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Pack it all in Your Carry-On

By Dillon Wallace

As exciting as it is to go on vacation, there are certain hiccups that we all like to put off … (ahem, cough) packing (cough).

It’s not necessarily the act of packing, right?
But moreso the uncertainty of not knowing whether you’ll be able to fit everything you need (read: want) to bring with you. So, if you’re like the rest of the traveling world, maybe you could use a few tips for how to pack it all in your carry-on. Like that extra pair of underwear … because you just never know!


Get your Xs and Os organized

I know prepping isn’t something that last-minute packers like to hear, but if you want to pack like a pro, it’s good to have a gameplan. Here’s a good rule of thumb for a week long trip:


Girls – Six tops, three bottoms, a couple bras, two-three workout outfits, nine pairs of underwear and socks, pajamas and at least one dress (in case you get fancy). Shoes: at least two pairs (three max) – some combination of sneakers, heels and flats. Depending on locale, you can sub out sandals for flats.


Guys – Nearly the same formula applies, just sub out the dress and make sure that at least one or two of your six tops are nice button ups. Shoes: sneakers, chukkas (something somewhat formal) and maybe a pair of sandals depending on locale.


Pro tip: Always pack a swimsuit, just in case. It’s a simple philosophy. It’s better to have one and not need it, than to need it and not have one.


Making a list, checking it twice

It’s not hard to see why making a list is a smart move when packing a bag. You don’t want to make the rookie mistake by leaving out a key component to your trip. Plus, it just gives you a cathartic peace of mind checking off items as you go. And when you’re done with your list, keep it in your bag for future reference, so you’re not recreating the planning wheel for your next trip. You’ll thank yourself later, trust me.


Pack the polyester

You know from traveling that your clothes aren’t going to be pristine when you arrive at your destination. That’s why packing clothing made of fabrics less prone to rumple and wrinkle is a safer bet. That includes, stretch denim, polyester blends, ponte (for women) and the like. You don’t want to look like you just walked out of a thunderstorm on vacation.


Pro tip: If you’re bringing collared shirts, then a word of advice is to pack a hair straightener, especially if your accommodation doesn’t have an iron. It’s relatively small and a perfect way to press collars and sleeves.


Roll don’t fold

You may pack your home dresser drawers with your clothes folded like they’re being displayed at Banana Republic, but rolling your clothes in your bag can help you not only conserve space but decrease wrinkle potential. Don’t believe it. Try it.


Bag your shoes

Before you just throw your shoes into you bag all willy-nilly, consider cleaning them, or at the very least, putting them in a baggie. The last thing you want to do when you unpack is realize that your grubby shoes have stained your entire wardrobe for the week. And while you’re at it, make sure to include a plastic bag or laundry bag to stick your dirty clothes into for the trip back home.


Think outside the bag

It’s important to remember while packing that you don’t have to fit everything “in” your bag. Use the outside of your personal carry-on item bag to attach any items you couldn’t fit inside: For example, hang a pair sneakers by their laces from your bag, clip a ball cap or an empty water bottle to a strap with a carabiner – even a neck pillow can clip to the outside of your bag. You’d be surprised what you can get away with by packing the outside of our bag.


Choose your luggage carefully

Wheeled suitcases make porting your luggage around most places much easier. But, consider what the theme of your trip is. If you’re going on a hiking expedition or areas that are relatively remote with rougher terrain, then a larger backpack/duffle bag will probably do you more favors than a roller.


And when it comes to international versus domestic, know that not all sizes are created equal. For international flights, bags need to be no more than approx. 22” tall. Domestic flights can be a little bigger around 23”.


What’s the case: hard or soft?

If you’re planning on carrying your bag on the plane, then a soft case should be just fine. After all, you’ll be in constant supervision of your belongings. However, if you’re planning to check your luggage, think about getting a hard case. You never know who is handling or how your bag will be handled. A hard case will give it a little extra toughness on the journey.


Personal bag for the win

Almost more important than your actual luggage, is your personal carry-on. Why? Because it can help you conserve space and be the bag for easier access to certain grab-and-go items like headphones, computers, tablets, toiletries, books, water and more. Aim for a bag that’s around 9”x10”x17” or smaller and you should easily meet all airline requirements.


So the next time you’re primed for the jet-set lifestyle, takes some tips from this list. It’ll make your packing easier than ever. And if you’re looking for the perfect getaway in 2020, check out some of the most desirable vacation spots for the new decade right here.

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