Travel Light With These 33 Carry On Packing Tips
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Travel Light With These 33 Carry On Packing Tips

Mar 18, 2023

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Save that checked luggage fee to spend on your actual trip.

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Create a packing list even before you take a single item out. Whether it's on a handy prefilled notepad or just on the Notes app of your phone, spend some time really thinking about everything you need so you don't panic and try to shove in 25 pairs of extra undies and three sweatshirts at the last minute.

Swap your regular hot tool for a 2-in-1 straightener and curling iron so you only have to bring *one* tool, no matter how you want to wear your hair. It has dual voltage for international trips, too.

Every ounce of space is precious, which means you don't have room for a bulky neck pillow. But don't worry, that's what the Trtl pillow is for. It folds up thin and compact, and when you're ready to use, just wrap it around your neck — underneath the soft fleece is an internal support structure designed to keep your head in a comfy position for sleeping upright.

Navigate by the airline(s) you regularly fly, and Amazon will weed out the options that won't fit into the overhead bins. Now you can really *maximize* your size based on the airlines you fly most often.

The amount of extra undies I bring on trips...why?!

Get this handy notepad from Amazon for $7 (available in two colors, plus a road trip–specific list).

Promising review: "I just used this for a recent trip to Florida from California. It made it easier to remember things. I used to have a list, that I made, on my computer to remind me, my husband, and child what to pack. My daughter is out on her own now and my husband passed away recently. So, I just need a list for me. This helped me think of things I NEVER thought to put on my list. It has extra lines for you to add anything extra like crochet project, handicapped parking plaque, etc. It's not too big, but can easily be read. There are boxes to check off as you go and room to add quantity to clothing items. I hope these are ALWAYS available!" —Connie Woods

This one checks all the boxes: super roomy, zips completely open (like a suitcase — so it's easy to find what you need), has plenty of pockets (including one for shoes and a separate wet bag!), and a strap that slides down over your luggage handle for easy transport. And reviewers say it meets even Spirit and JetBlue's personal item rules and fits under airplane seats!

Get it from Amazon for $39.99 (available in 18 colors and styles).

Promising review: "I bought this backpack for work. It's the BEST backpack I've ever used. I needed one with several pockets and not too big or heavy. I found that with this backpack, I can fill it and still have room! There's even a shoe and clothing compartment for traveling! The straps are just wide enough to stay on your shoulders especially with the snap straps in front. I also love the color, and it's true to the picture color. If you're looking for lightweight with tons of pockets, this is what you need!" —Kelly Miller

Promising review: "This is a perfect size backpack for traveling on a plane as your personal item, especially to international destinations. You could fit rolled-up clothes in here for another week, and it has a very handy shoe bag and tons of places for your electronics. This will be an excellent addition to my carry-on suitcase. Best purchase all year. I consider myself an expert on travel bags. I have way too many. It's smaller than it looks but so roomy." —AP

Many sites will give you the seasonal average weather for that date and location so you can plan your outfits (or what you might need to buy) before the actual forecast is available closer to your trip. You can also look at *past* years for the same info! I always use this to plan the kind of things I need to bring when I travel...far in advance!

Get this one from Amazon for $31.99 (available in women's sizes XS–3X and 19 colors).

Promising review: "Lightweight, water resistant, perfect for traveling! I bought this to wear in Iceland. It rolls up and goes into a little pouch, which makes it easier to carry. It kept me nice and dry when I was walking the rainy, misty streets of Iceland as well as the many waterfalls I visited. I highly recommend." —Karin M. Dixey

The military-style roll is basically like the regular roll, but taken to ~the next level~. "Clown car" is all about ~stacking~ before folding and tucking.

And if you like a classic fold but have a hard time seeing everything in your suitcase, the front-to-back style is a good option. It's also *great* for storing tees in your drawers at home so you can see what's what.

Check out more carry-on tips at One Good Thing By Jillee.

You can use zip-top bags, as pictured above, packing cubes, or whatever else you have around the house.

It comes with a laundry bag to separate your dirty clothes on your way back, and the cubes have mesh tops so you can see what's inside!

Get the set of six pictured above from Amazon for $22.99 (available in 20 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "These packing cubes exceeded my expectations!!!! I was able to pack for a seven-day cruise: seven day outfits, seven evening dresses, six swimsuits and six swim cover-ups. Along with 10 pairs of undergarments, four PJ sets, and three bras. It was wild. I highly recommend! I used a Vera Bradley weekend tote to fit my packing cubes and then a separate bag for shoes, toiletries, etc. worked perfectly! Very happy with my purchase." —Elias Zuloaga

::Cough, me studying abroad, cough::

Get a pack of eight from Amazon for $15.95 (also available in larger packs).

