How to Travel with Just a Carry-On | Carry-On Travel Tips

How to Travel with Only a Carry On
If you pack light, you pack right.
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Carry-On Travel Tips

With the constant rise in people looking to travel, efficient packing has caught the eye of many people. The benefits are endless, less stress, less headache, and you can even avoid checked bag fees!

You’d be surprised at how much junk can fit into a travel sized suitcase. Couple that with effective personal item packing and you have found the recipe for traveling success!

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Carry-On Rules

The key to a successful trip using only carry-ons, is knowing the rules that apply to each category. This includes your liquids, your personal item, and your actual carry-on luggage piece.

Liquids. The liquid rules are simple, the containers for your liquids must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller, and they must fit in a quart-size resealable bag. The easiest way to do this is to buy a quart-sized bag from Amazon, that way you know for sure you’ll be good to go. You can also get 3.4 ounce containers, and fill them with your shampoo, lotion, etc. if you want to be extra sure. 

Liquids should always be placed in your personal item, as they will have to be removed and placed separately when you go through security. Having them handy makes it that much easier for you.

Travel with Carry On

Personal Item. For the sake of brevity, I am not going to list out the size requirements for a personal item in this article, considering each airline has their own standards. What I will do, is give you a range. The biggest personal item size I can find, is 18” x 14” x 8, which is used on multiple airlines. The smallest, is 13” x 10” x 8”. 

Overall, personal items are simple things like purses, laptop bags, etc.; anything that fits underneath the seat in front of you. In my experience, personal items have been soft enough to squeeze down into the right size, if need be, but I have never been stopped before. I even took a whole backpack as a personal item before!

Carry On Rules

Carry-On Luggage. This is the actual suitcase or duffel-bag you are bringing on. Again, each airline has different standards, so I’ll just give you the range. The largest carry-on I can find, is 24” x 16” x 10” on Southwest Airlines. The smallest one I can find is 19.7” x 15.75” x 10”.

One thing to note, some flights only allow you to bring a personal item. Make sure you check your receipt to see if you can bring a carry-on. 

Carry On Luggage

What to Pack in Your Personal Item

Your personal item is called personal for a reason. This is where I recommend keeping all of your important documents such as ID’s, passports, tickets, baggage tags, etc. Things that you’ll need quick and easy access to throughout your trip.

Also, make sure you pack some gum, lip balm, and other comfort items to make your flight easier on you.

As I discussed above, liquid items and all your hygiene stuff should be placed in your personal item. This is due to the fact that it will have to be removed and placed on its own when you go through security. Having a quart-sized bag with everything makes it even easier.

On top of all this, place any and all electronics in here. That includes laptops, cell-phones, and other electronic devices. I say personal item because, again, they will have to be removed and placed separate when you go through security. If they are in your suitcase carry-on, you’ll have to go digging through it, and that is just going to hold everyone up.

Lastly, keep metal objects such as jewelry in here. I have had 50/50 experiences in my life when it comes to this stuff. Sometimes I need to take off my belt, and necklace, and shoes, but other times I don’t have to take anything off. And this is through standard TSA checks, not pre-check.

Either way, any metal items should go in your personal item.

Carry On Travel

What to Pack in Your Carry-On Luggage

Now for the big (little) dog. Your carry-on luggage should house all of your clothes, accessories, etc. The easiest way to do this, and make the most efficient use of your space, is to use packing cubes. Packing cubes are little bags that you can fill up with clothes, and then crush all the air out to shrink it down. Think of vacuum sealing meat before you put it in the freezer. Same concept, you are compressing all the air out of your clothes to fit more into a small space.

In my latest Youtube video, I pack a week’s worth of winter clothes into a 20” carry-on. That includes two pairs of shoes, hats, gloves, scarves, you name it! All that fit into a 20” carry-on, now imagine a 22” or 24”? You’d have all the room in the world!

Another tip I have used on various trips over the years, is to wear my biggest, bulkiest clothes on the place. This doesn’t apply so much to summer, but if you are traveling when it’s a bit chillier outside, you’ll most likely be bringing some jackets with you.

If you wear your largest jacket, your bulkiest shoes, etc., you can free up a ton of space in your suitcase. Once you get on the plane, just take your jacket off and set it on your lap, or even use it as a pillow. The possibilities are endless!

First Time Cruise

In Conclusion

Traveling with only a carry-on will save you a countless amount of time. Avoiding baggage claim, lost luggage, and pesky baggage fees are worth going the carry-on route any day of the week. 

Check out the video above for how to effectively pack the perfect carry-on. 

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About Troy

About Troy

Troy started his travel journey at 19 years old when he moved to Germany. Over the course of the following two years, he visited a total of 18 countries around Europe and the Middle East. He strives to see more of the world with each passing day.

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