How To Pack In Just A Carry-On


Hello over-packers. If you’re anything like me, then the term “packing lightly” makes you cringe. However that being said, there are many advantages to packing lightly. You save money on having to check a bag at the airport and you’re not stuck waiting around for your bag at the carousel. Not to mention you eliminate the possibility of being an unfortunate victim of lost luggage. However, with airlines cracking down on the weight and size of your carry-on, how do you pack everything you need in just a 9 X 14 X 22inch suitcase? Here is your ultimate guide to fitting all your necessities in just your carry-on luggage.

Two Bags

While the rules say that you only get one carry-on, you actually get two: one carry-on and one personal bag. If you want to optimize your space, make the personal bag a large weekend or duffle bag (such as the picture below on the right). You can put a small purse inside of this duffle bag, and also squeeze in toiletries, hair accessories, or extra clothing. I suggest putting the lighter items inside the weekend/duffle bag, as you will likely be carrying it or slinging it over your shoulder at some point. The carry-on (bottom left) will go in the plane storage compartments above your seat, and the duffle bag (bottom right) will go under the seat in front of you.


These are the two pieces of Vince Camuto luggage I use. I like them because they’re simple but easy to identify in a crowd of other luggage. Trust me, you’ll be thanking me later when all you have to do is pull these two pieces of luggage from your seat, walk off the plane and right out of the airport.

Plan Ahead!

The more you can leave behind, the better! I’m guilty of packing a bunch of beauty products and clothes that I inevitably don’t use half of. You don’t need three eyeshadow pallets, you need one. You don’t need five different jackets, you need two or three. Decide if you’re going to be walking a lot, or if you want fancier shoes. Plan out every single day of your vacation so that you can better evaluate what is a necessity and what you can leave behind.

Makeup and Skin Products

I’m a big fan of makeup. I think it’s a lot of fun and I love dressing up. However, makeup and skin products take up a lot of unnecessary room in a suitcase. Here is my list of necessary beauty products to bring on your next trip, the rest you can leave behind! Below are a few examples of my favorites!

  • Facial Cleanser

  • Make up remover

  • Sunscreen

  • Tinted Moisturizer

  • Foundation

  • Primer

  • Finishing powder

  • 1 Small eyeshadow pallet

  • Eyeliner

  • Mascara

  • Blush

  • Bronzer

  • Lip gloss



As women, one pair of shoes is probably not going to cut it for the whole vacation. At the very least, you want one pair of comfy walking shoes and one dressier pair for a potential night out. Unfortunately, shoes can be one of the heaviest and most awkward items to fit into a small suitcase. The tip is to wear your biggest or heaviest pair of shoes on the plane to avoid taking up unnecessary space in your bag. I usually wear my over the knee boots on the plane to avoid awkwardly shoving them into my carry-on. Now you can fit one or two smaller pairs of shoes in your suitcase.


People who have long hair usually require more grooming products including a flat iron, curling iron, accessories and endless bottles of dry shampoo, hair spray, etc. My advice is to wash and style (blow out or straighten) your hair the night before you leave for your trip. This way, your hair will stay looking nice for a few days and you can minimize the number of products you need to bring. Here is my list of hair necessities to pack in your carry-on.

  • Dry shampoo

  • Shampoo & Conditioner

  • Hair Brush

  • Hair ties

  • Hair clips

  • Flat Iron (depending on the trip)

  • Hair accessories (if desired)

Remember! The less you can bring, the better. Don’t bring it if you’re not positive you’re going to use it.


Travel Size Toiletries

Because you’re trying to pack in just a carry-on, you have to adhere to the TSA restrictions. You’ll have to find compact versions (under 3.4oz) of liquid including toothpaste, makeup remover, and shampoo. Also, bear in mind that aerosol cans are not allowed in carry-ons either, so you’ll have to find a hairspray that comes in a spritz bottle. Getting mini versions of all your products is a great way to save space! You’ll be able to find most mainstream products in travel sizes but if for some reason you can’t, you can invest in reusable travel toiletry containers. I once got all my oversized toiletries confiscated at security and trust me, you don’t want to be in that disappointing situation.

Tip! Make sure to put your bottles in a zip lock bag before you put it in your suitcase in case of any spillage!

Tip! Make sure to put your bottles in a zip lock bag before you put it in your suitcase in case of any spillage!



You may do this anyway, but if you’re not used to planning your outfits in advance, then you should start practicing! I know you may want options but not over packing and bringing just what you need is the optimal way of saving space. Try reusing pieces of clothing to make multiple outfits such as a jean jacket, pair of shoes, or pair of pants. Here’s a little tip for packing. If you roll your clothes instead of folding them, not only will you save space, but you won’t get any wrinkles in your clothes either!

Check out Andrea Chavez’ Pinterest on how to roll clothing to optimize space.


Packing lightly definitely (and ironically) takes a lot of planning and a little bit of sacrifice but in the end, saves you a lot of time and grief. Give it a try and let me know your thoughts! Comment below any extra tips that you have!


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