photos by RaeTay Photography
I can't be the only one who misses the good old days when checking a bag at the airport was completely free. My, how we took that amenity for granted! Nowadays, checking a bag costs a minimum fee on almost every airline, making travelers everywhere want nothing more than to cram their entire life into their carry-on luggage (raising my hand over here #cheap). This can be difficult to do, however, especially if you're traveling somewhere cold where lots of coats and layers are needed. A tropical destination is a bit easier, but still tricky if you're a major over-packer like myself. Luckily I've learned a few tips and tricks along the way that have helped me learn to live out of my carry-on, even if the trip is a lengthy one.
Traveling without checking bags not only saves money, but arguably even more importantly saves time. You've planned this vacation for months and months- the last thing you want to do when you finally arrive at the destination of your dreams is stand at a baggage claim for thirty minutes next to the couple who argued on the entire flight and the hipster who hasn't showered in several weeks. Or even worse- your luggage never makes it around the Wheel of Misfortune and you have the unthinkable happen: your baggage is lost. I've had this happen to me not once but twice and it was enough to make me want to carry-on only for the rest of my days.
The next time you're jetting off and want to attempt fitting everything into a carry-on, here's the check-list to go over that ensures you can make it happen (giving you a giant virtual high-five):
Lay out every single item you want to bring on the bed (or floor, any large flat surface). I'm talking everything down to a nail file- the nitty gritty. Then evaluate. Will you really wear three different gray sweaters in a five day span? Will you have time to read two books? If the answer is no, leave it behind. Start by packing the items, in order, of what you absolutely have to have.
ROLL YOUR CLOTHES:
This may seem like an obvious one to most of you, but you'd be surprised how many people still do the old school fold & stack method. Rolling minimizes space by almost HALF of what stacking does if you roll tight enough, and don't even think twice about wrinkles. That's why hotels have a free iron ready for use!
USE TRAVEL SIZE EVERYTHING:
I have this leak-proof TSA approved set and use it every time I carry-on. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, or any other liquid that you can't live without goes right into these trusty little bottles. You can also just buy any travel-size products at Walmart or your grocery store and they work just fine. Just be sure to pack them in a clear bag for the security check.
UTILIZE THE "PERSONAL ITEM":
Ohhhh the "personal item". I couldn't make it without this beautiful little exception to the rules! This item is required to fit under the seat in front of you, and you can smoosh that bad boy under there any way you need to so long as it fits and isn't bulging out from it's hiding place. I typically go with a large tote, like this one, and lay it sideways under the seat. I stick my purse inside of the tote and pack both the tote and purse as full as I can. I always have my laptop, iPad, book, wallet, camera, gum, chargers, make-up bag, and lots more randomness with me in my tote. This is a life-saver and you've got to take full advantage. During our trip to Denver last November, Zach and I both shoved two coats EACH into our "personal items", on top of everything else I just listed. This saved us so much room in our carry-ons and we were able to fit souvenirs we bought during our trip on the way back without having to pay for a checked bag.
WEAR BULKY ITEMS DURING TRAVEL:
Just because you know it's going to be hot on the plane doesn't mean you can't shed your coat once you're on it. Don't pack big bulky items if you don't have to- go ahead and wear them during your flight. I've even been known to wear two coats while traveling, just because I didn't have room to pack them. Whatever works! Scarves and boots are also items you should wear during travel; tennis shoes may be more comfortable but wearing boots during the flight frees up a lot more room in your carry-on bag.
Chances are you aren't traveling alone or if you are, you know someone that will be meeting you at your destination. Communicate with these people and help one another out! Maybe you have a little extra room to fit something for a friend on the trip there, and she can free up space to haul your souvenirs back home. My friend Dede always carries on only and when we went to NYFW last fall, she had those of us checking bags and traveling a few days later bring some items she couldn't fit in her bag. Talk to your travel buddies and work out a plan that helps everyone get their sh*t together (literally). Communication is key, always!
A few other tips:
1. The Three Standard "S" Shoes- Everyone who knows me knows that I love shoes and have a tendency to overpack them when I travel (I packed an entire suitcase solely of shoes when I went to Europe for 10 days in '05). These days, I stick to the three "S" shoes when I'm traveling (unless it's for fashion week, of course):
Sensible: A pair of slip-ons, like my favorite ballet flats or TOMS
Sexy- 5 inch nude Louboutin pumps
Sweat-worthy- a good pair of Nike trainers
2. Reversible items all the way- Reversible means a total two for one, which is a light-packers' dream! No-one will even notice that you're wearing the same outfit two completely different ways. Lululemon has tons of items that are reversible and great for comfy travel.
3. Put things in your shoes- Let no space go unused! Cram socks, chargers, toiletry bags, even your hair brush into your shoes to maximize space.
Thank you so much for stopping by and sticking with this long-winded post! It's 12:53am and it's been a long day, so I apologize in advance for any typos that I'm too tired to reread and edit. I also need to apologize because I've gotten a ton of emails with questions from you guys this week and haven't gotten around to answering any of them- I promise I will! Hoping to tackle those in the next few days and don't want you to think I'm ignoring any of them. I LOVE hearing from you and can't thank you enough for being so kind and supportive of this little blog!
photos by RaeTay Photography