How to pack your carry on for travel

When heading aboard, you’ll check at least one piece of luggage, but no matter how many Samsonsite suitcases you put into the hold, you’ll almost certainly bring a carry on bag onto the plane.

Every travel and fashion blog worth their salt covers how to look good abroad, but not enough of these online publications help you understand how to properly pack your carry on. By becoming more efficient at fitting essential possessions in this smaller piece of luggage, travel will become far less cumbersome.

Below, we’ll run down a few tips which will help you become a packing pro…

1) Pick the right bag for your needs

Before you stow a single item in your carry on, you need to select the one which will best meet your needs. First, ensure that any bag you purchase will fit the requirements your airlines impose on carry ons.

For example, American Airlines does not allow carry ons bigger than 22x14x9 (45 linear inches), as does United and Delta. To be on the safe side, ensure it is smaller than these specifications, as there’s always a chance a legal bag may not fit into the sizing device at check-in, or to allow for tightening of regulations in the future.

After accounting for size, buy a bag that is durable – in-flight turbulence is getting worse thanks to climate change, so it is important yours will hold up against jostling in the overhead compartment and protect its contents.

Finally, make allowances for accessories if your budget permits – from packing cubes which maximize space available to stuff bags which avoids the need to constantly empty and repack your carry on every time you want to go to the beach, they will make your day-to-day life on the road much simpler.

2) Assess your needs while in transit

Now that you’ve got your bag, you may be tempted to jam it full of stuff. Before you do this, however, it is important to think ahead about what would make sense to make in your carry on as you travel from place to place.

A sweater is at the top of our list, as many modes of transport opt to run their air conditioners at full blast. Leave all your warm clothes in your main bag, and you’ll spend several miserable hours wishing you could break into the cargo hold to retrieve it.

Also, people tend to smell a touch on the ripe side after a long journey aboard a plane, train, or bus. By stowing deodorant and perfumes/colognes in your bag, you’ll be able to freshen up enough to avoid grossing people out at the baggage carousel.

3) Make sure its contents are TSA compliant

When accounting for the last point we brought up, don’t pack a full size bottle of your favorite eau de toilette, lest you end up losing it at a TSA check point. Shortly after the 9/11 era began, liquids were restricted to microscopic sizes, with bottles containing no more than 3.4 ounces being allowed.

Any liquid items you think you’ll need in transit need to be in compliance with this regulation, and must be stored in a quart-sized baggie. Anything else should be placed in your check-in luggage, or purchased at your destination.

4) Pack big, bulky items first

When you begin the process of packing your carry on, slip bigger items such as tablets, e-readers, and laptops in first.

If you wait until later, you’ll end up chucking out stuff you packed before to make room  for these items, only to repack them again. By prioritizing larger items, you’ll avoid time-consuming double work.

5) Store quick access items near the top

You will never have a reason to access some items (especially if you are practising carry on only travel) while you are en route from one destination to another. When packing your carry on bag, stow these items toward the bottom, or the part of your pack toughest to reach.

Conversely, stuff you need quick and easy access to should be placed near the top, or in exterior pockets. Tablets, books, sweaters, and passports are examples of these items, so don’t bury them in the bowels of your bag.