Upgrade From Team Checked To Team Carry-On With These Expert-Approved Tips

Planning for your next big trip? Get like me.

Life & Travel

If you are like me when it comes to packing, you are Team Carry-On! I refuse to spend money on checking a bag, especially when traveling on a budget. I like to save money in as many places as possible and cutting out unnecessary baggage fees is high on the list. Finding ways to make packing as painless and efficient as possible was a must. Luckily, this is one place where you can save money fairly easily by carrying on your bag. With a little pre-trip planning, you can pack a carry-on intended for overnight trips with as much as three weeks of travel essentials. Sounds impossible, I know, but I have done it and learned a few things to achieve this goal.

Check out these five tips on packing and try them out on your next trip!

1. Invest in quality luggage.

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As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." Investing in quality luggage is the foundation of being able to pack your carry-on and feel comfortable that it will last throughout your trip. Traveling can be stressful enough, but trying to move around any location with shabby luggage can be nerve-racking. Think of it like this, your luggage spends a good amount of time out of your sight. Starting from going into overhead luggage on the plane, to staying behind in the hotel while you are out for the day, almost all the way until you get back home. That bag is transporting some of the most valuable pieces of your trip so it should be safe, dependable, and durable. So, start with looking for a luggage brand that is trusted amongst other travel experts and look for the features that matter most to you based on how you travel.

For me, travel can involve anything from long layovers or delays, to interesting car rentals (one time my entire group's luggage was strapped to the top of the car during a rainstorm), to getaways that last two to three weeks. In this case, you would need luggage that could fit compactly in spaces without giving up space on the inside to pack, as well as luggage that has some special features like a battery charger for long delays. Also, your luggage should be durable enough to be handled roughly without sacrificing being able to be flexible enough to pack as many essentials as possible. Take stock of your travel habits and packing habits and research a few brands to see what fits your needs. Some brands will even let you try their luggage for a trial run to see how you like it before buying.

2. Roll your clothes to create more space.

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Purchasing quality luggage with all the features you need is one of the many aspects of packing a carry-on efficiently. You still need to develop a packing strategy style. Get creative when packing your clothes into your luggage. The more creative you get, the more space you can create. There are lots of packing methods out there but a personal favorite of mine is the military roll. Rolling your clothes creates so much room and allows for you to pack more if you are an over-packer like me.

Each article of clothing can be rolled into a compact cylinder and stacked neatly on top or next to each other inside the luggage space. Geometrically, this can take up less surface area per article of clothing, leaving plenty of space to pack all those clothing options you were undecided about. I also like to take hair ties and wrap them around clothes that won't stay neat in their rolls for extra security. An added and unexpected bonus to rolling your clothes is it can help with reducing the number of wrinkles in your clothes while stored in luggage.

3. Layer your clothes.

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Rolling your clothes is a great way to pack more clothing items. But, layering them is a level up in the organization game. There are two ways you can do this and save space in your carry-on. The first way is to layer similar clothing articles inside of each other. What this means is put shirts inside of shirts, dresses inside of dresses, pants inside of pants and so on. You can layer two to three items depending on the thickness of the clothing items. This will increase the volume of your clothes' roll but decrease the number of rolls, saving you space and keeping your clothes organized by type.

The second method is to roll complete outfits together. For instance, roll a shirt, pants, socks, and undergarments in one roll as compact as possible. If need be, put socks and undergarments in the pockets of larger clothing items to keep rolls tidy. If you are someone who overpacks, try this method; it can help you edit your clothing options by creating your looks before you even pack them.

4. Use purses and backpacks as packing cubes.

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I am not big on buying too many accessories that make packing seem easy. Some accessories just feel cumbersome and more trouble than they are worth. I do think packing cubes are a great investment into your travel luggage game. Not only do they keep your wardrobe organized, but they also keep everything in neat small packs so nothing is sliding around in your suitcase. However, I am also a budget traveler and until I budget the money for extra packing accessories, here is a hack around packing cubes.

Use purses, backpacks, fanny packs, or any bag that you plan on using during your trip as a packing cube. Some of us like to switch bags depending on our outfits for the day but it may be hard to pack all that into limited space. As space becomes less and less, the accessories are usually where I begin to cut first. Using bags as packing cubes allows you to bring all of your fabulous bag options while giving you a way to keep everything in organized units. First world problems, I know, but you have to think outside of the box to pack optimally for a carry-on.

5. Practice packing methods.

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My last piece of advice and probably the most critical is testing out your packing strategy before going on longer trips or international trips. In 2017, I challenged myself to pack a carry-on all year. I did a lot of research on luggage brands and landed on the perfect brand to fit my travel needs. Then I packed different ways for each trip as a trial run to see what I liked, didn't like, and where I could improve until I developed my own style.

By the time I was ready for my first international trip of 2018, I had my routine down. This made it easier to get packing done initially before the trip, cutting down on the amount of time it took me to pack, and editing my wardrobe to necessary items. Also, it made me more organized and cut out the anxiety of possibly losing luggage overseas.

These tips have worked for all types of trips and hopefully, they will help you on your next adventure, too.

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