How to Pack Absolutely Everything in One Small Carry-on

No, we can’t help you pack your snow skis in a carry-on. Or the Garden Yeti left to you by Aunt Martha. But as far as everything else you need, we’ve got you covered (see the step-by-step packing video below).

Why Use a Carry-on Bag

Why use a carry-on? To save 50 bucks. That’s the round-trip checked-bag fee most airlines ding you for (notable exceptions: JetBlue and Southwest). On the flip-side, Allegiant and Spirit also charge for carry-ons but most airlines don’t. Traveling light is just plain smart, too. Ask FareCompare’s Rick Seaney – he hasn’t lost a bag in a decade because he always uses a carry-on.

Pack like a pro? Let Rick Seaney tell you how it’s done:

Now for some makeup tips for female flyers

4 Carry-on Packing Methods

Try one method or try combining two or more of these packing approaches.

Roll up method: Take a shirt or pair of pants or jacket and just roll it. Stand the item upright on one end and keep adding ‘rolls’ to the bag until you’re staring down at what looks like a bunch of Cinnabon pastries (just not as sticky). Roll carefully and you’ll be surprised at how unwrinkly the clothes come out.

Layering method: There are lots of good packing videos out there; we like this one from Salt Lake’s Travel Outfitters store because it’s a step-by-step how-to for a 14-day trip and loaded with good advice. See the video below.

Nesting-doll method: You know those wooden Russian dolls that nest inside each other? Think of that as you stuff socks and underwear in shoes (ditto for that extra purse) and in every other conceivable nook and cranny in your carry-on.

Human suitcase method: Scottevests are very popular or try the “baggage as fashion” approach. Yes, you can buy an ensemble that includes many pockets and zippers but the downside is, you might look a little strange. Alternative approach: Wear the coat or jacket you were bringing and stuff all the pockets.

Packing video: Check this out – bet you’ll learn something new.

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Published: October 16, 2013