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Carry on suitcase packing tips

Carry-On Suitcase Packing Tips

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When my kids were little, I packed as much as I could into a large suitcase that was checked. I would push the stroller while my husband pulled our massive suitcase. With only two sets of hands, that was our easiest way to travel. Now that we no longer need a stroller, our new sense of freedom is carry-on luggage only. There is nothing better than skipping the baggage claim and never having to worry about lost luggage. Here are my carry-on suitcase packing tips:

Wear your bulkiest items on the plane

If you need tennis shoes or a heavy jacket for your destination, wear it on the plane. Jeans can also take up a lot of room in a suitcase. Wear the bigger items while you are getting to your destination and you will save a lot of room in your suitcase.

Packing cubes and compression bags

I use packing cubes to organize my items. Rolling clothes instead of folding clothes also saves space. I also use compression bags, but not for initial packing. Use compression bags for dirty clothes. Not only do compression bags keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes, by compressing your clothes during your trip, it makes room for more travel souvenirs. Get more tips and read about which cubes I prefer in my other article, Travel Packing Tips.

Tote or backpack

In addition to our carry-on luggage, each person in my family carries a backpack or a tote that fits under the seat on the airplane. Backpacks and totes can hold entertainment items, snacks, toiletries as well as anything else that does not fit in to the carry-on suitcase.

Stock up at your destination

Utilize delivery services or go to a grocery store at your destination. I knew that a travel size sunscreen was not going to be enough for our week long vacation to the beach. I was able to purchase a large sunscreen plus snacks and water when we arrived.

Grocery delivery services can also deliver diapers or other baby needs that can take up space in your luggage. Look for a local service near your destination for low order minimums and reduced fees.


Only take what you need. How many times have you heard that? As much as I think I will need five scarfs for our European vacation, I know I will most likely throw on the same one. I try to minimize how many pairs of shoes I bring as well. Sandals can be worn to tour during the day and dressed up at night.

Also, if your hotel has self-service laundry, use it! I am an early riser, so while everyone is sleeping, I throw a load in and then set a timer to come back. If I do laundry, I can pack for five days but be gone ten.

Use these carry-on suitcase packing tips to pack light for your next vacation and enjoy the freedom!

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Tricia lives in Phoenix with her husband, 14 year-old daughter and 12 year-old son. She is a special education teacher for elementary students. Her family’s favorite memories…

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