5 Tips for Traveling with only a Carry-On

With the exception of only a few airlines, it now costs you to check luggage when flying. These costs quickly add up, especially with multiple people traveling. You might have score a great deal on your tickets, but checking bags could see that saving diminish quickly. Many people are instead opting to travel with just a carry-on bag to bypass added fees. It might seem like a great idea but first be sure to take into consideration;

Is the cost savings worth the potential hassle of having extra baggage in hand?

If you’re traveling with young children, or know that your bag is heavy or difficult to handle then it is probably worth paying the extra not to deal with the hassle. Conversely if you have tight connections and are concerned about your suitcase making it to your final destination, having a carry on only could help eliminate stress.

Carryon Bag

Can I do it?

If you’re traveling with just a carry-on you will be limited to a standard size as well as the items that can board the plane with you. Full size liquid products are not allowed, and even if you opt for smaller items, they still must all fit in a 1 quart bag.

If you’ve determined that you’re going to go ahead with just a carry-on bag take advantage of these tips to make packing easier.

1. Start with a 1 quart bag and place all of your liquids into the bag. There is nothing worse than having to sort through your bag to find all the liquids while standing in the security line. Set this bag aside and put it in at the very end, near the top of your bag where you can easily grab it and send it through security.

2. Pack 1 pair of shoes and wear one. You should wear the bulkiest shoes on your travel day. Some people may advocate just wearing one but you’ll want an option to change into in case your feet are sore or uncomfortable.

3. Coordinate your clothing. This is the most important tip when you have limited space. Each of your outfits should coordinate and each piece should have at least 1-2 other options that match. Sticking to a single color palette like black or blue makes this even easier. By doing this you can maximize the space you do have by creating several outfits with just a few pieces. Make sure that your shoes also match your outfits. Don’t pack a suit if all you’ve got for shoes are tennis shoes!

4. Avoid too many accessories. Really how many do you need? A different pair of earrings, necklace, bracelet etc for each outfit is excessive and takes up too much space. Stick with a few classic pieces instead. Scarves are also a great multi-purpose item. They can dress up an outfit, keep your warm at night, and serve as a shawl.

5. Think about what you will have at your destination. For example if you’ll be staying in a hotel, it will most likely have a hair dryer so there’s no need to waste the space packing one. Soap and toiletries are also likely to be provided. Sure they’re not the same as you have at home and probably not your preferred brands but when space matters, every little bit helps.

Traveling with only a carry-on really forces you to be creative and innovative however if it means an extra dinner out or souvenir instead of baggage fees it just might be worth it!


  1. great tips, I myself have never ever been on a plane, but if I do decide someday to travel somewhere this sure will come in handy

  2. Great tips! I keep a small quart bag with small travel sizes in it all the time. And small sized of makeup too. I never bring a hair dryer either!
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  3. Hi there! This is a good post. Another thing I do is check if there will be washer/dryer facilities where I"m going. This enables me to pack even less even though I usually travel with my kids. Also, it means that I don't come home from vacation with mega-loads of laundry! 🙂 Julie
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  4. These are some awesome tips! I'll definitely keep them in mind when I travel next time. I remember one time this airline lady tried to take my carry on away because it was 0.5 inches too tall. Thanks for the tips!

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