8 Packing Hacks For When You Only Have A Carry-On

by Megan Grant

Whenever you're packing for a trip, there's one game you inevitably play. It's called How Many Things Can I Fit In This Suitcase And Still Get It On The Plane? Avoiding checked baggage is nonnegotiable for many of us, considering the ever increasing fees for luggage that doesn't fit into that darn overhead storage container. If you're adamant about traveling with only what you can bring with you, you'll be needing these eight packing hacks when you only have a carry-on.

It's not just the fees that deter us from entrusting the airlines with our valuable belongings. There's also that nagging concern that when you land at your destination, your suitcase is going to stand you up like your date to the prom. Although statistics show improvement over the last 30-ish years, as of 2015, there were still approximately 1.92 million reports of mishandled baggage, according to information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That's 3.24 reports for every 1,000 passengers. (It's a heck of a lot better than conditions in 1990: 2.66 million reports, or 6.73 reports per 1,000 passengers.)

The only solution to annoying fees and potentially delayed or lost luggage is to stick with carry-on. Here are eight ways you can cram more in that suitcase than you ever thought imaginable. Remember: it's all about strategy.


Roll, Don't Fold

This is probably the most common travel hack, but it's worth repeating. Rolling your clothes saves space and also helps reduce wrinkles. It's a win-win! Plus, it looks really satisfying when you're all finished. Does anyone like to go the extra mile and organize it by color and style? No? Just me?...


Pack The Biggest Items First

Start with shoes and any other larger items, and then fill in the gaps with smaller stuff that can easily fit in those little nooks and crannies, like undergarments. So, that full body scarf of yours? Yup, probably start with that bad boy.


Stack Your Bras

Layer your bras on top of each other so the cups are all lined up. This saves some room in your suitcase and also prevents the cups from getting folded and having a hideous dent that will definitely show through your shirt. If you want to be a super packing ninja, fold the stack of bras in half, and shove your panties in the middle. It's a panty sandwich.


Wear The Bulkiest Stuff To The Airport

Even if you're currently in a warmer climate, if you're traveling someplace colder and you're bringing things like boots or big jackets, do yourself a huge favor and wear them to the airport. It will leave much needed space in your suitcase. Plus, aren't planes usually a wee bit nippy?


Roll Up Belts Into Collared Shirts

Goodbye forever to smushed collars that lose their shape. Another option is to line the inside of your suitcase with the belts. It prevents dents and is so much more efficient than rolling your belts in a giant coil and just tossing 'em in.


Stuff Your Shoes With Socks

The inside of your shoes is prime real estate — don't waste it. If you're concerned about any nasty smells spreading, pack your socks — or whatever else you shove in there, like your skivvies — in a plastic bag first. (Side note: you can also put your shoes in old grocery bags to keep them from dirtying up all your stylish clothes.)


Use Lens Containers For Beauty Products

You know what takes up a ridiculous amount of space? Awkwardly shaped, hard, unnecessarily large bottles, tubes, and containers of make-up. You don't even need that much. Instead, use a contact lens case for products like concealer, foundation, primer, and even moisturizer.


Overlap Your Clothes

If, for any reason, you're not a fan of the rolling method, there's another way to fold your clothes and still save more space than you would with traditional folding. There's some weird Houdini magic going on here, so watch the video and admire her technique.