34 Essential Carry On Packing Tips & Hacks That Will Change the Way You Travel

learn how to pack like a pro, travel packing tips

Packing for a trip might seem simple, but knowing how to save room and pack light is an art. By reading this essential carry on packing tips and hacks, you will learn the secrets of fitting more stuff than you could believe inside your suitcase and pack airport-friendly beauty products.

So you won't need to buy new ones while travelling (and in this way save money).

In 12 years of travelling, I learnt how to pack like a pro, and how to squeeze as much stuff as I could, saving room to bring everything I needed with me, only with a carry-on suitcase (for travels of two weeks or more).

How early should you start packing for a trip?

Well, this only depends on your ability of packing. It might take only 15 minutes for some people, while for others, it might be better to start packing a few days before. It only depends on how prepared you are.

But don't worry; after reading my super organized packing tips & hacks guide and downloading for FREE all my super clever packing checklists, you will be able to pack efficiently like a pro in no time.

What is a Travel Packing Checklist?

A travel packing checklist is one of the best travel planning inventions ever! Because obviously it is very important to plan the perfect holiday, but it is also essential to bring with you everything you will need during your travel without risking packing all your wardrobe.

Make sure to always follow your checklist and also update it with items you might need on each travel.

Tips: As soon as you book your next adventure, make sure to buy good travel insurance in case you need to “unfortunately” delay, extend or cancel your trip. I recommend SafetyWing. A great insurance company to cover everything about your travel.

The Most Complete Guide on How to Pack Like a Pro

*Disclosure: This article contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, I guarantee, if you purchase through my links. See it as a way to thank me and support my travel blog for all the information I provide.

Read Essential Carry On Packing Tips & Hacks That Will Change the Way You Travel


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travel suitcase shop to chose the right travel bag

Choose the right travel bag/suitcase for your travel:

Choosing the right travel bag is essential because it depends on what kind of travel you are planning. It can be a backpack because you will need to walk a lot between destinations or a suitcase, which is perfect if you will use transport to reach your accommodation.

Tip: Keep in mind that if you have to carry all your luggage without anyone to help you, don't pack 3 large suitcases because you won't be able to bring them yourself. Always bring only what you can carry by yourself.

girls with a trolley and a backpack in an airport

Pack all your plane travel essential items inside a handbag or backpack:

It depends on your airline policy, but most of airlines allow you to have with you a carry on luggage (like a trolley) to place in the overhead bin and a smaller handbag or backpack to keep under your seat.

Pack all your flight essential in the bag you will keep under you seat, so you will be able to take out anything you need, at any time. In this way, you will avoid taking down your luggage from the overhead bin and open it up in the middle of the aisle in front of everyone (and with people having to pass through going to the toilet).

Not sure what to pack inside your handbag to travel on a plane? Have a look at my 30 Flight essentials you should bring on a plane.

traveller girl entering a plane with a hand bag as travel bag

Check if you are allowed to bring on the plane also a handbag:

Many airlines allow you to have a carry-on trolley bag and a handbag; therefore, you have more space whereto keep all the flight essentials you should always bring with you.

In this case, read my 30 Flights Essentials You Should Always Have on a Plane, where you will find all the necessary items you cannot miss having while travelling on a plane.

carry on suitcase ready with packing travel tips checklist

Always have a packing guide checklist ready for every occasion:

It can be for a weekend, one week on a beach spot, or exploring a city, etc. If you have your packing lists ready, it will be much easier for you when it is time to start to pack.

Are you looking for a good packing list? I got you covered! I wrote many packing lists for every occasion, so you will never forget anything at home.

Click here to download for free all my packing lists.

packing cubes

Buy good packing cubes:

Packing cubes are room savers. You need to buy some good ones (avoid the cheap ones you find that will last only a couple of travels, and they don't allow you to squeeze clothes properly).

These packing cubes are the best way to pack more than you hope. You can literally sit on them (as I do) to squeeze everything (clothes that don't get wrinkles like jeans, underwear, pullover etc.) and then close them.

After buying them, you won't be able to travel without them.

Click here to check the best packing cubes I am using.

woman wardrobe with summer clothes with a travel steamer

Pack a wrinkle-release spray or a travel steamer:

These two are perfect ideas in case you cannot get an iron. Wrinkled clothes are not very nice to see, especially if you have dinner in a nice restaurant or want to look impeccable.

