top of page

34 Essential Carry-On Packing Tips to Improve the Way You Pack

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

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 these essential carry-on packing tips and hacks, you will learn the secrets of fitting more stuff than you could believe inside your suitcase and packing airport-friendly beauty products.

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

In 12 years of traveling, I learned 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 to pack. It might take only 15 minutes for some people, while it might be better to start packing a few days before for others. It only depends on how prepared you are.

But don't worry; after reading my super organized packing tips & hacks guide and downloading all my super clever packing checklists for FREE, 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 it is essential to plan the perfect holiday, bringing everything you will need during your travel without risking packing all your wardrobe is essential.

Always follow your checklist and update it with items you might need on each travel.

Travel Tip: As soon as you book your next adventure, buy good travel insurance in case you need to “unfortunately” delay, extend, or cancel your trip. I recommend VisitorsCoverage for short trips up to 1 month and SafetyWing for longer trips.

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


If you like this article, feel free to leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Maybe someone you know needs some help with packing.

travel suitcase shop to chose the right travel bag

1. 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.

I never travel without my backpack because I love to have all the essentials with me while on a plane a carry-on suitcase, which is perfect if you will use transport to reach your accommodation.

Travel Tip: Remember 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

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

It depends on your airline policy, but most airlines allow you to have with you 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 your 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 opening 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

3. 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 backpack; therefore, you have more space where to 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 traveling on a plane.

carry on suitcase ready with packing travel tips checklist

4. 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.

packing cubes

5. 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

6. 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. The one I use is small to carry (so you can carry it inside your carry-on luggage) and very cheap. A Mini Travel Steamer is a perfect option if you have some spare room in your luggage (I honestly prefer to pack fewer clothes but have my steamer with me and don't have wrinkled clothes).

beauty bag full of beauty products to travel

7. 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

8. Buy a refillable fragrance atomizer:

If you don't have a tiny bottle to keep your fragrance, I highly recommend buying a refillable 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 daily, not only when traveling. I had mine for almost 9 years, and it is still working.

travel beauty bag, white and black foldable

9. 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, natural solid 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 when I return from a trip.

reusable travel liquids cosmetics bottle

10. Purchase some Travel Bottles for Toiletries Tsa Approved:

Travel Bottles for Toiletries Tsa Approved are a wonderful way to take all those liquids you cannot imagine traveling without.

Inside these little containers ( 3.4 fl oz/ 100 ml), you can add all the liquids we cannot turn into solids, like face tonic, liquid medicine, skin oils, etc.

airplane liquids bag

11. 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).

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

Packing Tips: Place your liquids inside your beauty bag after passing the airport security check. 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 see 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 travelers.

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

12. 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 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 traveling toward your holiday destination. I advise always to have all these items packed so that 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

13. Pack a colorful 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 colorful pashmina in Marrakesh, and since then, I have never traveled without it.

bamboo pocket tissue

14. Pack some paper tissue:

I always carry 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; they are light to transport.

waterproof slide lock bags to keep liquids

15. 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.

They will keep the food closed inside so you won't have any liquids or crumbs in your bag.

Don't forget you can wash these bags and reuse them for all your travels.

You can easily use the freezer ones, but if you plan to add something bigger inside, like your wet swimsuit, I highly recommend purchasing something bigger and stronger, like the Lermende Clear Toiletry Bag.

dirty hiking shoes brown

16. Pack a couple of biodegradable bags:

You may need some bags to keep your shoes inside your luggage. Even if you leave home with a new pair of shoes inside your suitcase, remember you will walk a lot in them so they will surely be dirty when the time to return home comes.

I am sure you don't want to place your dirty shoes on your clothes.

You can use biodegradable bags to keep inside your dirty laundry or some souvenirs. And because they are bin bags, you can always use them for the rubbish bin when you return home.

underwear white and blue on white duvet

17. Reduce the number of your underwear to save room:

Don't worry, I don't mean you have to wear the same underwear for more than one day, you have to wash them in the evening.

