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  • Lauren Taylor

How to pack your life into a carry on.

A single carry on doesn't sound like much at all, but you'd be amazed how much you can fit into a single bag, if you know what you are doing; It's all a matter of practice.


The first thing you want to do is know the climate of your destination. Is it wet? Is it dry? Is it hot? Is it cold? Knowing the weather and climate really helps you know what to pack, so make sure you check the forecast! The weather is very unpredictable and the scorching hot summer holiday you were expecting might be going through wet spells that week, and you may even have torrential rain. Just make your best guess as to which clothing you’ll need. Unexpected weather happens and its normal, and it doesn't mean its going to ruin your holiday, as long as you are prepared. Give yourself a logical idea of what you need to pack, and you will be fine.

Planning outfits is key! It sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people just pack their favourite garments and don't think about what goes together. I'd recommend laying out the clothes you think you want to take and decide what works with what. Quick Tip - Pick items that are monochrome (black, white, grey) as they will mostly go with each other no matter what.

Check your airlines bag guidelines. There is nothing worse than getting to the airport and being told that your bag is too big to be allowed onto the plane. Checking airline guidelines in advance helps you pick out a bag that is suitable for your airline. Another tip - Choose light weight bags.

Try the 'Bag in a Bag' method! This is also called the Russian Doll method. If your not too worried about space, but think that you may want to purchase a lot of items while you are abroad, you can try the bag in a bag method. This is where you put a smaller suitcase (which you pack) inside a bigger suitcase that is empty, this allows you to take two suitcases out with you, while only paying for one. You can then fill the spare suitcase with items you have bought abroad and then check that one in on your return flight for an additional cost. 

Pack Lightly! Packing light sounds really difficult, but its not as hard as it sounds. Don't take items you probably wont need or use, for example, don't take hair curlers or straighteners if you're only planning on using them once. Eliminate any outfits you aren't so keen on or think you wont need, if you have room at the end you can always put them back in later. Don't forget that you can wear the same thing twice, and you don’t need a different outfit for every single day, that's just not practical.  Also, choose light weight fabrics.

Shoes! This links to above. I recommend wearing your bulkiest shoes. Wearing any boots or chunky trainers keeps your bag under the weight limit and also frees up a lot of space in your bag that they would otherwise hog. Fill any shoes you do put in your carry on with socks and pants/underwear to take advantage of the space in the shoes, this also helps to keep the shoes shape.

Pick out any heavy and bulky items as these will take up too much space. If you're only taking a carry on, you don't have enough room to put that bulky cardigan or onesie in. If its so bulky it takes up too much room, try and replace it with something smaller, or you can wear bulky items such as trainers or a cardigan whilst you're travelling.

Roll up, Roll up! Rolling clothes is such a good travel hack as it prevents creasing, and uses so much less space than folding clothes the standard way, meaning that you can take more with you in your carry on. Any items you don't want to roll should be folded together with items of a similar shape and size. The best thing about this is... MORE CLOTHES!

Invest in some elastic bands, XL zip-lock bags and packing cubes! This tip not only saves space by compressing clothes, but also keeps you organised. Tie elastic bands around the clothes you have rolled up and sort them into categories, i.e. t-shirts, jumpers, underwear, shorts, skirts, trousers, etc. Then put as many tops into a zip-lock bag, and put it into a packing cube and repeat until all your tops are in the packing cube, then do the same with all the bottoms. Do this with all your categories to minimize the amount of space taken up.

Makeup! If you plan on taking makeup, invest in a makeup bag that has two sections, this way you can put all your brushes and tools in one and your actual products in another, this helps you keep organised. Only take the bare minimum, so don't take additional mascaras and eye shadow pallets that you probably wont use.

Lay out all the toiletries you want to take with you. Double check you have everything you will want to take but don't worry if you think you have forgotten something, you will most likely be able to buy it in the duty free. Separate liquids and everything else, and then put all the liquids on one zip-lock bag and all the other items in another, this way if anything leaks other items wont be damaged. Then put both bags into a compression cube.

Put the any loose items (ie. underwear) at the bottom. This way, if you need to open up your suitcase for any reason, you’re not flashing your underwear to the half the airport. This doesn't really effect the space or anything, more your dignity. As well as this, Put heavy items at the bottom. This makes the bag easier to carry and also stops them crushing any lighter items that they would otherwise be on top of.

Use as much space as possible. Every space you can see is valuable space no matter what, fill them with small items and use this space wisely, you can also tuck items into shoes and any handbags you wish to take.

Take advantage of your additional bag. Most airlines will allow you to take an additional personal bag as well as your carry on. So don’t waste that space on just a small purse! Use this space as a a place for any electronics, your purse, tickets, passport and a jumper, if I'm going somewhere hot, I like to take a pair of flip flops to put on at the other end.  You can also put a book and anything else you need, i.e extra clothes in this space. The best bag to use for this is a medium sized rucksack or large handbag, as you can squish a lot in and get to it easily.

Be Sneaky! This one isn't really allowed, but there's no harm done in doing it. On the journey wear an oversize top or jumper, or something long that can cover up a bum bag/fanny pack with. You can put your passport, tickets, phone and purse in here while freeing up room for clothes and anything you couldn't fit into your carry on in your additional bag. Just be careful while going though security as they may pick you out on the fact that you have an additional bag.

In conclusion, there are lots of little tricks and tips you can use to get the most out of your carry on. Now you know them, you can use them next time you go abroad!

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