How to Pack In a Carry On – All My Secrets Revealed

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When I first met Mark and we had been on a couple of dates, I told him I was the best packer.  My dear husband most likely thought in the beginning during those “courting” months as I like to call them, that I may have been a tad bit high maintenance.  He couldn’t even fathom thinking about the girl who perfectly accessorized every detail of her outfit would ever be able to know how to pack in a carry on when traveling.  He didn’t know at the time of all of my years of growing up as a figure skater and traveling all over the world. During that time I was allowed one suitcase and my skate bag, that was it.  I became a very efficient packer.  Now, Mark when we first started traveling together, he was the king of checked bags, a carry on and a backpack.  Then here was me over here with a carry on and my Neverfull.  Now like all things relationships, slowly but surely the training begins and I’m proud to say…..

We both took carry ons for our almost two week Honeymoon to Europe.

Yes you read that correctly.  A carryon for European travel.  I will tell you how this amazing feat was accomplished on how to pack in a carry on.

How To Pack in a Carry On Pin Me!

How to Pack in a Carry On

First Get a Really Good Bag

You don’t need a Tumi bag to pull this off, just a really good suitcase.  I have this Samsonite one but this DVF set is on my lust list. The main objective is that the bag can zip around expand.  Worst case scenario, I can sit all my body weight on top of it and zip it close. Which has definitely happened more than once.  Clothes really do grow after you wear them right?


Travel Sizes Galore

I stock pile travel sizes of everything throughout the year from my toiletries to my makeup.  You can always go to Sephora and ask them for a few of their plastic sample jars and make your own samples. I travel with all my day to day products just in mini sizes, that way I don’t have to check my bag just because of that foundation that is over 3oz.  Get a good travel case and you are good to go.


Get Yourself Pre Checked

Mark and I got Global Entry but that is because we travel to Europe, TSA Precheck if you are going to stay in the US.  You do not have to take anything out of your bag i.e. laptops, products etc.  It saves so much time and if your bag is perfectly packed, having to rifle through it at airport screening really messes with that whole ability to just travel in a carry on.


The Holy Grail

Packing Cubes.  Seriously, these are game changers especially if you get this folding board.  Yes it totally feels OCD folding every piece of clothing but you will be able to get double the amount of clothing into your bag.  I guarantee it.  Also, if you are traveling to multiple places you just have to take out a cube instead of unpacking your entire bag.  I picked up mine on Amazon.  These will change your life, I promise.

How to use packing cubesPacking cubesPacking boards 17438293626_d0b1fe7e78_k


Pick Your Color Scheme

Mine is usually black, white and striped.  Everything goes with those.  Get yourself one of these and you can wear that so many different ways.  When you pick a color scheme, everything goes together and you can mix and match pieces.  You will get the most bang for your buck with the outfits you wear.

How to pack


Now if you go with the above related color scheme, accessorize with fun, bold colors to change it up.  Scarfs, necklaces, earrings and bright lipsticks go a long way in jazzing up outfits….bonus is they don’t take up a lot of room!


Plan Plan and Plan Some More

Check the weather where you are going, it seems pretty common sense but there is nothing worse than traveling somewhere to realize it is going to be unseasonably hot and you took up extra room with bulky sweatshirts.  Or a cold front is moving through and you should have brought gloves.  Having to buy clothes on vacation is costly and sometimes there isn’t room to bring them back.

Next, I always lay out my outfits for each day I plan on being away.  Sightseeing outfit one, two and three.  Out to dinner outfit one and two.  Pajamas, workout pants, etc etc.  This technique makes it impossible to over pack.  Once you have every outfit laid out then you can add maybe one of two fun pieces such a bright cardigan or top but that is it.  That way when you are at your destination you won’t have to waste time figuring out to wear, you already did the work on the front end.

how to pack in a carry on

Important note.  You know what takes up the most room?  Shoes.  Seriously you don’t need 5 pairs of shoes.  Wear your bulkiest pair on the plane, pack a pair of neutral ballet flats (bonus if they are foldable!) and a pair of dressy comfortable shoes.  That is all you need.  Try it next time, you really only need three.  Plus, if you have gone with a neutral color palette you won’t need to bring that pair of hot pink pumps, they won’t go with anything.

Best Piece of Advice

Don’t forget to back ziplock bags and grocery bags.  Grocery bags for your dirty laundy and shower caps to place your shoes into.  Leave your hairdryer at home.  I know your turbo salon quality hairdryer is the best but it takes up a ton of room and every hotel has one now. You can bring your flatiron, it’s small and will help smooth out the flyaways from the hotel hairdryer.  Ziplock for everything else.  To help your jewelry stay organized, to pack little snacks from the leftover breakfast buffet, to put your toothbrush in at the end of the trip. There are so many ways you need them for.  I love making little sandwiches from breakfast and having those as a snack when we are out sightseeing, plus we all know how we get when hungry, a hidden snack is always a good idea.


