Here we are at the heart of the matter–the carry on bag. I have watched more battles over carry on bags and overhead bins than I care to remember. And it is getting worse as most airlines are charging the majority of passengers for checked bags. So now folks are trying to avoid these fees by carrying all their stuff or as much as they can on the plane. Business travelers like to do this to avoid the time it takes for baggage to be unloaded. With less overhead bin space and legroom (remember when you used to just put your bag under your seat?!) this causes nothing but problems. So what’s the solution? Stay home! But Aunt Rose and Grandma Iris are expecting us for Christmas or Hanukkah, right? So it comes down how much you can fit into one carry on bag. This keeps you traveling light and without fights. I remember my dad used to limit us to one bag even for road trips. And just like the airlines, we were not allowed to handle our own luggage. We deposited it beside the car trunk and after he sized up the situation he packed it all and we did not ‘visit’ our luggage until our destination!
Anyway, here are some tried and true strategies for efficient packing:
- Take the Cube approach. Use a cube style bag to compress as much as possible into a compact space. I like Eagle Creek’s Pack-it Cubes but there are cheaper versions of this, such as Travelwise Packing Cubes.
- Vacuum seal it. Use compression bags, such as Pack Mate, to such all the excess air out of the bag, which shrinks the size of the bag. Note: Don’t do this with items that easily wrinkle but you do know you shouldn’t pack clothing that wrinkles easily, right?
- Roll ’em. This is my favorite approach. Do not fold your clothes but roll them. This minimizes wrinkling and maximizes space.
The best advice is to invest in a good quality bag but make sure it complies with standard airline carry-on baggage size, which is 22 x 14 x 9 (although this could change at any time). Even if you’re traveling by car, train, bus, or ship you want to minimize your luggage so these are good packing tips regardless of your type of travel. If you pack light and pack right you can fit enough for up to a week in a carry on bag.