7 tips for packing a carry-on

carry-on packing tips

I never check luggage if I can help it. A few too many flight delays, missed connections and resulting lost suitcases helped cure my chronic tendency to overpack. It’s also so much nicer to be able to hit the ground running as soon as I land. All it takes is a little planning ahead and a few tricks to fit everything I need in a carry-on. Without further ado, 7 tips for how to pack a carry-on for your next trip!

1. Plan your outfits ahead

Choose pieces around a color palette that fits the destination so you can mix, match and repeat. When in doubt, I pack black and denim. Skinny jeans can be re-worn a few times, a little black dress can be dressed up and down, a maxi dress can double as a beach cover-up. Always wear a jacket just in case, but also for the freezing airplane – a trench coat or denim jacket can go over just about anything.

2. Limit shoes

You really only need three pairs of shoes, max. Pack one pair of flats or sandals and one pair of heels that go with the decided color scheme. Don’t bring new shoes that could be uncomfortable – sounds obvious but it can be so tempting. Wear a pair of sneakers on the plane, that’s it!

3. Only bring the top shelf

Pare down your beauty routine to just the essentials. I keep travel-size versions of my top-shelf products like this moisturizer, a couple of face masks for post-flight, my beloved Bioderma and dry shampoo. Palettes like this blush and highlighter or a small eyeshadow palette help limit the number of pieces to pack. Check Sephora’s travel size section for your favorites in sizes under the 100 ml limit. Bigger items like sunscreen can always be purchased at your destination.


4. Make the most of your suitcase space

Packing is like putting together a puzzle: start with the big pieces and the border. Put heavy items like shoes and toiletries at the bottom of the suitcase so it’s easier to roll. From there, use up every nook and cranny: roll lingerie into a clutch, stuff socks into shoes and swimsuits into a hat. Little pouches are essential for staying organized, too – I use one for chargers and electronics, one (spill-proof) for toiletries and one for makeup.

5. Keep jewelry in a case

Avoid misplacing an earring or damaging a necklace by storing jewelry in its own travel case. Bring a few statement pieces to change up the look of a little black dress or white tee.

6. Choose your one personal item wisely

Use a larger handbag as your allotted personal item to stow essentials like a book, a pen for customs, in-flight skincare and a smaller purse to use while you’re away. I like to keep a phone charger handy, especially now that I use the Away carry-on and can charge my phone from that.


7. Have a back-up plan

Paravel’s Stowaway collapses to take up hardly any room so it can slip in your carry-on if you’ll need more room on just one leg of the journey – say you’re bringing a gift there or wind up getting a few too many souvenirs. It’s pretty roomy so if you need it, pack your handbag inside and make this your personal item.