Now Some Pretty Travel Pictures to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Santorini GreeceSantorini Cruise shipSantorini ViewsSantorini TravelCaldera in SantoriniLittle Venice Mykonos

So that is how to pack in a carry on for my travel.  I will get another shot at this at the end of the week when we are off to San Francisco and Napa to celebrate on our one year wedding Anniversary weekend!  I hope you found this helpful and please pin and like on bloglovin if you did!  Can you pack in a carry on or are you a check the bag kind of person?  What are some of your tried and true secrets for travel?

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46 responses to “How to Pack In a Carry On – All My Secrets Revealed”

  1. I really need these travel cubes!

  2. Yes to TSA precheck! Makes life so much easier! And those travel cubes are awesome, I’ve never seen those before! This would have been helpful as I was packing last night LOL! Although nothing would help me with the huge chunky sweaters I was packing! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

  3. Christina says:

    This post is great! Packing is seriously a life skill. I’ve always done to Europe with just a carryon.. It’s amazing how much you can fit in there!

    Christina :: Simple and Delish

  4. You have willpower girl! This was insanely helpful though as I hear up for about 2 months straight of travel. I especially love the idea to pick a color scheme. Thanks for sharing!

    Erin, Attention to Darling

  5. Wonderful post!! Thank you so much for sharing. I only bring 2 or 3 pairs of shoes, I plan my outfits for each day, and I always bring ziplock bags. For me the only thing that gets challenging is the makeup. But I think that I’ve gotten better about that. You have also reminded me that I desperately need a new suitcase. Love those photos too, they’re gorgeous. :-)

  6. Kaitlin says:

    Such great trips!!! I pride myself on bringing next to nothing too but mainly for work travel. I do NOT check bags ;)

  7. Rachael says:

    Love this post – amazing. Need you to come and help me before my next trip

  8. Carly says:

    We are totally on the same page today! I love this post. I need to check out those folding boards. I’ve been rolling my clothes, maybe folding will save more space.

  9. Nikki says:

    I like to think I’m a pretty good packer, but those packing cubes…I need those!! I try to always put everything in my carry on especially with my frequent travels to Houston, checking in a bag is just way too much work!

  10. Lol “Now Some Pretty Travel Pictures to Lower Your Blood Pressure”! As a type a planner this is right up my alley! Pinning and putting those packing cubes on my wish list. I am driving on my birthday road trip, but I need to pack light so I can fit the stuff I hopefully buy!

  11. Rebecca Jo says:

    I dont travel – but I want that folding board just for my clothes in my drawers that get all frumbled up!

  12. marie says:

    Packing cubes are the best!! They make such a difference. Although, I’m not sure I could do just a carry-on. My hair products alone..hahah Great post! Beautiful pictures too.

  13. My husband and I are headed to Europe later on this year, and one of my goals is to try and pack everything in a carry on! Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to do it, and I’ll be saving this post to help me out when that time comes! So many great tips, especially the grabbing the testers from Sephora!

  14. Those cubes sound like such a neat little thing!! We don’t travel but these are some great tips!
    xo, Lily

  15. Awesome tips gurlie! Global Entry and TSA Precheck are absolute lifesavers! And I always try my best to only carry on, nothing is worse than lost luggage or waiting at the baggage claim instead of just getting out there and enjoying your destination <3
    Green Fashionista

  16. Lindsay says:

    So many amazing tips!! I am always worried I won’t be able to fit all of the 3 oz products I need into one ziplock, which is my biggest issue. I need to bring a carry on next week and I am SO stressed! I’m going to order the pack set and luckily I’m a nerd with a folding board already, but how do you fit all of the cosmetics liquids into one zip lock?

  17. Nadine says:

    I love those packing cubes, that is such a brilliant idea!!! And sticking with a color scheme is so smart to minimize how many things you need to bring and shoes to pack. Love how organized you are!!!

  18. Karly says:

    Well, this is definitely being added to my Travel Pinterest board! Holy cow, you are a master packer. I need those packing cubes immediately – what a genius idea to pack by location so you don’t have to dig through everything. I’m also big on planning out my outfits by day when we travel – it takes so much hassle and stress out of the process of deciding what to wear! Great post, lady!

