Aug 8, 2017

Four Steps to Traveling Lighter With A Carry On

Happy Tuesday friends! Today my friend Emily is sharing some simple steps to help you travel lighter with your carry on bags! As someone whose actually traveling this weekend back home to Chicago ( what up BSB and FGL concert ! ) this is a huge help to me! 

As a frequent traveler, even though I have a travel credit card that allows me a free checked bag, I almost always prefer to pack a carry-on if I can. It makes layovers simpler, saves time going to and from your gate and you know you’ll never lose your bag (I’ve never lost it, but maybe I have trust issues hah). Besides, who wants to deal with tons of STUFF when you’re traveling?!
Once upon a time, I backpacked for a week through Europe with only a small 19lb backpack and washed clothes every three days in bathroom sinks or hostel laundry mats. I’ve aged out of that particular practice, but I still like to pack light if at all possible! I have THIS CARRY ON but its not my dream carry-on. Don’t get me wrong, its a great spinner bag and I have ZERO issues with it, but I would lovvvve one that has a TSA-friendly lock and maybe a hard-cover that’s expandable but also has a zipper pocket? Lightweight and four spinners is a given. I’m saving up for THIS ONE or THIS ONE. And THIS ONE is so pretty! Do you have one you like under $150? I would love a few recommendations!
Step 1: Check the weather at your destination.
This should be a no-brainer, but it is WAY easier to pack if you know what you actually need to pack. Cold-weather needs bulkier clothes, hot-weather usually needs smaller clothes. If I need coats that usually limits what else I can take and if there will be drastic weather changes then usually that means I need to pack lots of layers. I look at the weather each week starting a month out and then the day before for a final weather check. Accuweather is my favorite app
Step 2: Loosely plan your outfits and make a packing list.
Once I check the weather, I usually list the days I’ll be traveling and then write down what I’ll need to wear for each day or any specific events, noting any items with overlap (coat I can wear for two days etc). Then I set them out and pare down if there is too many. Mix and match tops and bottoms to get more use out of everything. This process usually takes me about 10-15 minutes so it may sound complicated but I promise practice makes perfect! If you need an item you don’t have, I highly recommend using Rent the Runway. I’ve rented dresses and coats from them for trips!
Tip 3: Use Packing Cubes and compression bags.

These aren’t a life-hack, they’re more like a must. There are two ways to use them. First, you can get medium or small cubes and pack by day / outfit. Then you don’t need to upend your entire suitcase to dress for a day, just pull that day’s cube! The other way to use them is to pack bottoms in one and tops in the other and the third way is you can pack based on whatever fits where. I usually use two large packing cubes for my carry-on, sometimes three. TJ uses one in his duffle bag and I usually use one in my personal item. I have THESE CUBES and THESE CUBES but there are plenty of great ones out there. I’ve heard great things about THESE.
Another easy thing to do is to use quart and gallon size bags for specific items or clothes and compress all the air out of them to basically vacuum pack your clothes. It works great with sweaters, underwear, tops etc. I like to do this with my underwear and sometimes socks and stuff them in a floppy hat, then flip the hat upside down in my suitcase so it can keep shape.
Tip 4: Roll, don’t fold.
There isn’t much to say about this tip except rolling prevents wrinkles and allows you to fit more into your suitcase. Usually in the states I travel with a hand-steamer but internationally, well, I haven’t been able to get it to work without spitting LOTS of hot steaming water all over my clothes. So what I do now is steam my clothes, let them cool and then roll them directly after

Example Packing List
Trip: Four days / Three Nights in London. Weather was 45-65, chance of rain each day and I didn’t need some of the clothes I brought. I’ll put a * by the ones I didn’t use this trip but packed. 
Packing Cube 1 (goes in the carry on): white jeans*, dark blue jeans, black jeans, one large sweater, sweater dress*.
Packing Cube 2 (goes in the carry on): Two short sleeve shirts, two tanks*, one long sleeve shirt, pajamas, two bras. One scarf.
In the Carry On: Tall boots, short booties, wool coat, trench coat, leather jacket*, Straightener, Curling Wand, floppy hat flipped upside down with underwear and socks stuffed on the inside to keep the shape. Front outside pockets: supplements/vitamins, mouthguard, toothbrush, hair brush.
In my personal item / large tote:
Smaller packing cube with electronics (Go Protravel converterexternal battery pack, chargers and cords, camera in small padded case), laptop in padded case, makeup bag with my 5 minute makeup look, quart size bag with liquids (I always keep it in the tote because then I don’t have to open my suitcase during security), cross-body purse, Bose headphones, wristlet with passport /cards etc.

PLEASE NOTE: I have also used a similar list for a six day / five night trip to Ireland, a four day / three night weekend in Paris and will use it for a five day / four night trip to Germany in June. It is totally possible to do a carry on for a few weeks if you have the ability to wash your clothes and are going to a place with consistent weather. When I went to Dubai for eight days / seven nights I did check a larger bag and there was no way I could have done just a carry-on because of all the different types of events and locations I had to pack for.
A few things that impact what I pack and if I can take a carry-on:
  • If I need my laptop.
  • If I’ll be working-out more than yoga and basic exercises in the room. I will often wear my leggings, tennis shoes, sports bra and sweatshirt on the plane so that I have one workout outfit.
  • If I need to take a hanging bag with dress clothes.
  • If there will be drastic weather changes or multiple locations with different weather.
  • Will I take my pillow?
  • Is it a cold-weather or hot-weather trip?
Happy traveling! Do you have any pro-packing tips? Read my 10 tips on how to sleep better on a plane HERE and all about our long-weekend in Paris long-weekend HERE.

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