How to Pack a Week’s Worth of Stuff in a Carry-On

June 14, 2014

How to Pack a Week’s Worth of Stuff in a Carry-On


At $25 to $35 per suitcase (or more!), airline checked-bag fees can add up fast. There are definitely more enjoyable ways to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars. “Learn to pack skinny,” says Tamela Rich, veteran airline business traveler and author of “Live Full Throttle.” Rich never checks bags when she travels by air, even if she’ll be gone for weeks. You don’t have to either.

Rich’s trip tips will help you get a week’s worth of stuff into a carry-on bag, which saves money and time — no more waiting for your luggage at baggage claim.

Space Saver: Packing Strategically.

Follow Rich’s example by sticking to basic wardrobe pieces, such as a pair of black pants, jeans and black jeans, and a few tops that go with everything in a defined color palate — red, black, blue and green. “My travel wardrobe is like Lego pieces,” Rich says. “Everything interchanges.”

She sticks to cotton and blends and avoids “fussy” fabrics, like linen. She also wears some outfits more than once and hand-washes items like T-shirts, underwear, and socks in her hotel bathroom and line dries them on the towel rack overnight. This same modular concept also works for footwear. “I always plan my outfits to go with one pair of shoes,” Rich says. Then, depending on the season and what she’s up to, she’ll also bring a pair of boots, sneakers, or sandals — just two pair of shoes, that’s it.

Space Saver: Compress Your Clothes.

To fit everything in one carry-on bag, Rich rolls her clothes. “If it’s a really nice outfit, I’ll roll it with tissue paper first, which keeps clothing from creasing,” she says. She then tucks everything into space-saving bags, such as this eight-piece Ziploc Space Bag Travel Bag Set, which doesn’t require a vacuum. You simply roll air out through the bag’s one-way valve to compress items and create up to two times more space for your stuff.

Rich designates certain space bags for certain items, such as one space-saving bag for shirts and another for shorts, another for pajamas, and so on, so she doesn’t have to unpack everything to get to what she needs. For cosmetics, she prefers packing items in clear, individual bags, such as these Zip Storage Packing Pouches. “Individual bags are easier to pack than a big make-up kit because you can tuck them in wherever there’s a little open space in your suitcase,” Rich says. To save even more space, she packs a travel-size bottle of body wash, which she uses as bath soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent.

Space Saver: Leave Your Travel Jewelry Box at Home.

To look put together and stretch her wardrobe, Rich accessories with floral or patterned scarves instead of earrings and necklaces. “Scarves are crushable and easier to pack than jewelry,” she says. “You can add a scarf to the same base layers to make an outfit look entirely different.”

What are your tried-and-true travel tips?

Sandra Gordon




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