One thing you may not know about me: I’m a packing ninja. Would you believe me if I told you I hadn’t checked luggage on a flight in almost 10 years? From 3 days in Phoenix to 3 weeks in Japan, everything I need fits into a standard rolling carry on + personal item. And no, I generally don’t pack light. I like to be prepared! I’m going to spill all my juicy packing secrets for you… so you can save time, save money, and never worry about lost luggage. #thankmelater
The Rolling Carry On
The key to packing smart is not only to maximize the space inside your suitcase, but also to avoid any excess wrinkles & fold lines. Translation: less ironing at your destination. Fold jeans, pants, and woven dresses in half lengthwise (hotdog style) and lay across the bottom of the main compartment with the excess length hanging out.
Socks, bras, and underthings go into a flat zipper pocket. In the larger zipper pocket, add your shoes. Pack shoes in dustbags to avoid scuffs.
Tops and sweaters should be folded in half lengthwise, stacked, and then rolled. Roll tightly, smoothing things out as you go. Vertical fold lines are least noticeable (and easiest to iron out), so by folding lengthwise and rolling them you’re eliminating horizontal folds and minimizing wrinkles. I usually have room for 4 rolls in my suitcase, or 3 rolls plus an extra handbag.
Cosmetic bags, extra handbags, your curling iron… any extra items get squeezed in around the perimeter of your clothing rolls. Once everything is packed, flip up the pants and dresses & zip everything up.
Now the pants & dresses are resting in a “C” shape (again, minimizing fold lines & wrinkles).
Most bags have a zippered gusset that will create extra room in your bag. Don’t use it! The unused space is an insurance policy in case you purchase anything extra while traveling and need the extra room on your return flight.
The Personal Item
In addition to your main carry on luggage, you are also allowed one “personal item” on commercial flights. What counts as a personal item? For most women, your handbag. Here’s the trick: you’re thinking too small! As long as your personal item easily fits under the seat in front of you, you’re good to go. So reach for that oversized handbag. My weapon of choice is the oversized carryall from Cuyana. Your personal item needs to contain everything you need easy access to on the plane and when going through airport security, so pack it strategically.
Inside my personal item:
- wallet on a chain*
- liquids bag*
- a scarf or wrap
- water bottle
- a pen
- magazine or e-reader
- optional: change of clothes for redeye or international flights
Wallet On A Chain:
This is a travel essential for me! After I pass through security I wear mine crossbody while at the airport… it gives me easy access to cards, cash, my phone, and my boarding pass. At your destination you can take the chain off and use it as a wallet inside a larger bag or as a dinner clutch.
You only get one small ziplock bag of liquids to carry on the plane, so use it wisely!
- Buy travel sizes (hairspray, hand lotion, toothpaste).
- Move products into smaller jars (foundation, moisturizer, sunscreen).
- Bring cosmetic samples in lieu of your regular products (perfume, eye cream, primer).
- All non liquid cosmetics should go in a separate cosmetics bag inside your rolling carry on.
- Instead of face wash, pack cleansing wipes. Even though they’re wet they don’t count as a liquid and can go in your main carry on suitcase.
- If travelling with my husband I have him pack the shampoo & conditioner since he always has extra room in his liquids bag.
- Shaving: You’re allowed to carry on 1 disposable razor (with cover on). I keep it in my liquids bag just so everything is in one place when going through the security screening.
Pro Tip: Bring a pillowcase or dustbag to protect your personal item before you shove it under the seat on the airplane.
Okay, I’m sure that was a LOT of info, but that’s the complete guide to my packing secrets. Now you can start packing like a pro and getting in and out of the airport with ease!