Updated on February 13th, 2019
Who wants to deal with checking a bag when you travel? Carry-ons aren’t just for quick trirps anymore. Use these tops for how to pack for a week in a carry-on.
As recently as just a decade ago, major airlines would allow you to check one bag prior to a flight without charging any fees. But today, the checked baggage policies for most airlines have changed.
According to a 2016 study, the median fee for checking a single bag now sits at about $25. And if you want to check two bags? You could be forced to pay an additional $35 fee.
Rather than subjecting yourself to these kinds of outlandish fees, why not pack for a week in a carry-on instead? It might seem like an impossible task at first, but you can save yourself quite a bit of money if you’re determined enough to do it.
Using a carry-on bag while packing for vacation won’t be easy. But it’ll be well worth it in the end. Here are tips that will help you skip the checked bag counter altogether.
1. Purchase the Biggest Possible Carry-On Bag
Before you start to pack for a week in a carry-on, you should check with your airline to see how large carry-on bags can be.
Generally speaking, carry-on bags are supposed to be no larger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″, including the handle and the wheels on a bag. But different airlines have different carry-on bag policies, so it’s best to give your airline a call to see what they allow.
Once you know the exact dimensions, you should purchase an acceptable carry-on bag. It’ll give you the most possible space when you begin packing for vacation.
2. Check the Weather For Your Vacation Destination
After you’ve secured a carry-on bag that’s big enough, your next order of business should be to check the weather for your vacation destination.
Is it going to be 90 degrees and sunny all week long? Then you probably won’t need to bring a rain slicker or a bunch of hoodies on your trip.
Is it going to be 50 degrees and rainy? The bathing suit and shorts you were planning on bringing will no longer need to take the trip.
Let the weather help dictate what you bring. It could obviously change a little between now and the time you touch down in your final destination. But it should provide you with a rough idea of what kinds of clothing you’ll need to bring with you.
3. Make a List of Everything You Want to Pack
Far too often, people will throw their luggage onto their beds, open up their dresser drawers, and start randomly pulling out clothing and stuffing it into their bags. Do not do this!
Let us say that again: Do. NOT. Do. This! It’s the easiest way to ensure that you’ll overpack your bag.
Instead, take 20 minutes and make a list of everything you want to pack for your trip. The list should be as specific as possible.
Make your list look something like this:
- 5 T-shirts
- 2 polo shirts
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 hoodie
- 1 bathing suit
- 1 nice outfit for dinners
- Socks and underwear
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 pair of dress shoes
This list will serve as your guide once you start packing your carry-on bag. It’ll prevent you from overpacking and taking things that you don’t actually need on vacation.
4. Stick to Bringing Only the Basics
When you’re assembling your list of things to put into your carry-on bag, you should do your best to stick to the basics. Since space is going to be at a premium, you don’t want to waste a single square inch on something you might only wear once, if at all.
Basic doesn’t have to be boring, though. You can find great clothes from companies like Jared Lang that will serve lots of different purposes during your vacation. You can dress them up or down depending on the occasion and wear them to almost any event.
5. Roll Up Clothing Before Placing It Into Your Bag
After you’ve assembled a list of clothes you’re going to bring along with you on vacation, you should lay everything out in front of you on your bed.
From there, you should roll up things like T-shirts, polo shirts, pajamas, and even shorts. Items that have been rolled up won’t take up as much room as items that are folded regularly.
You should then start placing your clothing into your bag in a neat and orderly fashion. It’s usually best to begin with the larger items before surrounding them with smaller ones to fill in any gaps.
6. Fill Up Every Square Inch of Your Bag
Your goal when trying to pack for a week in a carry-on is going to be to fill up every single square inch of your bag with something. This could take a little bit of creativity on your part, but it’s entirely possible to use up all of the space available to you.
If, for instance, you’re going to put a pair of shoes into your carry-on bag, you should fill it with socks, underwear, and even small toiletries. By doing this, you’ll take advantage of all your space.
You do want to be careful about overstuffing your bag. You could end up pushing your bag to its limits and either breaking the bag or making it too large to be considered a carry-on.
But at the same time, you don’t want to pass up on easy opportunities to get more inside of your bag if you have the room. It’s all about taking advantage of what you have to work with.
7. Avoid Packing Too Many Pairs of Shoes
We know that we just mentioned using the shoes that you put into your carry-on bag to your advantage. But if you can, you should avoid bringing too many pairs of shoes along for your vacation.
You should wear a comfortable pair of sneakers to the airport for your flight. Those sneakers should be the main pair of shoes that you wear on vacation.
You can also pack a pair of flip-flops if you want since they aren’t going to take up much real estate in your bag. They’ll come in handy if you’re visiting a sandy location.
But outside of those two shoe options, you shouldn’t really need anything else. A lot of travelers make the mistake of packing four or five pairs of shoes and realize they don’t even need them once they arrive at their destination.
8. Wear Any Heavy Clothes You Want to Bring on the Plane
If you’re traveling somewhere that’s warm and sunny, you probably won’t need to bring a jacket, a hoodie, or any other larger and heavier items of clothes.
But if, by some chance, you think you’ll need a jacket or a hoodie on your vacation, you should show up at the airport with them already on. Even if you have to layer up and sweat a little on your way into the airport, you shouldn’t ever try to fit a jacket or hoodie into a carry-on bag.
These items will waste too much space. They’ll also be difficult to get to if you do happen to need a jacket or hoodie on your flight.
9. Resist the Urge to Add Anything to Your Bag After It’s Packed
If you’ve followed all the steps listed here thus far, you should have a fully packed carry-on bag ready to go. It has everything that you could possibly need for your vacation inside of it.
Or, does it?
That’s the question that you’re going to ask yourself over and over and over again in the days leading up to your flight. And if you let it get the best of you, that question is going to have you second-guessing whether or not you need to add more to your bag.
“What if I need another hoodie on cold nights?” you’ll ask. “Or what if I need a second pair of jeans for the nightclub at my hotel?”
Before long, you’ll be opening your bag back up and stuffing it with more clothing.
It’s only natural to worry a little bit about forgetting something that you’ll need on vacation back at home. But resist the urge to add anything else to your carry-on bag once it’s packed.
As long as you started this whole process off by making a list, you should rest easy knowing you have everything you need for your trip in your bag.
10. Pack For a Week in a Carry-On Without Any Problem
If you’ve never done it before, the thought of trying to pack for a week in a carry-on can be overwhelming. It’ll feel like your carry-on won’t give you the space you need while packing for vacation.
But once you make a list of the things you need to bring and start packing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is. And you’ll love how much time and money it saves you in the end when you don’t have to worry about checking a bag.
Want to learn even more travel packing trips for your next vacation? Read our blog to get the scoop.