In Low-Cost Airlines’ age that charge extra fees for literally anything (ugh), traveling with a carry-on only becomes more popular. But there are certain restrictions to hand luggage and what’s allowed to be in it. Today I want to share some of my hacks I developed after being a flight attendant for 5 years already and literally packing my life in a suitcase.
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First of all, what are the rules for a carry on?
It’s getting tricky here already. While the liquid rules are the same internationally, the allowed size of your carry-on suitcase can differ from airline to airline. Keep that in mind when you’re just up to buy a new cabin-sized suitcase since it might not be allowed on every airline if you’re going for the maximum cabin luggage size. You can check the allowed measurements on the airline’s websites in just a few seconds, and I’d strongly recommend you to do so.
Usually, you’re allowed to bring a cabin-sized suitcase and a personal bag. However, TSA requires you to pack your liquids in a separate bag, they can’t exceed 100ml per Item, and your total can’t be over 1l. So basically, you can bring 10 small liquid products that are under 100ml.
When it comes to packing your carry on, you can basically break it down into two principles:
- Make the most out of the limited space
- Make it TSA friendly
With that being said, let’s dive into the art of packing your carry-on essentials.
#1 Make the most out of the limited space
We all know cabin size trolleys can be a challenge when it comes to packing for more than 3 days. It already seems half full when you’ve just put it in your shoes. Trust me; I know the struggle.
So here are my tips for fitting all you need into your carry on only:
Plan it well and lay it out
To avoid bringing unnecessary stuff, I like to plan my outfits and check how I can combine different items to save space. I lay out everything I need to bring on my bed so I can get a better overview. Like this, it’s easier to see if you’ve taken out too much stuff, and you can cancel it out. Still got some space left?…great! Pack that shirt you brought just in case but will never wear on the whole trip. It just gives you that feeling of preparation and safety, right?
Never put your luggage on your bed
Why? BED BUGS! It’s the same with carpets…If your hotel has carpets, try using one of the luggage racks or unpack it and stow it away. You really don’t want to bring some bed bugs home from your trip.
Cut down on large items
This is an obvious one but way too important to leave it out. Of course, you should try to pack items that won’t take much space, duh. But here’s another tip from my side:
What are the Items that always take way too much space? Shoes and Handbags. While it’s hard to size down on shoes, you can definitely make your travel bag game a lot smarter:
→ Use the biggest bag you want to bring as your personal bag. The big tote will not only give you much more space in your suitcase, but it’ll also hold your food, drinks, pillows, documents… you need on the airplane ride. I personally tend to pack another small cross-body bag with my wallet and passport in it. Why? I feel safer like this PLUS I can bring another bag I don’t need to put in my suitcase.
→ Invest in travel-friendly bags. Do you know what the most used and loved bag is amongst flight attendants? The Longchamp foldable ones. They are just next-level travel-friendly. They look great, have great material, are fairly priced, and – most important – they fold up! I don’t know any of my colleagues that don’t own one of these. If you’re a regular traveler, consider getting one of these. I travel with mine for 4 years, and it still looks brand new. 100% recommend!
Organize in cubes
This is the part I am most excited about while packing up my things: organizing them in packing cubes. The cubes allow you to organize everything according to your needs so you’ll quickly find everything. Your clothes won’t slip around inside your suitcase, so they’re still nice and neat when you unpack everything.
Another hack you might have already come across: roll your clothes.
This won’t only make much more space, but it also helps them not get that wrinkled.
#2 Make it TSA friendly
Packing TSA-friendly means having everything easily accessible for checks and cutting down liquids. We’ve all experienced people taking hours in the line because they had to repack their whole suitcase after taking their laptops. You don’t want to be one of them. You gotta prepare!
Switch as many of your liquid products for more solid versions
If you don’t have many beauty products and only worry about your toothpaste and deodorant being liquid, good for you. Here’s to my fellow skincare addicts that can’t help but pack their whole beauty regiment for a 3-day trip:
Since we’re only allowed 10 liquid products, I like to switch everything possible for more solid versions. Here are some ideas on how to switch your “daily” used liquids for a more TSA friendly version:
- Makeup Remover Balm/Makeup Wipes
- Stick Concealer
- Cushion-/Powder Foundations
- Hairgel instead of -spray
- Hairpowder instead of dry shampoo
- Solid Shampoo bar
- Stick Deodorants
Over the years, I managed to find great solid products, so the only liquids I carry are eyedrops, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, and sunscreen. You’ll find some of my favorites in the next section.
I also travel with a reusable bottle so I can fill it after passing the TSA screening. That’s also way better for the environment and keeps you hydrated on board.
Invest in transparent bags
There are many reusable transparent makeup bags on the market that will make your travels a lot more efficient. It also makes finding your make-up products a lot easier!
What about electronics?
TSA will need to screen your devices like your laptop, which requires you to take it out of your luggage. I wouldn’t recommend having your laptop in your carry-on suitcase anyway, since it could break a lot more easily. I usually keep my laptop in my tote bag to take it out in just a second. The chargers are usually in my suitcase since I mostly don’t use them while flying.
So… What goes where?
That’s it for my carry-on only packing tips! I hope they were helpful, so you’re mastering the art of perfecting carry-on only travel. Let me know in the comments if you’re Team carry-on, or Team checked bag! Let’s connect on Instagram and share travel stories around the world! Stay tuned for some more travel packing hacks in the future ♥
As always, stay happy and healthy!
See you soon,