Truth be told, I would find it hard to write an article entitled, How To Pack A Giant Suitcase With Everything You Own. The older I get, the less I am inclined to own stuff for stuff’s sake.
It’s not like I don’t shop on Amazon or anything – I’m not an animal — but it is true that I am more careful of what I get and how often I click. I ask myself if I will really use something. And if I am particularly exhausted, I add the words, “Are you SURE?” Tired me is pretty damn sure that a heated Shiatsu massager is a must have. (True story).
I have a lot of things to work on, but I have been meticulously minimalistic when it comes to my travelling. I started travelling so long ago that websites for travel were in their infancy. I even used real maps rather than Google maps, which if you knew me, you would know is a laughable concept. I regularly get lost on the same routes in my own city. Back in those days and even now, I have made a carry-on my only way to travel. I even went away for two months with just a carry-on.
There are many reasons why, from lost luggage to waiting for luggage (which shaves time off of the whole travel experience), but let’s get into the how. Here are my tried and true tips and tricks for packing a carry on only.
Buy a hard sided suitcase with wheels that pivot.
If this is your one piece of equipment that must make the journey with you, make sure it is durable and that it makes your life easier. If parts are broken, get them fixed before your trip. Nothing is more annoying than having to force the suitcase handle back into place. Make sure your suitcase fits all airline regulations, because it is just the worst to have your carry on taken off the plane.
Get packing cubes.
File this under “useful things to order from Amazon.” Packing cubes are a fairly new revelation to me, but oh my, have they changed the game. Now that I travel with my one-year-old (and yes, with just a carry on) these are a must.
Organize, organize, organize.
Whether you are using reusable shopping bags or the aforementioned packing cubes, it is best to organize your stuff so you are able to find things once you get to your destination. I made a cube for toiletries, one for undergarments, one for my clothes, one for my son’s clothes, and one for miscellaneous. Remember you can also bring a giant purse or a backpack so you can leave some things for those bonus areas.
Reuse hotel toiletry containers.
They are the perfect size for bringing onto airplanes and can easily be washed out and replaced with everything from your moisturizer to your conditioner.
Don’t be afraid to buy once you land.
Unless you are travelling to the moon, chances are your destination will have some things at your disposal. You can buy a full size sunscreen at your destination if you know that you have a week’s worth of lathering. If you are staying with your friend, you can borrow some PJs. I have even done clothing subscription rentals in the place where I have landed and returned the clothes by the time I left. This allowed me to look fashionable in new clothing, without having to drag dirty clothes back home with me.
You don’t need multiples of anything.
Might it rain? Might it be chilly? No problem. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane (you can always take off some layers, but planes do have a tendency to get chilly). Bring one pair of pants, one tank top, one cardigan, one dress. Maximum one pair of shoes in the suitcase, one on your feet. No one cares if you’re wearing a head to toe new outfit every single day.
Laundry makes it easy.
I like to launder my clothes just before I leave a destination. This way, I don’t have to add one more chore to my list when I return home. Bring one or two of those detergent pods with you. Chances are you can do laundry, whether it is at your AirBnB, your hotel, or even a laundromat. This will also mean it won’t be such a travesty if you spill something on your one outfit.
If you have a similar article for tips and tricks for how not to get lost, please do send it my way. Until then, happy travels!