How To Pack Everything Into A Carry On That You Will Need For A Week Long Trip

It’s hard to think about doing the impossible. You can’t possibly wrap your mind around how you are going to pull this off. But, you have to, you have no other choice. You open your closet to pull out your only piece of luggage: a carry-on. It is baffling that you are going to try to fit a week’s worth of clothes, shoes, and toiletries in this tiny suitcase, but it’s the night before your trip and you have to give it the old college try. I know it can be difficult to limit or cut down items that you want to take on the trip, but sacrifices must be made. This is doable. I should know since I do this practically every time I travel by plane. I’m going to let you know how I pack everything into a carry-on that you will need for a week-long trip.  

First things first, let’s start with the most essential part: the suitcase. The carry-on is usually a bag that will fit into the overhead bins on the plane. According to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), carry-on bags must not exceed 22 inches tall, 14 inches long, and 9 inches wide or 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters. Don’t start panicking! I know this may seem like not a lot to work with, but I promise you can fit more in there than you think! For me, I prefer the hard shell cases because I feel like they are more durable. And if the plane runs out of overhead room before you board and you have no choice but to check your bag, that hard shell bag will be ready to handle whatever comes its way. 

Let’s move on to the good part: packing! I always start on clothes since that usually takes me the longest to decide what I want to pack. I’ll look in my closet and get out everything I think I might need for my trip. I’ll count my number of days and nights and try to keep the number of items I am grabbing close to the number I counted. From there, I’ll loosely plan an outfit for each day and start weeding out items I won’t need. I will usually pack a few more items just in case I change my mind while I am on the trip. Now, we start rollin’. That’s right; by rolling your clothes up, you can save so much space in your suitcase! I started doing this in 2014 and have been doing it ever since! I know lots of people use cubes or have their own way of making space, but this one has always worked for me. I start by rolling my more bulky items first such as jeans, sweatpants, and hoodies. These will take up a lot of space so you want to make sure that you roll these as tight as you can to make them as small as you can. Next, I’ll roll the lighter items such as t-shirts and shorts. This will usually make my suitcase pretty full, but we still got more to pack! 

One thing that I seem to forget that takes up a lot of space is shoes. I try to limit how many I take, but nevertheless, I somehow end up taking more than I need. A tip that I recommend is to wear the bulkiest pair of shoes you will need to the airport. That will save up space in the suitcase! For a week-long trip, I suggest you bring up to four pairs of shoes. I know that every trip is different and I can hear the “only four?! That is nowhere near enough!” in my head as I write this but here is how I came up with that number. You’ll have one pair of shoes on that you wear to the airport. Next, you’ll pack an everyday shoe, one that you can wear anywhere. After that, you’ll want a nicer pair of shoes, ones that you could wear to a fancy dinner or go out on the town. And finally, you will either need a pair of shoes for inside your accommodation or just an extra pair of every day or fancy shoes, because you might not want the ones that you originally packed. Obviously, if you are going on a hiking trip, bring your boots and if you are traveling to an island getaway, pack all the sandals and flip-flops, but I hope this gives you a rough idea for the next time you are sole searching for how many pairs of shoes to bring. 

You are almost done! The suitcase is borderline overflowing, but there is one more thing to pack: toiletries. Even if you live under a rock, I’m sure you will know that in a carry-on, liquids have to be 3.4 oz or smaller and fit in a clear, quart-sized bag. You want to make sure you have all your necessary ones: shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste. I always try to pack my razor and toothbrush in the same bag so all my bathroom things are together, but sometimes there just isn’t room. I have a lot of skincare items so those usually take up the rest of the space in the bag. You want to make sure that the toiletries bag is either on top of the clothes in your suitcase or leave it out until you get through airport security. Usually, TSA agents will ask you to get this out of your suitcase so you want to make sure it is easily accessible to put in the bin to go through the machine at airport security. This aspect of packing can always be the most stressful I feel. You never know if the TSA agent is going to question any of it or if they don’t give it a second glance. I know I have gotten away with more liquids than allowed, but also had things thrown away when I felt I did everything right. May the odds be ever in your favor. 

Okay, this is it. The moment of truth. Clothes, check. Shoes, check. And toiletries, check. You say a little prayer that this carry-on will close. You start on one side and pull the zipper. It’s going, it’s going…and it’s not budging. Okay now to the other side. The zipper is gliding along when it abruptly comes to a stop. You’re so close! This has to work! It’s time to break out some wrestling moves. Before you know it, you are laying on your suitcase, pleading for it to close. With one last effort and a string of curse words, it closed! You do a little happy dance, you did it! You packed everything into a carry-on that you needed for a week! I’ll try not to rain on your parade too much, but good luck packing everything back up for when you come back home.

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