In these trying times of checked luggage fees and frequently lost or mishandled baggage, sticking to carry on is the way to go when you fly. But what if you're traveling for anything longer than a long weekend- how on earth are you supposed to get all your clothes, toiletries, and electronics to fit in one small bag that needs to be stowed overhead? Believe it or not, there is an art to packing your carry on. If you do it right, you can actually get your entire trip's necessities to fit just right.
Always Plan Ahead
The biggest packing dilemma tends to be around shoes and clothes. How are you supposed to pack enough clothes and the right shoes to last an extended period of time? The trick is to plan ahead. While you're packing, lay out all the outfits you plan to wear for your trip, shoes included. The trick is to have 4 or 5 pieces that you can mix and match as needed, and nothing should go into your suitcase unless you know exactly what outfit/s it will be worn with- no stray items of clothing allowed. It's helpful to go somewhat color coordinated with your wardrobe, so that everything works together- think creams, navys, blacks, and grays, for instance.
Get Strict on Footwear
When it comes to your shoes, it's time to get tough with yourself. You should have a pair of day shoes that can work with pretty much all your outfits, a pair of shoes for working out- thankfully the current trend is compact and lightweight-, and that one shoe that only works with one or 2 of your looks but is too crucial to the outfit not to pack - I'm looking at you, metallic ombre heels from the last destination wedding I attended. The place to play it up is with your accessories- scarves, bandanas, and ties are all little enough that bringing a few won't take up too much space, and they can totally change your look.
Now is the time to truly embrace multifunctionality. The throw you're bringing on the plane to stay warm should also be nice enough to double as a scarf or layer when you're on the ground. If you're bringing an ipad or tablet, can it do double duty for the occasional work email in lieu of your computer, or vice versa? And speaking of tablets, forget grabbing a book at the airport. Plan ahead and download it on to your ipad, kindle, etc., for extra packing space. The trick is to survey everything you think you need to pack before it goes into your suitcase, and see if there's a way to combine and conquer.
Think Teeny Tiny
The one thing you don't want to do is not pack your favorite personal care products in order to save space- traveling is stressful enough without not having the products you rely on. Thankfully most modern haircare and skincare brands make their products in travel size options at this point- Alder New York's entire Everyday Skincare System, masks, and Texture Powder all come in travel friendly TSA approved sizes, which means I have a dopp kit ready to go full of all my staples. If you have a fave that doesn't have a travel option, get some cute little empty bottles -Muji makes my favorites- and fill them up with the products you can't do without.
It's How not What
The last trick is to be strategic in how you put your items in your suitcase to truly maximize space. Socks and chargers can and should go in to your empty shoes that otherwise take up dead space. Try rolling rather than folding bulkier items, if not all your clothes- it actually seriously reduces wrinkles and tends to free up a lot more room. As an added, clever tip, if you have a soft travel bag- which tend to allow for more packing to the brim- it's likely not waterproof. So plan to use any water resistant items you're taking- like rain jackets, ponchos, or anything wrapped in plastic- and use them as the first and last items you pack to line your suitcase for instant water resistance.