How To Pack Your Carry On Bag: The Top 5 Tips Every Traveler Should Follow

Let's set the stage - you're a couple of weeks out from your trip - you've booked your flight, reserved your hotel room and bought your travel health insurance policy.  Now it's time to start the packing process.

How you go about packing your main carry-on bag can be pivotal for how smoothly your trip will go. If you pack too little or forget something you could find yourself having to go to the store to buy an extra pair of underwear or that toothbrush you may have forgotten. If you pack too much, you'll have a completely different type of stress - your bag is overweight, is a pain to carry around and you might have to pay huge airline checked baggage fees at the airport.

So, what should you do to make sure your bag is packed with everything you need, easy to get around, and will keep you from having to pay checked baggage fees? Here's the top 5 tips you should follow when you pack your carry-on bag.

1. Make a packing list

Making a packing list may seem like a tedious and unnecessary process, but it's something we've found to be a necessity to make sure you pack everything you need. You'll want to start this a couple of weeks before you go on your trip so you have extra time to make sure you can go pick up items you might not already have. It also gives you wiggle room to continue to add to the list and make sure you've thought through what you'll need based off of where you're traveling to. If you need a place to keep track of your packing list, then check out this packing list generator.

2. Make sure you have the right sized bag

If you're trying to avoid paying any checked bag fees, then you'll want to make sure that your bag fits within your airlines carry-on-luggage size requirements. Individual airlines have different sized overhead compartments, but there are options for generalized carry on luggage sizes if you go to your local store or order luggage online. There also aren't normally weight restrictions on carry on bags, so you can load them up (as long as you can still lift it up into the compartment without too much help).

3. Roll, don't fold your clothes

This is something that's been researched and blogged about hundreds, if not thousands of times. Tightly rolled clothes will take up less space than folded ones, and you can prevent wrinkles. You can even roll up your socks into a pair of underwear or a t-shirt, saving even more space! Personally, even without the space saving benefits, we think that rolling clothes is easier than folding them. For some tips on how to roll your clothes, check out the Army Rolling Method.

4. Follow the 3-1-1 rule

The 3-1-1 rule is the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) restriction on liquids that you carry on through security. This restriction is why you see a big trash can full of water bottles, shampoo bottles, and anything that's doesn't meet the 3.4 ounce liquid requirement before you go through security. You will want to follow this TSA rule so you don't get held up at security or need to throw away that new bottle of shampoo you just bought: All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag.

5. Use packing aids

What exactly are packing aids? Packing aids make the packing process easier, more organized and save you space in your bags. There are a bunch of different options out there for packing aids - these include vacuum seal bags to to compress your clothes, packing cubes to organize your bag and travel pouches to keep all of your toiletries organized and in one place. Eagle Creek has some awesome options when it comes to finding ways to save space in your bag.

So, these are our top 5 tips for packing your carry-on bag. If you have any more tips, or want to guest write for our blog, then please email Travel safe, travel covered.

James Beam

James is the co-founder of Covered Traveler, and an avid traveler having visited 30 of the 50 states and multiple countries outside of the U.S. He enjoys traveling to places that are close to the water so he can fish, surf and relax on the beach.

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