Promising review: "These were life savers! We took a 10-day trip to Europe and were able to pack only in a carry-on using these! I used two medium in my carry on and my husband used three in his carry on. I packed all my undergarments, five dresses, four pairs of jeans, multiple blouses, three pairs of shorts, and a few other pieces of clothing. And still has room for my shoes. These will definitely be used each time we travel now. Well worth it." —Amazon Customer

I did this on a trip to Greece, and my wide-brim sun hat got there and back without a single crease!

Then you can pack your shoes inside shoe bags (like I do) to keep the dirty soles away from your clothes, or just pop on a shower cap ($4.99 for a set of three), like pictured here!

Get a pack of four drawstring shoe bags (they're clear tops so you can see which pair is which) for $15.99 at Amazon.

Get more inspiration at Extra Petite.

Another tip? Pull out all the clothes you want to bring, then put one third of them away — you probably won't need 'em!

Reviewers love the one pictured above: it folds up truly tiny, has no weird plastic taste, and has an easy-to-clean wide mouth.

Get it from Amazon for $8.99+ (available in four sizes and 18 colors).

Promising review: "I took this water bottle on a recent trip to Iceland. In Iceland, water from any tap is glacier water and is absolutely delicious. This bottle made it easy to fill up whenever I wanted, even in I stream near a waterfall! It rolls up so it takes up little space. I never dribbled any while drinking, so I would say it's easy to drink from. It has a clip that would fit on a belt or belt loop, but I wear neither so I carried it easily with one finger in the clip. I found it easy to rinse. I'm 100% happy with the quality of this bottle." —nanykin

Get a pack of eight packets from Amazon for $14.99.

Promising review: "I bought a pack to take along on our UK and Ireland Christmas vacation. We were going to be gone for two weeks and I knew that there would be times where we needed to hand wash items and have them ready the next day. We were able to, throw some essential items into the hotel room sink and hand wash them and hang them to dry. It did pull out dirt and grime and left our clothes with a fresh scent. It's a smart purchase and I will be sending a pack along with my daughter for her study abroad trip to Peru next month." —Jill Foster

Get it from Amazon for $13.99 (available in nine colors).

Promising review: "Really amazing value – it looks pretty luxe but I can't believe the price I bought it for — especially considering how expensive jewelry boxes can be. I use this one for travel and it's perfect (I have a larger one for all my jewelry as well. I really like that you can move the little dividers in the bottom compartment around too that's been very helpful" —Dee

Get it from Amazon for $59.99 (available in four colors).

Promising review: "The trtl pillow is much better than a standard travel pillow due to the neck support it offers. It is difficult for me to sleep on planes but with the trtl i can sleep even in tiny cramped budget airline seats. It also folds pretty flat which makes it easy to pack in a carry on item. Most comfortable travel pillow." —Sofia Allison

No more holding up the security line triple-checking to see if you still have your passport. Just a touch of first-class style, at an economy price. It's made of RFID-blocking material, too.

Get the one pictured above from Amazon for $11.99 (available in 39 colors).

Promising review: "I absolutely love this wallet. I needed a new travel wallet, and this holds everything I need all in one place, and it still closes nicely and stays flat! Boarding pass, passport, ID and credit cards, money, checked baggage tickets, receipts, etc.! Yet it doesn't bulk up or look like an overstuffed mess. Just amazing. The description says it only holds US money, but I just used the boarding pass flap to hold all my Japanese yen (¥), which are larger. I didn't use the zippered pocket for coins as I much prefer a separate coin purse for that sort of thing. I definitely recommend to anyone who travels a lot!" —Anthony Luu

Get the set of four bottles and two jars pictured above from Amazon for $11.99 (available in six colors).

Promising review: "I've taken these on about five trips so far. They've endured air pressure and altitude changes from flying and have spent quality time in a hot car. Not even a hint of a leak so far — I love it. These are soft, durable, and seal well. They were easy to fill as the mouths are relatively wide. They dispense well, although I've yet to test them on something with an extremely thin consistency. So far, I've filled them with lotion, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, and hair gel. Would buy again." —Ahvienda Kotura

Learn more at The Beauty Department.

Get the Belif set (which includes Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist, Hungarian Water Essence, The True Cream Aqua Bomb, Moisturizing Eye Bomb, and Aqua Bomb) from Amazon for $23.