I always bring with me only 3 pairs of underwear (for the bottom only tongues because they take very little space), and every day before having a shower, I wash them as soon as I remove them, and I leave them on the radiator so the following day they are dry.

black underwear on white table

About bras (if you are a lady), I bring clothes where I can wear the same bra and take only two options, like one strapless bra and one standard. Unless you go to a very hot place where you will sweat every day, you don't need to wash your bra every evening.

Travel Tip: Wash your bra and underwear before showering as soon as you return to your accommodation. In this way, they will surely be dry the next morning, ready to be worn.
me in Madeira porto moniz natural swimming pool
Me in Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pool Madeira

18. Plan to wear some clothes more than once:

If you travel for two weeks, do you need a new outfit every day? If you need it, well, a carry-on suitcase won't be enough for you, but if you can re-wear your clothes more than once as I do, trust me, you will save a lot of room.

Travel Tip: If you travel to a summer destination, you can always wash your clothes in your accommodation room sink. Just use the hand soap; it will work amazingly, and your clothes will dry in a few hours.

moroccan tour
Me and my friend Pamela during our Moroccan Tour

19. Pack clothes that can match one another:

Packing bottom clothes with more tops is the best way to look different every day. Usually, I pack only 2 bottoms and some tops that can go well with both.

Travel Tip: if you are traveling with a friend that wears your same clothes size, a good idea is to swap some clothes.
white, cream, sand shoes for ladies

20. Reduce the number of shoes:

I love shoes, like every woman, but if I want to travel light and save some money on check-in bags, I have to bring with me only the necessary.

My advice is to wear the biggest and heavier shoes when going to your destination to save room in your luggage.

Bring a very comfortable pair of shoes to wear all day while exploring and another pair of shoes (more elegant if you prefer) to go out for dinner (or to dance).

Travel Tip: make sure to wear your shoes a couple of times at home to feel comfortable in them. It could ruin your holiday if your shoes would give you blisters.

girls trying sand colour shoes inside a wardrobe

How many pairs of shoes should I take on holiday?

If you leave from a hot place to another hot place: wear your daily sandals on the plane and carry a pair of socks inside your handbag in case you feel cold on the plane.

You should only pack one pair of beach shoes, like a flip flop for the beach, and one pair of sandals for the day when you explore (they won't take so much room cause they are flat and you can put them at the bottom of the suitcase).

If you want to wear high heels in the evening, choose something light that doesn't take so much room in your suitcase.

If you leave a cold place to go to a warm one: wear sneakers so you can feel comfortable, and they won't take up space in your luggage because you will wear them while traveling.

If traveling to a winter spot: only bring two pairs of shoes. One for the day to explore (that you are going to wear while traveling) and one more elegant for the evening.

cloths lay on a bed before start packing for a holiday

21. Lay all your clothes on your bed before packing them:

By having all your clothes in one place, you can check and decide what you need to bring with you, if something is essential or something you can leave at home (trust me, you won't need many clothes, so leave some of them in your wardrobe).

I have never regretted leaving home something, but I have often regretted bringing too much.

Especially when I first started to travel without my mom helping me pack ( I was 18, and I wanted to get the entire wardrobe with me).

girl on a camel in the sahara desert Morocco
Me on a lovely camel named Bob Marley in the Sahara

Remember that in case something happens, you can always buy some clothes when you need them.

I didn't buy my desert trousers and a scarf for the evening before traveling to Morocco because I knew I would find something very colorful on the way, and I did (and I consider them a souvenir).

luggage gray and light blue open with a book inside

22. Learn how to play Tetris:

You have to become a master of Tetris (do you know the game?). In this way, you will be able to use every inch in your travel bag to bring with you everything you cannot travel without.

packing tips rolled clothes

23. Roll your Clothes:

Rolling your clothes is the best way for you to save room. You must place them inside your packing cubes, one next to the other. In this way, you can pack more in less space.

natural remedies, herbal tea and vitamine

24. Pack all your medicine and vitamins:

Pack all your medicines without the boxes but don't forget to bring the leaflet (you never know, you might need them).

