So, true story time. The first time I went to Italy ( right after high school, circa 2003), I checked my bag and landed in Rome with no bag…for 3 days. Since my tour group was heading straight towards Naples, I spent 3 days in Italy with nothing but a souvenir shirt I bought, a pair of shorts I wore on the plane, a t-shirt to sleep in courtesy of the airline and…yes…the same underwear. ( gross, I know).
Fortunately, when we returned to Rome, my bag and clean underwear were awaiting me. But, needless to say, I have learned the art and joy of mastering the carry-on bag and keeping my needed items with me.
Now, if I happen to fly Southwest, or get a direct flight somewhere with cheap baggage fees, I may check a bag and just take a larger purse on board, because I can. But, the reality is that you don’t want to be dragging a ton of luggage around Europe ( or wherever your final destination is).
If you travel-hack like I do, it can include taking multiple airlines and you certainly do not want to be leaving security just to re-check a bag…especially on international flights.
So, what’s the secret to travel light and pack for an entire vacation in one carry-on bag? It’s easy at 1-2-3.
1) Pick a good carry-on suitcase.
Not to overstate the obvious, but you need a good, solid carry-on bag in order to actually be able to pack it. For the longest time, my husband insisted on a duffel bag.
Now, no hate on the duffel bag, but it’s tough to keep things organized in them. Nothing stays folded and it all just jostles around.
I finally got him to upgrade to this Nurmi 20″ hardside carry-on spinner from Traveler’s Club.
It’s durable, affordable ( typically can be bought well below retail price if you catch a sale or have a coupon code from eBags or Kohl’s) and I appreciate the added security of the TSA locking mechanism.
Note*- The typical size for a carry-on is 22 inches high x 9 inches deep x 14 inches wide, including wheels and handles. However, check with your specific airlines to be sure.
2) Take Only What You Need
I’ll admit. I’ve been guilty of overpacking, for sure.
I have stared at my suitcase and thought ” I don’t know what mood I will be in when I arrive…so how can I ever possibly decide between the green cardigan or the blue one? I don’t want to get there and regret not packing them both.” So, then I pack both…and don’t wear/need either.
By streamlining your packing (and not being super vain when you travel) you can avoid dragging around extra weight and stuff that you don’t need.
Don’t be this guy…
Basically….look nice, be clean and be presentable… but don’t be a diva when it comes to traveling.
I know that sounds harsh. But, I am very low-maintenance when traveling. The only person that I know while traveling is my husband…and, let’s face it, he’s already seen me at my worst.
I typically let my hair air dry overseas and I may take a mini-hair straightener. I only take basic makeup that I can wear daily and take a small, compact travel toothbrush.
Plus to maximize your carry on space, there are a couple of tips, tricks, and tools to give you ample room.
- Use space-saver bags. Make sure you use ones that don’t require a vacuum, since you may not have access to one at your destination. I use the Travis Travel Storage bags. They take a little doing, but work great. Some folks prefer packing cubes.
- Put Jewelry and smaller items ( like a cell phone charging block) in shoes.
- I always wear my bulkier shoes on the plane and put extra slip-on shoes or flip-flops into the bag
- Don’t pack for more than 7 days at a time. If you are traveling for longer, you can find a laundromat or a laundry center in your hotel.
If there is an item you must-have, just check to see if the hotel already has the amenity or pop in at a local drugstore to find it.
It’s actually kind of a cool experience to ‘live as the locals live’ when you shop where they shop.
I loved shopping at Monoprix when visiting Paris. It’s like a European Target and a great spot for necessities and practical souvenirs.
Monoprix Rue du Bac flickr photo by ndiggity shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
3) Collect Memories, Not Stuff
But what about souvenirs?
When I went to Paris the first time in high school, I bought one of those tacky, touristy felt berets that had “Paris” embroidered on it. Do you want to know where the felt Beret souvenir is now?
I don’t know. Let me know when you find it.It’s probably floating around some Goodwill somewhere.
Seriously, avoid the touristy trinkets.
Find one thing you love that is meaningful to you.
It can be a small handmade piece of jewelry from a local craftsman, or, in our case, a small piece of artwork. Take photos and make a photo book when you get home. (I love chatbooks and shutterfly for this!)
I can guarantee any trinket you buy from a street vendor will end up broken or in a garage sale pile.[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘By focusing on minimizing stuff and maximizing experience, you will be able to travel more effectively, efficiently and freely.’ #luggagehacks #travelmore @FlipFlopWeekend” quote=”‘By focusing on minimizing stuff and maximizing experience, you will be able to travel more effectively, efficiently and freely.'” theme=”style3″]
My general rule of thumb is to make sure that you bring something home that tells a story.
By focusing on minimizing stuff and maximizing experience, you will be able to travel more effectively, efficiently and freely.
What are your top tips for packing your carry-on luggage? Let me know in the comments and please share this post if you found it helpful!
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