Packing in a carry-on suitcase makes a ton of sense. There’s the baggage fees, the concern of lost luggage, navigating streets on foot where vehicles are forbidden, small elevators, and the greatest benefit of all? Saving your tired back after a long flight! Given the clever innovations available to us in this day and age, packing in a carry-on is a realistic goal to set for even a longer trip.


Here are 8 tips to help you achieve the benefits of a carefree vacation…


Choose Light-Weight Fabrics

To minimize the bulk and weight clothing has the potential to add to your luggage, select fabrics that are lightweight and easily rolled up tight. Layering makes it possible for you to select lighter fabrics even in cooler months. Following this tip may mean specifically shopping for travel clothing. But, if you travel much, you won’t regret the investment. You probably already have a good idea about what clothing packs well and holds up for multiple days of wear, but here are the best travel clothing companions we know about:


Merino wool – This light-weight wool is breathable and a fantastic choice for cooler weather layering.


Nylon and polyester (performance fabrics) – These fabrics are ideal for multiple purposes (from easy-wear/easy-care dresses to athletic wear).


Rayon – We like rayon for its versatility and its ability to combine with other fabrics for the perfect travel wear! Rayon does not wrinkle and dries super quick if you need to do a wash.


Silk – Silk is so light-weight and comfortable it has to be included on this list, but you might need access to an iron at your hotel if you want to look pressed.


Cotton blends – Cotton isn’t always a great choice. If you choose the wrong cotton item it can be heavy, hard to dry, and wrinkle easily. But, light-weight cotton and cotton blends for tees, hiking pants, jeans or wrinkle-free business casual clothing hold up very well as staples that can be worn multiple times without a wash.



4-1 Rule

Here’s a great travel hack – the 4-1 packing rule. Include just 1 bottom for every 4 matching tops you put in your bag. One pair of jeans plus a neutral skirt and a pair of shorts that can be worn a couple of times without a wash can multiply into TONS of options and serve as the base for an entire trip’s wardrobe.



Color Coordinate

Choose ONE base (neutral) color for your trip (navy/black/tan/white) and coordinate everything around that color. It not only allows for more outfit combos, it also eliminates the need for extra accessories or shoes.



Packing cubes

Packing cubes will change your life if you haven’t discovered them yet. They not only consolidate everything considerably to allow for a greater number of items in your suitcase, they also help to organize and separate your outfits so you don’t have to unpack your entire suitcase and repack at every stop.



Limit your shoes

Shoes take up a lot of room and can add considerable weight to your luggage. If you are attempting to pack light(er) it is going to likely mean limiting yourself to two pairs of shoes. It isn’t impossible, but it might mean that choosing your outfits is secondary to choosing your shoes. Get in the habit of shopping specifically for versions that are lightweight, comfortable and versatile for the climate where you are going.



One Item, Multiple Roles

Could one item in your luggage play a number of roles? That’s a great way to cut down on bulk and weight. Here’s a few examples:

Depending on your plans for the day, a lightweight daypack can multipurpose as your purse, a camera bag, a hiking pack, and a shopping bag.


The right bathing suit cover up could serve you beyond the beach – as a cute casual dress or even as a nightgown.


A carefully chosen scarf (like a large, lightweight pashmina) can be used to dress up your outfits for a nicer restaurant, keep you warm on the plane, or protect you from the sun or rain. It can also be tied around your waist for a skirt in a situation where shorts won’t do (yep, I’ve done that!).



Choose a SINGLE Device

Are you a gadget geek? Laptop, Kindle, I-Pad, Smart Phone, Camera, I-Pod… Sure, they are small and portable, but they all add up. To take more than one (in most cases) is completely unnecessary. It is amazing what a smart phone OR an IPad can do when you fully access all of the features. You can have all of your reading materials, language translation, tipping cheat sheet, camera, hotel reservations, flashlight, emails and phone calls, games, music, weather, stocks, news, movies… the list goes on and on (as you know). Just because you can take them all, doesn’t mean you need to.



Maximize a Second Bag

In our experience, two roomy small bags are a lot easier to manage than one larger bag, especially if you can sling the second one over a shoulder. A larger backpack or an oversized, lightweight sack with pockets are fantastic options for maximizing what you can bring in addition to what fit in a rolling carry on! Keep the airplane essentials nearby in the smaller bag to stow under the seat so you never have to access the overhead carry-on suitcase in flight. Just be sure both bags comply with airline standards for two pieces.




Does packing in a carry-on still sound impossible? Give it a try on your next tour! You might be surprised if you apply these tips.