Flying is expensive; it’s probably the most expensive part of your trip, in terms of both money and time. To top it off, some airlines actually charge for checking bags, even the first one. But what are you supposed to do? You need clothes.
There is an alternative solution, however, just use a carry-on. Now some airlines do charge for carry-on bags, Spirit, and other budget airlines. So you’ll want to do your research before you book.
You really have two choices when it comes to bag type: roller-bag and backpack.
If you’re going to be staying in urban areas, and possibly moving from one city to another, the roller-bag is your friend. But remember, wheels and handles count in those measurements.
If you’re going backpacking or planning on spending most of your time off-the-beaten-path then you’ll want a backpack. There are a lot of options out there, but military surplus backpacks are usually roomy.
The other advantage to a backpack is that it will be easier to squish down in the overhead compartment than a roller-bag.
2. Pack for a week
Going on vacation for a weekend to a week? Great. Going for two weeks? A month? Pack for a week.
Many hotels have a laundry room. Even if they don’t, laundromats still exist in many places.If it’s just a question of washing a couple t-shirts and socks, get some detergent and do laundry in the hotel sink.
This means no just-in-case outfits. Just the basics. This means two pairs of pants, a shirt for each day, and one sleep outfit. But, if you want to bring extra socks or underwear, that’s ok.
3. Pick a color palette
This will simplify picking out a week’s worth of outfits. Single tone bottoms, like black or tan, will make
your life easier. Save your color for tops. Just make sure every piece can be paired with every other piece.
For women travelling in the summer, sundresses are light, small, don't need to be matched, and take up less space than a bunch of separates.
This is common sense even if you’re checking luggage. Rolled items take up less space, and get fewer wrinkles.
5. Two pairs of shoes only
This includes the pair you wear. Sorry. You’ll wear your biggest, heaviest pair on the plane. This will be your gym shoes or boots. You’ll pack your smaller, lighter pair, be it sandals or flats.
This is not the time to be trying to fit in your just in case shoes.
*Bonus tip: Pack your socks in your packed pair of shoes to free up space.
6. Ditch your toiletries
This might be the biggest problem with only using a carry-on. Because of airport security rules, you can’t take full sized bottles of liquid on the plane. You’re limited to no more than 3.4 ounces.
I say don’t bother. Use the shampoo and conditioner provided by the hotel. If that doesn’t work for you, just buy some while you’re there.
7. Wear as much as possible on the plane
If your vacation is in the fall or winter, or you’re going to a place where it gets cold, you’ll have to pack heavier clothes. Your best bet is to layer for your trip.
Wear your coat over a sweater or cardigan over a long sleeve shirt. Get creative, and use your pockets.
8. Don’t forget your personal item
Personal items are an underappreciated and often misused luggage item. The allowed dimensions for
personal items are usually 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm), but check your airline’s website to be sure.
Don’t waste this on a laptop bag or purse. Pick a small backpack or a day pack and pack a day purse (for women) inside. This means you’ll be ditching your laptop. If you need to stay connected choose a light-weight tablet. If it doubles as an e-reader, it’s even better.
This is where you’re going to pack electronics (don’t overdo it), important papers, snacks and necessities you can’t get into your carry-on.
9. Souvenir shop carefully
Souvenirs are great, but if you only have a carry-on you have to be careful what you buy. No decorative knives or snow globes. And no bottles of wine. You won’t be able to get them through security.
The one exception to this is stuff purchased in duty free shops after you pass security. And, bonus, most airlines don’t count duty free bags in your cabin-baggage allowance.
However, if you have to change planes in another country, that might mean going through customs and having to clear security again. Your duty free bottle of wine will get confiscated, sorry.
There are a lot of benefits to travelling light, so test it out on your next trip. And if you find you really need something you didn’t count on, try second-hand shops, they’re great, I promise.