Promising review: "I love this brand. It's great to find it in a travel size it was so lucky as I was going on my first trip post pandemic. I was gone 7 days and still have 1/2 left. Perfect it has cleanser, eye crime, day and night creams. It's so hydrating." —Laurel Lee

It has a swiveling, tangle-free cord, too.

Get it from Amazon for $59.95 (also available in white).

Promising review: "I bought this for a trip to Italy, as I didn't have a dual-voltage iron (and you can't just use a converter-adapter combination with things that heat up). I liked that it was a flat iron and curling iron combo, so I could change things up as I desired. It worked beautifully on our trip — I look nice in all my selfies ;) — and continues to work beautifully at home. In fact, I've replaced my old flat iron with this because of the versatility and now use this one every day. BTW, in case you are wondering, it automatically switches to the appropriate voltage, no looking for a switch or anything. You don't need to do anything but plug it in! Great product!" —Diane Field

It has nonlooping white noise, ocean sounds, and fan sounds AND doubles as a Bluetooth speaker so you can jam out to your favorite tunes while getting ready.

Get it from Amazon for $34.95 (available in three colors).

Promising review: "I travel a lot for work and need some kind of noise to cover up sounds from the hallway in hotels. This little device is the best one I've found. I've found one of the sound options that sounds just like an AC unit that puts me to sleep in an instant. And no worries that the hotel AC stops running in the middle of the night as they usually do and you wake up to a silent room and can't go back to sleep. The sounds on this little guy are the best ones I've heard. Buy this for travel and you won't be sorry!" —KJ

Shop Delsey luggage like the one pictured here on Amazon.

BTW, you can get the chunky Steve Madden sneakers pictured above from Amazon for $99.95 (available in women's sizes 5–13 and 28 colors and styles).

Get this one from Amazon for $17.89 (available in 33 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "I purchased this wrap so that I could use it as a blanket on the airplane and also use it as a fashion scarf on my travels. I've gotten many compliments on it and absolutely love it! Definitely one of my travel essentials now. I've also washed it a couple of times now and it's still in great shape." —C. Behrends

I never thought I'd be an e-reader person, but living in a New York apartment with limited bookshelves changed my ways. I love love (love love love) my Kindle — especially for easily borrowing library books, squeezing in a few chapters on a subway ride, and of course traveling. I lit'rally read 10 times as much with a Kindle in my life.

Get the newest 2022 version ofr the basic Kindle (now with backlight and TWICE as much storage!) from Amazon for $99.99 (available in black and blue). Or shop the newest version of the Kindle Paperwhite ($139.99) for poolside or beach reading — it's WATERPROOF *and* has an adjustable warm backlight!

This one folds into a teensy pouch when not in use, is tear and water resistant, and even has a separate side pocket for shoes. Aaaaand it has a strap on the side that slides easily over your roller luggage handle.

Just keep it in your regular suitcase between trips, and you'll never forget it. Fold-up duffels like these are my GO-TO when going on a vacation I know will be shopping heavy. And then you can bring your new finds on the plane to ensure they don't get lost (it's 20 inches, making it perfect for the overhead compartment).

Get it from Amazon for $17.99 (available in 23 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "We bought this to take with us when we visited our daughter who is studying abroad for four months. We figured she would not have enough room in her luggage when it was time to come home. Folded up, this bag was so compact and lightweight it took up almost no room in our own luggage for the trip over. Then, sure enough, she had a ton of clothes and shoes to send home with us and packed this bag full. We checked the bag and it made it through two international flights without a scratch. The BEST feature is the side strap that allows you to slide it over the handle of a rolling suitcase so you don't have to carry it. This is probably the most practical and the best-value item I have purchased in years." —Tosa Mom

Just stuff them in and squeeze to release the extra air!

Get this cute map-print one from Amazon for $12.23 (also available in an airplane print).

Promising review: "As a frequent traveler, this bag has been great for packing dirty laundry on the return trip home. It will hold much more than I usually put in it and compresses nicely in the suitcase. I toss it in the washer along with the clothes and it has held up for well over a year now." —CC

The stroller is supposed to fit kids from 6 months up to 55 pounds (approx. 5 years).

Get it from Amazon for $279.99.

Promising review: "This stroller is great! So cool looking, too. I constantly have moms coming up to me asking where I got this! So easy to fold, so light, and barely takes any space in my trunk. We took it on a flight, and the flight attendants recognized the stroller and told me that I can just wheel the baby on and put the stroller in the overhead bin. I wish I had gotten this stroller with my oldest, but I was being cheap. This stroller is so worth the money. I regret not getting it sooner! But at least my youngest can enjoy it." —Nai Len

Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.