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The Carry-On Luggage Club

How many times have you sat waiting at the luggage carousel at destination (and keeping your fingers crossed) waiting for your luggage to come off the carousel and wondered to yourself why your bag always seems to be the last one? If you’re tired of waiting on your luggage or hate paying the extra fees for your checked bags, you should consider joining the ‘Carry-on Club’! Well, it’s not actually a club but more and more travelers are learning to travel light, going on one week, two weeks or even longer vacations with a carry-on bag and one personal item.

How do they do it?

Well, it’s all about the planning and only packing what you need (not for what you might need). Many packing experts suggest that you line up all the clothes you intend to pack and then divide by half. Or another tip I use is to wear each item you intend to bring at least three times.

Here are some of our tips:

1. Important Papers should always be kept with you and in an easy to reach place. Check that you have everything you need:

- Passport, other documents such as visas, local identification, boarding passes (there’s an app for that), cash, travel itinerary and hotel information (there’s an app for that too). I always like to take a photo of these items on my phone and I also leave copies with a relative at home in the event they get lost.

2. Medications: The space required is highly dependent on your needs. Place what you can in your personal item or small pockets and spaces.

3. If it’s bulky or heavy, wear it: Jackets, big sweaters, jeans and your most cumbersome shoes or boots should be worn on the plane.

4. Shoes: Try not to bring more than two pairs of shoes (of course that is highly dependent on the type of holidays as well). Wear the heavier pair and pack the smaller pair(s). You may want to add a pair of slippers or flip flops for the hotel which don’t take up too much room.

5. Toiletries: Bring just what you need. I often hear people say that they bring the bare minimum and purchase the rest at destination however, the last thing I want to do is go shopping for toiletries upon arrival. There is such a great selection of travel size toiletries available now that I do not think it is necessary. If you decide to pack toiletries remember that they must all fit in one small plastic bag.

6. Electronics: These items are starting to demand more and more space—phones, chargers, small laptops, cameras for the photo buff and travel adaptors. Choose wisely and bring only what you need and use. A power bar can be a useful item worth packing; plugs are often in short supply so this will allow you to charge all your electronics in one spot.

7. Clothes: Here is a guideline suggested by several pack-light experts.

One week’s worth of clothing should consist of (you can alter to suit your needs and destination):

- 4 short sleeved shirts

- 4 long sleeved shirts

- 2 pairs pants/shorts or skirts

- 1 pair gym shorts

- 1 swimsuit

- 6 underwear

- 6 pairs of socks

- 1 scarf/sarong

- Sunglasses and glasses/contacts

FYI! Some women prefer dresses and tights and can exchange them for other items on the list. If you are traveling to a beach destination, you will want to bring a couple of swimsuits.

- Rain jacket (if inclement weather is likely, bring a light packable rain jacket.

8. Miscellaneous: luggage lock, water bottle, pen, notepad, reading material (there’s an App for that) or things to do and snacks if there’s room

Packing Tips:

- Leave no space unfilled. Roll small items in a bag and pack them in shoes. Fold items to fit between the bars of the roller bags or side pockets of backpacks. If you’re wearing a jacket, you can fill the pockets if you need to.

- Roll or fold? Some travelers are experts at rolling clothing and this method can save space. You can stack rolls or stand them upright in your bag. Test it out on which methods works best for you.

- Choose complimentary color palettes so you can mix and match items to create several outfits.

- If traveling for two weeks or longer consider doing laundry instead of packing more clothing. Most hotels and some cruises lines will offer this service or you can find a laundromat.

- Consider bringing old items of clothing that you can leave behind or donate; this makes room for souvenirs coming home.

- Wear shirts for two days, pants for three days and bring scarves or accessories to change your look versus more outfits. A little Febreeze can freshen up clothes that aren’t dirty.

- Formal evenings pose a challenge. Women can go for the ever useful little black dress or a skirt and dress top; men can usually get away with light dress pants, shirt and tie though sometimes jackets are required. Bring accessories like scarves, jewellery (leave the good stuff at home) or a couple of ties if you expect to have more than one formal evening.

I hope these tips were helpful. Once you experience the freedom you will enjoy the freedom of going carry-on only and with practice you will become better at packing.


Be sure to check your airline’s carry on and personal item sizes!

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