If you are like me and take some vitamin pills every morning, buy a weekly travel pills organizer. Check here pill organizers.

If you are traveling for more than one week, like for a month, I advise you to buy some little plastic bags so that you can keep them inside your luggage and the space they take will reduce daily.

travel reusable cutlery set

25. Pack some reusable cutleries:

Reusable cutleries can be very useful while traveling. You can use them to eat street food or in case you want to save money for lunch while exploring and buying some food at the supermarket (where most of the time there are no cutleries available, or you have to buy a whole pack of 50 pieces).

I recently purchased these ones, and I am pleased about them.

26. Pack all your charger cables inside a little bag:

If you pack all your chargers inside a bag, they will be all together, and they won't be in the middle of your bag while you are looking for something.

27. Don't forget your universal travel adaptor:

Don't buy one for every country you want to visit, buy one universal to use everywhere.

Universal adaptors are handy, so you won't need to ask your accommodation to lend you one. Check here for a suitable travel adaptor.

28. Pack a USB plug extender:

If you are travelling with your phone, one computer/tablet, a power bank, and a camera (I am sure you all do), a USB plug extender can save you time and ensure all your gears are always fully charged.

This is the reason why I never travel without my USB travel adaptor. To make sure to be able to charge in no time all my gears.

suitcase full of clothes, travel packing tips

29. Leave some space in your travel bag for souvenirs:

I always buy souvenirs, mostly food (what can I do? I love food) and sometimes clothes. Magnets don't count because they are tiny, but all together, they need space.

So make sure to always have a bit of extra room inside your luggage. You never know which amazing items you will find at your destination.

bag of old clothes with a teddy bear

30. Pack some old clothes or clothes you are tired about:

Packing some old clothes, you don't use anymore can be a great way to help people in need.

I did this a couple of times with my friend Pamela. Once we went to Cape Verde on Sal Island and we knew there were a lot of poor people there.

So we decided to pack summer clothes we didn't use anymore to wear for the last time during that holiday. At the end of it, we gave almost everything to charity.


31. Pack old underwear:

This is a way to make sure to have some extra room in your travel bag before going back home.

If you have any old and not-good underwear you are already thinking of throwing away, take them on your next trip, and throw them away before going home.

hair dryer with hair brushes for travelling

32. Choose accommodation with a hairdryer:

It doesn't matter if you are staying in a hostel or a hotel. Make sure there is a hairdryer available in your room.

Hairdryers are big, so why not leave yours at home and save some space in your luggage? That means more room for clothes or souvenirs.

In case you cannot imagine drying your hair with a simple hotel hairdryer because you want always to have a perfect hairstyle (I feel you), a good and professional travel hairdryer might be precisely what you need.

calendar, packing tips, pack your luggage in advance

33. Pack a few days before departure:

The best way to make sure you pack everything you need is a very good packing checklist.

This can save your holiday, and make sure you pack everything you need during your travel. You can easily download all my packing checklists and the problem is solved.

After downloading all the packing checklist you need, or all of them, start to pack a couple of days before departure. This way, you will still have time to buy whatever you are missing and avoid panicking.

packing tips, decide what to wear on the plane the day before

34. Don't wait until the morning of departure to decide what to wear on the plane:

I usually prepare my clothes the evening before, so if I have (I always have) an early flight, I have to get up, dress up, and be ready to go to the airport without struggling in front of my wardrobe trying to decide what to wear.

So here are all my tips & hacks to pack for a holiday. I hope you found them inspiring and helpful.

Did you enjoy my article?

I have plenty like this one in the Travel Tips section.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share this article with your friends. Maybe someone you know is planning a trip.

Also, don't forget to subscribe down below to my weekly newsletter at the bottom of this page to be always updated with new

Travel Destinations, Discounts, Giveaways and Travel Tips.


grand canal in venice gondola.jpg

About me

Hi! I'm Valentina,

but you can call me Vale.

I'm an Italian with a passion for well-planned travels and food.

In my Travel Guide, you will find everything you need to plan your perfect travel around the world.


valentina's travel guide (1).jpg
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
bottom of page