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How to Pack a Carry-On When Everything’s Heavy


There’s nothing worse than flying to a travel destination and rushing off the plane only to have to wait at baggage claim for what seems like forever to retrieve your suitcase. This is one of the main reasons why many people choose to pack only carry-on whenever possible (you never stand a chance of losing your luggage – another plus).


But packing for a trip to a cold weather destination – like a ski mountain, where you’ll need jumpers and a jacket – or a longer vacation where you won’t have much access to laundry can fit everything you need. Carry-on is a bit tricky. That struggle is real.

We talked to organization and packing experts for tips and tricks to help you fit even the largest items in your carry-on. And while we can’t promise that you won’t have to sit on your suitcase to close it (yes, we do too!), it can make the packing process less stressful.

Check the weather where you are going.

You won’t even know where to start if you don’t know if it will be hot, cold, muggy, rainy, etc. where you are traveling. Be sure to check the weather as a first step.


“Make a list of next activities and plan what you need per activity,” said Anne McAlpinTravel expert and author ofpack it up! The Essential Guide to Organized Travel“Who traveled 21 days around the world with just one carry-on.

“Plan to layer your clothing for warmth instead of trying to pack several large bulky items. Puffer vests and coats pack down to nothing in compression bags, yet add warmth and comfort, and can double as a pillow on the plane,” McAlpine told HuffPost.

Write a list of everything you want to pack.


Make a list, and check it twice! Make sure it includes all the travel essentials you will need.

“Then lay everything out and categorize by item type to get a complete look at how many items you have for each category” Marie Kondocleaning expert and founder of KonMari method,

Narrow down your list – Cosmetics in particular.


Don’t bring things just because they’re travel size. ,One mistake I often see my clients make when they travel is packing too many toiletries,” said Dream Montale, owner of dream outfit And ShelfGenie West Brooklyn, “They use traveling as an excuse to bring every sample item they’ve gotten from a department store, and still never end up using them, so my first pro tip when you’re packing these items is to be strategic and Gotta be realistic.”

Montali tells HuffPost that she recommends using labeled pouches for items like toiletries, hair dryers, curlers, and more to keep items organized and easy to find. “I also recommend investing in travel size/friendly hair tools like hair dryer brushes if that works for your hair type as they take up less space than your average blow dryer,” she said.

Wear large items on the plane.

If you’re going somewhere cold and need to bring lots of big, warm layers, consider wearing as many as you can on the plane. “This saves room in your suitcase for other items and layering pieces,” Montali said.

BlueCinema via Getty Images

Wearing bulky items like your jackets and scarves on the plane can help you save space in your suitcase.

Use packing cubes and shoe bags.

These tools not only help you keep things organized, but they also help keep everything in the suitcase clean (since shoe soles can get dirty sometimes).

,If you have a particularly bulky pair of shoes that won’t fit in a bag, try keeping the soles together and packing them toward the bottom of your suitcase or duffel to avoid the soles touching your clothing. Kondo said.

If you don’t have a packing cube, McAlpin suggests using a plastic compression bag. “Zip them at the top to close them and let the air out of the one-way-air valves,” she said. “Plus, they also seal in odors, so they’re perfect for washing laundry on the way home.”

Fold heavy items to make them smaller.

Kondo explained that by using Konmari Method Folding Technique, you can easily fit two to three heavy items into the large packing cubes. “It will Make sure your selected items are stored upright rather than stacked in a heap,” she said. “This tactic will allow you to maximize the space in your suitcase, and when you open your bag or suitcase you’ll Easily view all of your outfit options.”

Here’s how she advises folding long sleeves and jumpers:

  1. Fold one side towards the center.
  2. Fold the sleeve to fit the width of the rectangle.
  3. Fold the sleeve to the back along the edge of the rectangle.
  4. Fold the other side in the same way.
  5. Fold in half lengthwise – and don’t forget the gap on the edge.
  6. Fold in half or thirds.
  7. Stand the jumper upright.

Also try Kondo’s method for folding jeans or sweatpants:

  1. Fold the legs in half.
  2. Fold the legs up towards the waistband – and leave a gap at the edge.
  3. Fold in half or thirds.
  4. Stand the pants up straight.

Pack hard items on the bottom.

Can’t leave the house without your hair dryer or curling iron? ok! ,Pack heavy bulky items like flat irons, straighteners or curling irons in the bottom of your bag,” said McAlpine. “With smaller items like underwear and tank tops, also use the awkward space between handles.”

Be sure to pack these items on the opposite side of your suitcase from your clothes, and if your bag has tie-downs or compression straps, use them to keep the items from moving or falling when you open the bag. Toiletries can also go on this side.

“I keep as many clothes, if not all, on one side of the suitcase and the other side for shoes and accessories and jackets,” Montali said.

Do not take any place lightly.

When attempting to use only a carry-on, there’s no extra space to be wasted—that means even the inside of your shoes. ,Pack socks inside shoes to save space,” said McAlpine. “Take them a step further by packing them inside the shoes you plan to wear them in later to save yourself the time spent searching through your bags.”

Also, use the space in larger items like boots. “I find that stuffing tall boots with a few items like curling irons, socks, puffer jackets or vests, and other accessories is a great way to use up space and keep some shape for your shoes,” Montali said.

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