Pack Light: How to Keep it to One Carry-On

Pack Light: How to Keep it to One Carry-On

Welcome, savvy traveler! You know the feeling of traveling with just one carry-on bag? It’s pretty liberating. Packing efficiently and smartly can transform your travel experience, save you money, and open up a world of convenience (and less time in the airport). Here’s how to reach that elusive single-carry-on utopia.

Planning is Key

This seems obvious, but before you start tossing items into your luggage, take a moment to plan. As in, really, truly plan. Research your destination's weather, cultural norms, any specific events or activities you'll be indulging in, etc. This knowledge will serve as your compass in determining what essentials to pack and what can stay behind—and you’re going to be leaving plenty of things behind. Because you only have one bag!

The Right Bag Makes All the Difference

If you’re serious about joining the simple world of one-bag travel, you’ll need to invest in a versatile, airline-approved carry-on bag. Opt for one that maximizes space and has various compartments to keep things organized.

Remember, size restrictions can vary among airlines, so double-check their guidelines before you start packing. Yes, there is a standard size (22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches high, including handles and wheels), but you still may want to double-check, especially if a connecting flight is on a different airline. The last thing you want to do is show up with a bag that won’t fit in the overhead compartment and waste your time trying to cram it in while everyone stares at you. Even worse, someone may shake their head while making eye contact with you.

Go with Versatile Wardrobe Essentials

Build your wardrobe around versatile pieces that can mix and match each other effortlessly. Neutral colors and basic clothing items are your best friends here. Think items like a classic white t shirt, a pair of jeans, super comfortable socks, and a versatile jacket that can transition from day to night.

Oh, and the shoes. Space is at a premium in your bag, so if you can manage only to bring the shoes on your feet for your trip, you’ll save a ton of space. Allbirds Tree Runners, Wool Pipers, and Couriers are all excellent candidates for a versatile, everyday shoe you can wear from the terminal to the hotel and anywhere else in between.

It’s All in the Technique

Here’s another solid tip: Roll, don't fold! Rolling your clothes not only saves space but also minimizes wrinkles. Consider utilizing packing cubes or compression bags to keep your belongings compact and organized. Bonus tip: If you have to pack an extra pair of shoes, stuff socks or other small items into your shoes to make use of every inch of space.

Leave the Non-Essentials Behind

Now for the hard part. Ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" Be ruthless when it comes to non-essential items. Toiletries can be minimized by opting for travel-sized containers or choosing accommodations that provide these amenities. Leave bulky items like hairdryers at home if your accommodation offers them. And you can always buy toiletries and such at your destination—you’ll still be saving on baggage fees in the long run.

Minimize Your Tech

Consolidate all of your precious gadgets and try to go with whatever you can fit in your pockets (a jacket can help with this bold endeavor of self-denial). A smartphone can double as your camera, e-reader, and entertainment hub. Download e-books, movies, or shows in advance to save space and ensure some quality entertainment during your flight. You’ll also save money by not purchasing the temporary Wi-Fi pass many airlines still insist on charging for.

Strategically Layer for Comfort

Layering is your secret weapon. Wear your bulkiest items, like jackets or sweaters, during transit to free up space in your luggage. Plus, planes can get pretty chilly, so having layers at hand ensures comfort during the flight making our apparel perfect for layering.

Make an Essentials Kit

Keep important documents like passports, tickets, and IDs secure and easily accessible in a travel organizer. You can also put together an essentials kit containing travel-sized toiletries, medications, a portable charger, and maybe a travel adapter. Having these essentials in a small pouch ensures you're ready for any situation.

Embrace the Art of Packing Light

Packing light and going with a single carry-on is not about roughing it. Allow us to get a little philosophical for a moment—the joy of travel often lies in the experiences, not the possessions. Embrace the freedom of packing light, and relish in the convenience of breezing through airports without lugging around heavy baggage. Plus, with fewer items to worry about, you'll minimize the chances of lost luggage or extra baggage fees. And you can walk down the open escalator without clanging your bag down every step.

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