How to Pack a Carry On Suitcase

how to pack a carry on suitcase
LA Hat | Ruffle Sleeve Tee, on major sale! | Similar Jeans | Nike Juvenate Kicks
There is no such thing as packing light when you're a blogger slash clothing fanatic. I will forever and always be an over packer - it is far better to have too many outfits than not enough, amirite?! And don't even get me started on the amount of hair products I travel with..... BUT, you also have to save room for any souvenirs you might bring home! That being said, with all of my weekend trips this year, I've learned a few packing secrets. It is possible to squeeze everything into a carry on and I'm here to tell you how.

I thought I'd do a little "Pack With Me" type post as I get ready to head out of town this weekend for a three-year-anniversary getaway. Any guesses as to where we're headed? It will be slightly cooler (temperature wise) and much more scenic than Oklahoma, I'll give you that!

4 tips for packing a carry on

1. Toiletry Distribution 
The #1 thing I had to change when packing a carryon vs. a large suitcase was the way I organized my toiletries and makeup. I used to put it ALL in one larger sized bag that I could carry to and from the bathroom. It worked great and helped me feel organized and tidy, but it just didn't fit in my carryon correctly. It was too bulky and took up way too much room. Now, I separate everything into smaller bags: one for makeup, one for makeup brushes, one for hair products, one for face/body/toothpaste. With multiple smaller bags, you can "tetris" your way through packing and squeeze everything in to fit. Of course, TSA requires liquids to be 3 oz or less and to fit in a quart sized ziplock when using a carry on.....and I require multiple ziplocks (lol). I keep one in my suitcase, one in my personal bag/tote and sometimes I have to have C take one, too.

I used to think it was one ziplock per person, but it is actually one per bag, so you can spread them around.

If the trip is short enough, I've learned to wash my hair the morning of travel so that I can leave the shampoo, conditioner, detangler and leave in products at home and just bring dry shampoo and hairspray with me. If I know I'll need to wash my hair during the trip, though, I try to bring a single sample size shampoo/conditioner to save room instead of multiple 3 oz bottles! Also, I used to always bring my own hair dryer because hotel hair dryers suck, but I've decided an extra pair of shoes is often times more useful than a hair dryer I'll use once or twice. I can get by with a hotel hair dryer if I have to.

If you don't want to go out and buy travel sized toiletries, most drug stores have empty 3 oz bottles (squeeze bottles and spray bottles) that you can fill at home with your everyday products. I use these for all of my face/skin care items.

suitcase organization
Rose Gold Flats | Nude Heels

2. Suitcase Organization 
When packing, I like to compartmentalize everything. My suitcase has a separator in the middle, so I keep one side for clothes and the other side for shoes and toiletries and everything else (glasses, jewelry, my curler, etc). That way, if the shoes smell or if the toiletries leak, they aren't ruining my clothes. Working with so little room, it is important to take advantage of every nook and cranny so a lot of times I'll put my glasses case or my point and shoot camera inside a shoe, ha! I use the built in zippered compartments for socks and undies.

I've heard packing organizers like these can work tremendously. I've yet to try them myself, but I'm willing to bet they are v. useful.

traveling with only a carry on

3. Clothing Coordination
This is the hardest part for me. I basically want to have a completely different outfit for every meal......bc pictures and Instagram. But choosing clothing that can mix and match together is a game changer. Bring a pair of jeans that matches every top. Wear jewelry that goes with every outfit. Bring neutral shoes that will coordinate with everything in your suitcase - one black pair and one brown pair, maybe, or one dressy pair, one casual pair. I typically end up trying everything on and laying out all my outfits on the bed before packing, just to be sure it all works. Better to be safe than sorry. You'd hate to get somewhere and have the completely wrong bra with you - been there, done that!

Also, I typically like to stick to my best basics, like that solid tee I know and love or the shorts I've worn a million times, because you can trust them! It is easier to add new accessories to spice up an outfit you've worn a million times than to bring a multitude of tops you might not feel comfortable or cute in. Dresses, rompers or jumpsuits are great, too, because they are an entire outfit in one piece instead of several different items. Win!

casual travel outfit 4. Day of Travel Outfit
Lastly, the most important tip I have for "packing light" (if you can call it that) is to wear your biggest items on the flight and carry as much as you can in your personal item/tote bag/backpack. I always travel in my biggest pair of shoes and chunkiest outfit. In this instance, I'm sporting my Nikes and jeans because they would take up the most room out of everything I'm packing (i.e. shorts, tanks, sundresses and sandals). Even if I'm bringing my big suitcase, I still follow this rule to keep the bag under the weight limit.

This time last year, when we visited Belize, I was terrified to travel with just a carryon. Terrified! The toiletry/ziplock/TSA situation gave me so much anxiety! But, after traveling with only a carry on repeatedly this year, I feel like I've finally gotten the hang of it. It is so much faster and easier and you don't have to worry about airlines losing your luggage. I even made it to Denver and back with a puffy coat and winter clothes and still had room to spare.

Do you have any tips for packing in a carry on? If so, I'd love to hear!

Thanks for reading!

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