How to pack as light as possible

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The only thing you should worry about on vacay is what to do first, not your bags.

When by best friend told me her bags didn’t arrive at her vacay destination at the same time she did, my first question was:

“How many bags did you check?”

I won’t embarrass her by saying how many since she’ll probably read this post BUT it was way too many with way too may clothes that won’t be worn on vacation.

I am a HUGE fan of the carry on only method. Yes, I too was my bestie. I would pack a bag and always check it, paying those ridiculous checked-bag fees and waiting for it to come off the carousel at my destination.

Annoying. Why do the airlines need more of my money?

But no more, my friends! I now live by this rule: If I can’t carry it, I can’t pack it. So, how do I keep everything down to what I need?

It all started with this woman.

I fuzzy heart her. Sonia Gil is a travel vlogger and founder of Fluenz. Obviously, she knows a thing or two about traveling. I have watched her videos religiously and have used her tips to get my over packing under control. Here are some of my tips and others I’ve adopted from folks like Sonia that have proven useful.

1.) Get a good bag.

Love this bag. We've seen lots of places this bag and I.
Love this bag. We’ve seen lots of places this bag and I.

Not even a good bag but an insanely great bag that will be sturdy and is the standard carry on measurements. Taking a gander at your airline’s carry on requirements will fill you in on the dimensions. For the most part, a 22 inch bag will do.  I prefer the soft tops rather than the hard tops, but that’s just me. Wheels on the bottom are a must.

Also, I’m as frugal as the next gal but this is NOT where you want to save money in your travel budget. Don’t go over board on the price but don’t go so cheap that the bag falls apart on the way home either. Sonia has some great tips on what to look for.

2.) Pre-plan by outfit.

This one is also Sonia’s and it works! I did this for a recent cruise.  I planned my day and night outfits for my trip concentrating on two things: 1) pieces that could be interchangeable with other outfits 2.) dresses.

The most awesomest (yes, that’s a word) thing about packing dresses is how little space that take up. They take up next to nothing in space and some can be used as a long shirt. The dress and jeans combo is awesome and really, it’s your vacation. Shouldn’t you be as comfortable as you can be?

3.) Zip lock bags are your friends

The dollar store is my best friend during packing. I purchase several sizes of zip lock bags. It makes it easy to compartmentalize some of your things like, say, underwear. (I like to stick socks in my shoes) In addition, I use these plastic marvels for those dreaded TSA liquid checks. Yes, there are nice clear sleeves to purchase but I like my ziplocks because it’s the perfect size to fit in the front pocket of my carry on, which makes it easier to take out for a check.

Ladies, if you use hair oil, I find that wrapping it in a small ziplock and THEN putting it in with your other liquids helps. It doesn’t matter how tight you close that lid or what you put over the opening to get that oil to stay, there will be some leakage. The ziplock helps keep things contained.

Also, the gallon bags are GREAT to stick in some dirty underthings and socks. And I keep my chargers in them as well. At least until I can get my hands on something else I like better.

4.)  Pack for different scenarios

This one I learned the hard way. If you have more than one destination on a trip, try to pack for how you think the bag will look for each destination. For example, if you’re going to wear jeans and tennis shoes on the plane but your destination to a cruise the day after you land, then that bulky pair of jeans and tennis shoes may not fit right in your carry on.  Make sure that for each leg, you know how your carry will house everything you need.

By the way, don’t forget to anticipate what you’ll bring back (souvenirs, books, etc.)  too.

5.) It’s a carry on AND a purse that’s allowed.

I am a fan of NOT putting your iPad in your carry on. That’s what purses are for. I personally don’t carry one of those small, girlie purses when I travel but a tote bag. That’s where I put some of the stuff that I’m really excited about like money, passport, cell phone, camera, reading material, etc.

Though I don’t like anticipating that I’ll need the space in my tote for anything more, I use it anyway. Remember those souvenirs I told you about? What if you had a mug or something that’s easily breakable? What if you didn’t have room for that awesome present you’re hauling back for <insert friend’s name here>. That’s where you carry it. It’s also where my water bottle goes and my laptop if I bring it. Just make sure that the tote bag fits under the seat in front of you.

So, what tips do you have? Let me know in the comments below. I’m always looking for new ones!

Need more tips? Here’s another video that I’m loving lately.

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8 thoughts on “How to pack as light as possible

  1. I’m pretty good at packing into a carry-on myself. Unless the trip is longer than a week. I do 2 things mildly differently though:
    1. Despite the signs, you don’t actually have to take your toiletries out anymore. They still need to be 3oz or smaller, but I haven’t taken my toiletry bag out of my suitcase in probably 2 years and never have had a problem. I don’t even put them in a special bag anymore. Its all mixed with the rest of my stuff! So that can help reduce what you pack even more.
    2. I like using a backpack for my “purse.” Tote bags are better than purses, but if you get a good backpack with multiple pockets, you can carry a lot more and you can zip it up for extra security. I tend to fit my laptop, a sweater or jacket, all of my chargers, any valuables I have, and any food items or fragile items I’m bringing with me. Sometimes I add a purse in there too if I know I’ll need it right away once I land. I’ve been pretty stuffed before but no matter how stuffed it is, it’ll still fit under a seat.

    1. Great tips!

      Wait…so they don’t tell you to take out your liquids anymore? Man! What airports? Houston and Miami still ask you. That was in May. Maybe they’re the last ones?

      And I LOVE the backpack idea. If I’m taking my laptop, I tend to use my backpack but I’m using my iPad more and more for travel. How do you store all your chargers and things?

      1. My main airport is Atlanta but I’ve been to JFK, San Fran, Chicago, Orlando, and Cleveland in the past year or so. (probably some others too) and it has never been a problem for me.
        For chargers, if I have space in my carry-on and I know I won’t need it, I put them there. If I don’t have room, they can usually find some crevice in my backpack. I use those twist ties to hold the cords together so they don’t tangle. And I usually bring a portable charger (won from a Covert Affairs contest. LOL) with me in my backpack in case I need it during the flight or while my carry-on is in a trunk or something.

  2. Putting your socks in your shoes? What a great idea!

    I always pack at least one pair of yoga pants because they take up less space than jeans and can play so many roles. Need an extra pair of PJs? Yoga pants. Want something to wear between the hotel room and the pool? Yoga pants. Workout time? Yoga pants. I want to look like I just came back from a workout, even though I was sitting on my butt drinking lemonade? Yoga pants.

    1. Bless the person who made yoga pants. Want to see television in your hotel room? Yoga pants. Need to walk up Broadway in SoHo to the Duane Reade? Yoga pants. Need to run across the airport? Yoga pants.

      I need to write a post on just the travel versatility of yoga pants!

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