Wrinkle-release spray will come in handy. That one I use is small to carry (88ml/3 fl oz so you can carry it inside your carry on luggage) and very cheap. A Mini Travel Steamer is a perfect option if you travel with a check-in suitcase and have more room for all your belongings.

beauty bag full of beauty products to travel

buy a travel beauty bag:

Having a travel beauty bag is very important. It doesn't have to be those big ones that take a lot of room. It can just be a small bag, possibly waterproof (just in case some liquids explode).

I highly recommend using as many solid beauty products as possible to avoid liquids that are not more than 100 ml at the airport. In this way, you will save room inside your luggage and a lot of weight.

Portable Mini Refillable Perfume Atomizer Bottle

Buy a refillable fragrance atomizer:

If you don't have a tiny bottle to keep your fragrance, I highly recommend you buy a refillable fragrance atomizer. It is a great option, and it can contain so much perfume in such a tiny space that you will have enough fragrance for more than two weeks.

A refillable fragrance atomizer is also a good way to carry your perfume in your handbag every day, not only when you travel. I had mine for almost 9 years, and it is still working.

travel beauty bag, white and black foldable

Have always your travel beauty bag ready:

I started to have always my travel beauty bag ready a couple of years ago (because I was going somewhere at least once a month), and it was a great way to save time packing and always make sure to have everything I needed with me.

I keep inside everything: toothbrush, toothpaste tablets, natural shampoo bar, natural conditioner bar and shower bars, crystal stone deodorant, little containers with my usual face and night creams, travel pills (a bit of everything I might need), vitamins and anything else I might want to take with me.

In this way, I will never forget anything because I refill it as soon as I come back from a trip.

reusable travel liquids cosmetics bottle

Purchase some Travel Bottles for Toiletries Tsa Approved:

Travel Bottles for Toiletries Tsa Approved are a wonderful way to take with you all those liquids you cannot imagine travelling without. Inside these little containers ( 3.4 fl oz/ 100 ml), you can add all the liquids we cannot turn into solid, like face tonic, liquid medicine, skin oils etc.

airplane liquids bag

Put all your liquids in an airport-friendly plastic bag and follow the 3-1-1 rule:

This is very important, keep all your liquids inside a plastic bag (the airport-friendly ones) and keep it where it is easier for you to reach it inside your handbag (most airlines allow you to carry a small suitcase and a little handbag/backpack).

In this way, when you get to the security check, it will be easier for you to take it out without opening your suitcase.

Tips: After passing the airport security check, place your liquids inside your beauty bag. In this way, you will have all your beauty products in one place.

What is the 311 rule when on a plane?

This is a very important rule to follow if you don't want to end up seeing all your cosmetics going into the bin.

The 311 rule refers to how many liquids you are allowed to bring in a carry-on bag on a plane:

  • 3: 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or smaller containers of gel or liquid (you can bring a bigger container only inside a checked bag)

  • 1: 1 stand for the quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag where to keep all your 3.4 ounces/100 ml or smaller liquids containers

  • 1: 1 stand for only 1 bag of liquids is allowed for travellers.

planning a travel with a map, backpack, hiking shoes, camera and compass

Pack all your plane travel essentials in a handbag:

I wrote an article about the 30 Flight Essentials You Should Bring on a Plane, so you just need to check it out to understand better what you need to carry with you.

It is essential to know what you need to have with you while travelling toward your holiday destination. My advice is always to have all these items packed so as soon as you have to travel, they will already be inside a bag, ready to go.

two ladies travelling Morocco, Ait Ben Haddou in the Ounila Valley
Me and my friend Pamela during our Moroccan tour near Ait Ben Haddou, in the Ounila Valley

Pack a colourful scarf:

You can carry it on a plane to protect yourself from the air conditioning or use it as a pillow. If evenings are fresh it can keep you warm or you might need it to cover your shoulders while visiting a religious building. I bought this very colourful pashmina in Marrakesh, and since then, I have never travelled without it.

bamboo pocket tissue

Pack some paper tissue:

I always have pocket tissues with me because I suffer from hay fever, and I am a bit allergic to dust and pollution (I can sneeze for 5 minutes straight), so I often need to clean my nose. You can use them in many ways, and they are light to transport.

waterproof slide lock bags to keep liquids

Pack some waterproof slide lock bags:

Waterproof slide lock bags are a great idea if you want to pack some food from the breakfast buffet to take with you during the day or, as my friend Pamela always does, to keep the shells she finds on the beach.