  19. Cailee says:

    Oh my gosh! This is awesome! I love how organized you are! Everything looks perfect and so beautiful! Also, great tips. I think that packing baggies and zip locks is so important! Thanks for the advice! Also, your trip looks BEAUTIFUL!

  20. You are my hero. This is my biggest struggle. This gives me some hope that I can do it, oneday. And the DVF luggage is amazing!


    Whitney & Blaire

    Peaches In A Pod

  21. Great guide. I’m the queen of overpacking. I can’t even imagine myself going to Europe with just a carry on but you’ve inspired me to try for future trips. Those packing cubes are a great ideas! Breathtaking pictures to ease the blood pressure for sure. lol

  22. I’ve never used the packing cubes but may have to invest in some before our next trip!

  23. I’ve never tried travel cubes but now I MUST! these are so awesome. great advice!

  24. This is so helpful! Love the use of the cubes. Definitely going to try this next time I head somewhere!

  25. Kelsey says:

    This is fabulous!! I’m a want to pack in a carry on but always check girl :) Hoping these tips can help me pack lighter on our next trip!

  26. Shannon says:

    Ok I need to try these travel cubes! I am the worst packer!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

  27. Amy Ann says:

    Okay, color me impressed! A carry on for your European honeymoon?! Your cubes and folding board are great tips. I also need to get travel makeup sizes. That’s usually what hangs me up. The toiletries…

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  28. Amanda says:

    I’m definitely an advocate of Ziploc baggies, too!

  29. Jill says:

    No matter how hard I try, I’m still the worst packer! I love the idea of those travel cubes! Thanks for sharing these great tips!

    Doused In Pink

  30. Owen Davis says:

    You need to come to our house and teach my husband how to do this. Bless his heart, he loves clothes even more than I do! We each took a 50lb bag to Antigua for 5 days… Embarrassing!!!

  31. Christina says:

    Seriously, can you come pack for me?? Our suitcases just came out of the suitcase room and are starting to be packed but I wish I could do better with carryon’s – I try each trip and am slowly getting there but I’m with Owen – Derek is worse than me, it’s embarrassing! I need to check out those packing cubes – I’m loving the look of those!

  32. Jenn says:

    Those packing cubes!!! Genius! Also..need to know about that floral shirt on the couch behind you and your adorable white flower romper!!! SO cute!

  33. Jaelan says:

    I have wanted those packing cubes FOREVER. Now that I know they work, I’m going to pick some up. You are a packing pro!

  34. I’ve had my eye on some packing cubes for a while! It would be perfect when we’re all packing in one larger suitcase – one color for my things, one color for my husband and one color for kids. And love the idea that you just pull out what you need at that destination if you’re going to multiple stops. Smart!!

  35. Tiffany says:

    Pre check is a must! Saves so much time. I’ve never seen those cubes but will check them out. I use space saver bags and they work wonders as well. Great tips!

  36. kristen says:

    great tips! i really need some packing cubes.. well, i don’t ‘need’ them, but i want them. i have packed in a carry on for all our recent trips without them.. but i want them!

  37. This was awesome! I feel like I’m a pretty solid packer . . . I always roll my stuff to make more room . . . but you had some great tips here! So my question is . . . do you bring the folding board to fit the stuff back in because like you said, everything seems so much bigger on the return side!!!

  38. I’ve never heard of the travel cubes before, but they are genius! Totally agree about shoes – I always say you need an athletic pair, a casual pair, and a nice pair for dinners. Shoes rarely make the pictures when on vacation anyway ;)

  39. Lindsay says:

    I am seriously impressed with your packing skills! I definitely need to pick up your little folding/packing device – genius. Traveling is annoying enough (the actual flying part), but it would be way easier by not having checked bags. I always wayyyyy overpack; it’s ridiculous. I’m very inspired by you : )

  40. Sara says:

    I can’t with you. I think I need to try this for our Europe trip. We’re going to have some connections to non-related airlines so I think it would make our life way easier if I could do carry on only! Global Entry definitely saved us on the way back from Ireland, so I think that’s a great idea! ;)

  41. Claire says:

    Those travel cubes are incredible! I took a huge suitcase on my honeymoon to Mexico, and I didn’t wear half of what I brought. I definitely want to try these tips on my next trip!

  42. Julie Joy says:

    Impressive! I never heard of those cubes before and that’s really genius! I also use Ziploc bags as much as I can when packing and its really a life saver! Thanks for sharing!

  43. Charlotte says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this–funny, I have been considering those packing cubes… you may have just convinced me to make a purchase :) This is a really great post… my bf and I are traveling to Amsterdam in April and I’m already getting agita about the amount of clothing and stuff we’ll bring (believe it or not, he ends up with more than I do!), but this is great info :)

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