How To Pack Your Carry-On So You Don’t Need To Check Luggage

When you think about your favorite parts of traveling, you probably don’t visualize yourself paying for checked luggage or waiting at the baggage claim. 

Those parts of traveling can be avoided when you pack everything in your carry-on. You can travel with the assurance that you’ll always have everything you need and you won’t have to worry about your luggage getting lost. Plus, having everything in one bag gives you the freedom to explore your destination without being bogged down by excessive luggage. 

If you follow these tips, you’ll discover that packing everything in a carry-on bag is possible even if you’re a notorious overpacker. 


Making a checklist of what to pack is key to start preparing for your trip. Having a checklist can keep you from forgetting to pack important items or overpacking due to lack of organization.

Start by listing out the items you absolutely need. Break your list up into categories like clothes, beauty, and toiletries so you don’t forget anything. When packing things like toothpaste, shampoo, or mouthwash, be sure to follow TSA’s guidelines for packing liquids in your carry-on. You can bring one quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, or pastes in your carry-on, but those items must be in travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces – 100 milliliters – or less each.

If you have an itinerary or idea of what you’ll be doing every day, keep that in mind when you form your checklist.


Doing some research can help you pack efficiently. Like a checklist, this step can put your mind at ease about what you decide to pack. 

Don’t assume what the weather will be like at your destination. Check the forecast so you can pack what you need based on the weather. If you need a jacket, consider wearing it on the plane to free up space in your carry-on. 

Find out what amenities your lodging has. Knowing if there’s a washer and dryer where you’re staying — or one nearby — can make you less tempted to bring so many outfits. Most places provide shampoo, conditioner, a hairdryer, and even beach towels, but check online or with your host to be sure. Skip packing those items to free up valuable space. 


When you pack neutral toned clothes, outfits can easily be mixed and matched. You can make more outfits with less clothing items, which helps you pack light. Packing with a color scheme in mind will make picking out your outfits easier and ensure you don’t pack something bold you won’t end up wearing. 

You can still pack items with patterns and prints that fit your theme, but stick to only packing what you know you feel comfortable wearing. If you never wear it at home, you won’t wear it on vacation.


Instead of folding your clothes, tightly roll them to save space. Rolling your clothes compresses them, which makes them easy to pack. Rolling your clothes also prevents wrinkles. On the day of your flight, wear items that take up the most space so you can save room in your carry-on. Yes, wearing jeans on a plane is a sacrifice you may have to make if you’re serious about being a savvy packer. 

When you unpack, you’ll feel like Mary Poppins with how much you can pull out of your carry-on bag! 


You want to pack as efficiently as possible when your goal is to not check luggage. By using packing cubes, you can organize, compress, and compartmentalize your items. Packing cubes also function with multiple purposes. They can provide extra protection for liquids in case of a leak and you can find what you need without having to take every item out one by one. A packing cube can also double as a dirty clothes bag or shoe bag. 

Packing cubes even make packing a bit more fun it’s like a game of Tetris! For winter trips where packing bulky layers is a must, consider getting compression bags. 


Use all the free space you can when you pack your carry-on. Those clunky items like shoes can be a hassle to pack, but they can be filled with socks, jewelry, chargers, or other small items you have to pack somewhere. 


To avoid overpacking, stick to your checklist and review your vacation plans. Put together outfits for what activities you’ll be doing rather than randomly selecting individual pieces of clothing. Take things you can wear more than once. 

It’s especially important to not pack too many bulky, unnecessary items. Shoes take up a lot of space so they should be comfortable and functional think sandals for the beach or boots for a hiking trip. Wear your bulkiest shoes to the airport to free up space in your carry-on. 

If you’re traveling with someone, coordinate. There’s no need for you to both bring travel-sized toothpaste and face wash. If you tend to pack things “just in case,” remember that you can buy whatever you could end up needing when you’re at your destination. 

 Having space left in your carry-on is a good thing since you’re likely to come back with souvenirs. 


Review your packing when you get home to see if there were any clothes you didn’t wear. This can help you level up your packing skills over time by helping you to pack more efficiently for your next trip. 

When you’re ready to book a trip, fly with South Bend International Airport. We offer nonstop flights to twelve destinations with connections worldwide while focusing on keeping you safe. To book your next trip with us, check out the airlines who fly with us.

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