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  • Writer's pictureJessica Heather

How to PACK for a TRIP with Just a CARRY-ON suitcase

We are huge fans of traveling light, and one of the first things we do when we get to a new destination is scope out the airport terminal's luggage storage area. But sometimes, there just isn't enough room on the conveyor belt to fit all your clothes and toiletries into one suitcase. That's when it's time for an upgrade: packing with just a carry-on suitcase!

Here are our tips for how to do it successfully - and save some money along the way:


Choosing the right bag.


When choosing your carry-on bag for travel, you want to make sure it fits the airline's carry-on size requirements. Most airlines require that bags be smaller than 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55 x 35 x 23 centimeters).

If you're flying on an EU flight, look for a bag with detachable daypacks or one that has multiple compartments so they can be used while they're en route and at their destination.


Weigh your suitcase before you pack it.

  • Weigh your suitcase before you pack it. If you have a digital luggage weight scale use it to determine how much of your stuff should go into each compartment. Then, use the same weight scale to determine how much of that total can fit in your suitcase before you fill it with clothes.

  • Get creative! You can also measure the volume of whatever container or bag will hold all of the items that fit into their allotted space—for example, if there's space for two bottles of shampoo and conditioner but only one bottle of each brand per suitcase (and they're both full), then consider using two different-sized bottles (each with enough room inside them) instead!

Be strategic about what you pack.



  • Choose clothes that are versatile, easy to wash and dry, and can be layered so you can wear them again later.

  • If possible, pack a few items that you'll use only once or twice during the trip - like a dress, shirt and blazer for formal events or jeans for casual days.

  • Think about what kind of trips you're planning on taking: Is there a chance someone might get sick? Or do they expect hot weather? Pack plenty of lightweight layers (and bring an extra sweater, hoodie, lightweight just in case).

Invest in a small, TSA-approved toiletry case.


If you're traveling with a carry-on suitcase, it's important to pack as lightly as possible. This means investing in a small, TSA-approved toiletry case. For example:

  • Keep liquids under 100ml (3.4oz). You'll want to keep your shampoo and conditioner in there - but avoid using toothpaste tubes because they're too large of an item for carry-ons (and won't fit through security scanners).

  • Although, airport security rules on liquids could be lifted in the UK in 2024, due to hi-tech 3D scanners. New technology, which has been trialed at London Heathrow Airport since 2017, has enabled staff to zoom in on the contents contained in a bag, inspecting the images by rotation.

Wear the heaviest items on the plane.


This is a good time to bring your heavy bags and jackets, as well as anything else that would be difficult to fold up or store in a backpack. For example, if you're heading to an event where everyone will be dressed in suits, it's best not to bring along any wrinkled clothing - you'll just have more time at baggage claim trying not to look like someone who forgot his suit jacket!

If possible (and depending on where you're going), wear bulky items such as backpacks and purses that don't need access during the flight. A laptop case works nicely here; just make sure it doesn't get too heavy when fully packed with all of those extra things inside!


Pack a versatile wardrobe.


How many clothes do you need?


This is the single most important thing to remember when packing for a trip. Packing too much is as bad as not packing enough. You don't want to be stuck in an airport, unable to find anything because your bag is so full of things that don't fit together or are incompatible with each other. Try not to overburden yourself by packing too many different items that have little utility outside of their original purpose. Instead, choose a few pieces that can serve multiple purposes and use them throughout your trip, rather than having everything crammed into one suitcase just because it'll look nice on camera!


Remember the essentials.

  • Passport, ID, and travel documents

  • Medications (including prescription medications)

  • Camera and/or phone charger

  • Earplugs, eye mask, and travel pillow (if you have a hard time sleeping on planes). Snacks! Water bottle!

Packing with just a carry-on is possible and money-saving!


Packing with just a carry-on is possible, and it can save you money. Here are some reasons to try it:

  • You’ll be able to get through airport security without having to check your bags! Many airlines charge a fee for checking luggage, so if you want to avoid those fees, pack in bulk and only take what fits in your suitcases. The smaller the suitcase, the less weight it will have on its own when you travel by plane. That means less stress about whether or not you should pay extra for checking—and more time spent enjoying your trip!

  • On TikTok, the Kono holdall carry-on bag at £16.99 on Amazon, which went viral earlier on in the year, is the perfect carry-on bag that fits perfectly under the seat in front of you. This lightweight carry-on bag has allowed passengers to pack light, with its cabin-approved status by Ryan Air as well as Jet 2, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad, Delta, Emirates, Wizz Air, Norwegian, Jet2, KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, Flybe and Qatar. The Kono holdall has become a favorite amongst travel enthusiasts since going viral, as it keeps selling out. We've found you an even cheaper alternative at £6.99 from Robert Dyas so that you don't miss out.

  • You’re reducing the amount of carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels used during transportation (which is bad for our environment). When carrying heavy suitcases around airports or train stations all day long isn't an option because they're too cumbersome - or even just inconveniently located - it makes sense economically speaking as well: why not try carrying just one piece instead? It may take longer than usual but that's okay since there aren't any additional costs associated with this method either way!

Packing for a trip with just your carry-on may seem like a daunting task, but it's quite simple. The best way to tackle this is by taking two things into account: what you need and how much money you want to spend. We’ve outlined several tips that will help get your packing on track. Plus, if you have any questions about packing for the first time or would like more advice on how to ensure that all of your belongings fit inside this limited space (or both!), don't hesitate to reach out!


What do you think? Do you think any of these tips will help you pack lighter and with just a carry-on? Let us know your thoughts!


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