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24th Mar 2023

10 tips from a packing pro on travelling with just carry-on luggage

Fiona Frawley

packing tips carry on luggage

If you’re planning a trip away soon and can’t be dealing with the cost of checking on luggage, listen up.

When it comes to packing, there are two types of people. Those who have it down to a fine art, packing multi-functional items of clothing that match with everything and have never had to know the struggle of a burst bottle of travel-size shampoo, and those who break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of getting their suitcase down from the attic.

If you fall into the second camp (like myself), don’t despair. Packing expert and owner of Dust and Rock Susan Furniss-Radley is here to help, and has shared 10 of her top tips for travelling with just carry on luggage.

1.    Plan a rough outfit itinerary before you go

If you know what you’ll be doing each day, you’ll know how many outfits you’ll need for nights out, how many days you’ll spend on the beach, how much walking etc.

2.    Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes

Shoes are the things to take up the most space in your case so stick to one or two pairs of shoes. Wear your bulky ones on the plane and slip the smaller pair in your case.

Packing tip number 2: don’t go overboard with the shoes. Image via Dust and Rock

3.    Get the largest lightweight case allowable

Rules vary between airlines so double check what size allowance you have. While rolling cases are easier if your bag is heavier, backpacks are often much easier to transport over cobblestones and place into overhead lockers.

4.     Bring a bag in a bag

Alongside your main piece of luggage bring a large tote that doubles as an airport and beach bag. Inside this bag, pop a slim cross-body bag. This is your everyday bag for your trip.

5.    Pack versatile items

Choose layering items and co-ords; all your tops and bottoms should work together giving you max number of options. Day outfits can be transformed to evening appropriate with accessories. Go with neutral colours or a monochrome palette.

6.     Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are a lifesaver when you’re using hand luggage only. You can squish so much more into each cube and keeps everything organised. 
Packing cubes are your friends for short trips! Image via Dust and Rock 

7.    Bring an extension cable

Eliminate multiple adaptors and charge your phone, Kindle and use a hair straightener at the same time.

8.    Do a mini wash

A fabric refresh is often enough for some items after being worn. A sink and some hotel soap are absolutely fine. Choose lightweight fabrics such as silk, which will dry quickly, and take up less space in your bag.

9.    Roll everything

Rolled-up clothes take up less space. Lay out two or three pieces on top of each other on your bed and roll tightly from one end, squeezing air and wrinkles out as you go. Pop them in your packing cubes as you go.

packing tips carry on luggage

Roll up, roll up. Image via Dust and Rock 

10.   Use the hotel toiletries

We all have our favourite toiletries but in pursuit of the smug carry-on lifestyle, this is the time to use the ones provided by the hotel. You’ll save vital space.
Make the most of the amenities. Image via Shutterstock 
Susan is the owner of small business Dust and Rock, which provides fashionable and functional products to make travelling easier, including their travel cubes and pocket tote bags.