine how many clothes to pack for 2 weeks, remembering the mix-and-match tip above, then, if you still have too much to fit, scale back some. If you need to wash clothes while you’re traveling, look for a laundromat or dry cleaner with expedited service. Many hotels will handle laundry as well.
- Pack dryer sheets or deodorizers - If you can’t wash your clothes, at least make them smell clean. Throw in a dryer sheet or deodorizer with your worn clothes.
From a few days to a few weeks, you can fit everything you need in a carry on. It all comes down to packing efficiently.