CARRY-ON ONLY: How to pack light and travel like a pro

While it’s great to have the option, checking in luggage can sometimes be a pain. The extra costs, the long waits at the baggage claim, and the (actually quite tiny, but pesky when it happens) risk of luggage going AWOL are all best avoided where possible.

But here’s a tip: If you fit everything in your carry-on, you don’t have to bother checking in luggage at all. Just follow these five tips for packing light and travelling like a pro.

Kiss these babies goodbye.

1. Know your airline’s carry-on size limit

Not all airlines are created equal, especially when it comes to carry-on luggage. Each has their own limits and rules that you should research before checking in.

Most airlines allow either one large or two smaller items, like a bag and a laptop case or a garment carrier. The dimension limits change depending on the type of aircraft you’re jumping on as well, with smaller Dash 8 planes only allowing one bag, while international flights on larger planes like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 are usually more generous.

Knowing the limits for the types of travel you do most regularly will give you the info you need to buy luggage that best suits your needs. It pays to do your homework!

2. Choose the right bag

An awesome carry-on bag is a serious game-changer, but if you want more packing space you might need to forego some of the luxuries you’re used to. Bags with wheels are handy when you’re on the go, but those wheels add weight and cut into the space inside the case. If you really need wheels but want to maximise your packing space, choose a bag with one wheel instead of two.

Hard cases offer the maximum protection to your belongings and usually look pretty slick. But like wheels, the hard case adds weight and the protective elements often intrude on the inside of your luggage.

If you’re ready to commit to the baggage-free life, look for dedicated backpacks designed for use as carry-on luggage. They’re not as bulky as hiking packs and offer a suitcase layout rather than the compartments of a typical backpack. This is great, as traditional backpack compartments just add extra fabric that restrict the volume of items you can pack.

This backpack is NOT packed to airline standards. Fail.

3. Ditch non-essential items like toiletries and books

Don’t cringe just yet. These days, even the simplest of stays usually provide a raft of toiletries. As for the books, they’re one of the heaviest, bulkiest items you could possibly pack. Check ahead to see what toiletries your hotel offers so you only need to pack the bare minimum. If you *must* have your particular brand of whatever, invest in a travel-sized version or put what you need into a smaller container.

For reading, think about getting an e-reader or saving your reading material to your smartphone or tablet. We promise it’ll change your life.

4. The packing

Here’s where we get really creative. It’s time to maximise every inch of space you have. Limit your clothing items to lightweight, versatile pieces that are easy to mix and match. Use vacuum seal bags to suck the air out of everything. Roll your clothes to prevent creasing and create more packing opportunities. Fill every empty spot (like the holes in your shoes) with socks and other small items. And have no shame about layering up for the airport. You won’t be the only person boarding the plane in an overcoat, even if it is the middle of summer where you’re departing from.

Who needs this many pairs of jeans? Take them out and try again.

5. Turn your clothes inside out

There’s only one problem with packing your clothes together super tight – the dyes can bleed out and create stains on other items. But you can minimise the risk by turning your clothes inside out and wrapping your shoes in shower caps.

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