You’ve got your travel plans and are ready to head to your destination! It’s time to pack and once you start, that carry-on bag suddenly seems to shrink in size. When it comes to what to pack in your carry-on, less is more.

Packing lightly allows you to be more flexible with plans, which is a must when traveling – especially when you’re traveling with kids. Taking only a carry-on saves money in baggage fees and saves time. You’re not stuck waiting at the baggage carousel for luggage that might not even be there – and lost luggage is the worst! Plus, you get to enjoy your time instead of having to keep track of luggage.

One bag travel –carry-on size – takes a bit of extra planning but is completely worth it on your trip.

First and foremost: ditch the roller bag carry-on and invest in a backpack that fits you. Get measured to help find the right size pack so the load you’re carrying won’t feel as heavy. Backpacks are the way to go when flying because you’ll be hands-free for the kids and your coffee, and sometimes, when everyone else is stuck gate-checking their roller bags, you get to walk right on.

Carry-On Pro-Tip:
You don’t need to have the largest legal sizecarry-on either; it’s OK to have a bag that is a bit smaller.

What To Pack In Your Carry-on

What to Pack in Your Carry-On

Your Clothes
Well, the obvious first is clothes. Use packing cubes that double zip so they almost become a vacuum sealed package. You’ll need two: one for larger clothing items (jeans, sweater, etc.) and one smaller one (smaller clothing items or use this one for your kid’s clothes). Pack just one color family so that everything matches. A general rule is one pair of bottoms for every three tops.

Carry-On Pro Tip:
You can launder small items in the sink and air dry them overnight.

Wear Layers
Check the weather and plan to bring your favorite items only – that way you’ll love what you’re wearing and be comfortable. Of course, you’ll have to take your itinerary into account to help you decide what to take, but remember layers are key when you’re traveling and bring what you love to wear; what makes you feel the best. For kids pack a couple extra shirts and one extra pair pants so when spills happen you can have fresh clothes available.

Carry-On Pro-Tip:
Layers are essential to packing lightly.

Your Camera
You’re going to want a camera, and probably not just the one on your phone. If you have a DSLR, take only your most loved lens and several extra memory cards. It should be the one you keep on your camera the most, the one you shoot with all the time. Wrap it in with the clothes in your smaller packing cube and wrap your camera body in with the clothes in the larger packing cube. Or, opt for a small camera bag that can be your personal item on the plane and a day bag once you get to your destination.

Carry-On Pro-Tip:
Get a super comfortable camera strap so you can carry your camera when you need to, you will be more likely to actually use it.

What To Pack In Your Carry-on

Your Toiletries
Bring only the toiletries you absolutely cannot live without. When you get to your destination either use hotel shampoo or hit up a local store and try some new products. Same with the diaper or pull-up situation: take what you will need for the trip plus two extras, then buy more when you get there.

Carry-On Pro-Tip:
Have two toiletry bags: dry (powder base makeup, razor handle, toothbrush, etc.) and wet (liquid base make up, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) to save room in the allowed quart size “wet” bag.

What To Pack In Your Carry-on

What Not to Pack?

Don’t Pack Your Shoes
Don’t pack your shoes; wear them. They should work with everything you have packed. If you really must pack shoes, pack flats – a “go with everything pair” that you love. Skip packing a lot of accessories, instead find a fun accessory or two as souvenirs. For longer trips don’t pack more, just plan out how you will launder as you go.

Carry-On Pro-Tip:
Get a couple of pair of these flats that are easy to pack.

Just One Carry On?

When traveling solo, yes- just one bag! When traveling with kids you’ll want to take advantage of the personal item allowed on the plane. Or, you might want a small additional bag to serve as a camera bag. One bag travel really is ideal, but that extra personal item can be a lifesaver. Choose a small messenger style bag that fits with your backpack (hands-free travel is essential with kids!) and one that can double as a day bag when you get to your destination.

Carry-On Pro-Tip:
Don’t stuff your one bag to the seams, leave some room so you can fly home with only one bag plus your souvenirs.

Now, enjoy the freedom of traveling lightly and make some wonderful memories on your trip!

What To Pack In Your Carry-on

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