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 How to Pack a Carry-On Suitcase (Quick & Easy) 

Traveling carry-on only offers many advantages over checking-in your luggage. Less time at the airport on both ends of your trip and no risk of arriving empty handed at your destination due to lost luggage. However, packing carry-on only is a skill that may require some trial and error. Here is our quick and easy packing guide so you become a carry-on only packer pro in no time!

Step 1: Choose Your Carry-on Bag 

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The first step to picking a carry-on suitcase is to ask some questions. Where are you going? How many days are you packing for? Approved carry-on bag sizes vary by airline and whether the flight is domestic or international. The Carry-On Closet comes in both Medium and Large, so you can pick the perfect size and stay organized all while packing light. Or, if you prefer a backpack-style carry-on, the Lifepack Endeavor also has the closet feature and fits in the overhead compartment and under the seat in front of you.

Step 2: Lay Out All Your Items 

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Before placing items in the suitcase, lay out everything needed to avoid packing duplicate or unnecessary items. This also allows you to visualize everything you have and think through how you want to optimize your packing strategy. You can also create multiple piles, such as a “must have,” “would like to have,” and “not really necessary but still want.” Use a checklist and tailor it to your specific travel location and needs. 

Step 3: Compartmentalize & Organize Your Carry-On 

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Once you know what you're bringing, you can utilize the closet feature of the Carry-On Closet to keep outfits or like pieces together. Packing cubes are another lightweight tool to keep smaller items contained and from roaming all about the bag.

Step 4: Pack Your Bag 

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One great strategy is placing the bulkiest items, heaviest things, and packing cubes first. Then, add the smaller items in the extra space, so the contents don’t shift around. If liquids or electronics need to be removed from the bag during airport security, pack those near the top or in an outside pocket for easy access. It’s also wise to pack items needed while traveling in an accessible place to avoid digging through your suitcase on the airport floor or on a flight. 

Step 5: Best Practices

Pick an appropriately sized suitcase that will work with how you travel.

  • Rolling bag or backpack style?

Give yourself plenty of time.

  • Packing can be fast, but it may take longer than you think! And it gives you time to think through if you missed anything.

Use a checklist.

  • Don’t forget to tailor your checklist to the location.

Don’t overpack.

  • You may want a pair of shoes for every situation, but you might be ok with just one and can save some of that space for a souvenir.

    Long story short…

    It may take packing for a few trips before you can effortlessly pack a carry-on suitcase, but with enough practice and travel, you’ll soon be a pro!

    Written by Andrea Jeschke