Posts Tagged 'how-to pack a carry-on'

How-To Share One Carry-On Bag

No one ever believes me when I say that my husband and I can fit everything we need for a week in one carry-on bag. So, after many requests we made a video of us packing for a trip lasting 7 days. In an age where airlines are up-charging for bags or how many bags you have (like on a budget airline) this will save you a lot of money, and time. Time saved is the best part of this whole endeavor. This is especially true if you have a connecting flight! Lost luggage sucks.

I’m sorry the video is so long, but hey, enough friends requested this so this is how we made it happen. And at least there are cats!

A few things that happened after the video was made; I snuck in another pair of shoes (flats), and on the way back I was given a pair of heels and another dress to take back home with me. We also fit in our flat iron because we have too much hair. Guess what, it all still fit! I can also tell you that I didn’t even wear two shirts and the lone skirt I brought. I had choices and still could manage to cram it all in. Oh, and that heavy compact of face powder? Totally dropped it on day 5 and it shattered — so I saved some room on the flight back.

I don’t know what crazy things people bring when I see them trying to push and pull over-packed suitcases in bins above or at the baggage claim, but I don’t want any part of it. I have not checked a bag since 1989!  So here are some pointers and a list of things we brought.

Get A Proper Piece of Luggage

Make sure it is the smallest one that fits guidelines for carry-on. Already right here, this is the subject where people get defensive and fight with me on what they NEED for a trip. I call bullshit. You don’t need half of what you think — especially if you are a lone traveler or it’s just two of you. Are you trotting around the globe doing hair and make-up? Are you a celebrity with a glam squad? Do you have 3 red carpet events and a dinner to attend? Are you traveling with a brood of toddlers who need all their stuffed animals? Are you doing a triathlon and then heading to a black tie wedding? My husband is a Masters division runner who travels for competitions — we still manage to fit his running gear in. Limit your space and you won’t over do it. Obviously if you are going to travel around South America for 3 months or something, this isn’t the how-to lesson for you. Although I bet Colin Wright might have something to say about that!

Pack the Night Before

And if you don’t have time to do that (but please make time) do it gradually in the days leading up to your trip. Make a list. Do laundry. Go to the travel section at the drug store and get things or get cosmetic samples from places like Sephora (I get shampoo/conditioner combos). Start pulling out what you know you will take. Leave the toiletry bag on your bathroom counter and start loading it up. Packing the day of is almost always guarantee of forgetting something — or throwing in everything you own.  And please, look at the weather of where you are going. I’ve seen gallery girls in black wool from New York in Miami in 100% humidity. They looked ridiculous and miserable.

Corners, Rolling, and Flat Lay

Shoes should go in first, should go in corners, and you should stuff crap into those shoes. Roll things into corners, stuff loose items into gaps between clothing or any other space you find. Some people roll all their clothes and then stack them in the luggage in a pyramid pattern so they don’t wrinkle but I prefer the flat method unless it is a certain kind of fabric. Underwear, bras, stockings and even t-shirts I do the old fashioned sink wash and hang dry if there’s no laundry available. If where you are going does not have an iron, turn on a hot shower in the bathroom and steam your clothes by hanging them on a rod that way.

Make the Most of Your Travel Clothing

Hey, I’ve actually been able to roll up a pair of leather knee-high boots and fit it into my bag, but that was when I was traveling with my own suitcase. If you are sharing, wear your bulky stuff on the plane, and this means the bulky shoes! “But I like to be comfortable” you say? Well I’m totally comfortable in cowboy boots or tall boots on a plane, and mister thinks his Chelsea boots do just fine. Wear your coat, your scarf, your suit — anything like that do it on the flight. Layer, dammit! My husband finally got a proper fitting suit and he says it is so comfortable he never minds wearing it on a plane. Don’t be a slob or dress like it’s nap time at a daycare.

I took one side of the suitcase. I wore leggings, a long shirt, a cardigan, cowboy boots, and a scarf with a raincoat (which later folded into the luggage). I packed:

  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 2 pairs of shoes + 1 pair of heels on the flight back
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 6 undies
  • 1 tank top (never wore it)
  • 1 skirt (never wore it)
  • 2 t-shirts (only wore one)
  • 3 dresses
  • 1 slip
  • bathing suit
  • accessories bag
  • portable charger
  • 2 huge cuff bracelets that weigh a ton
  • make-up bag nonsense

Mister wore jeans, boots, a t-shirt, a suit jacket, and packed:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • swim trunks
  • 2 dress shirts
  • 6 pairs of socks and undies
  • toiletry bag included mini deodorant, shave cream, 1 razor, brush cleaner wipes, make-up wipes, cleanser, hair cream, a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, nail scissors, a nail file, two combs, and a pillbox.
  • polaroid camera a film pack
  • flatiron

My purse which is large enough to fit a lot of stuff yet not too heavy had:

  • 1 charger we shared (yes this is possible)
  • iPod
  • large headphones
  • Kindle
  • My wallet with usual crap in it
  • lip gloss
  • iPhone

And here is errrythang after we packed up getting ready to head back home. This was more items than we brought! Plenty of room for whatever gifts or purchases you make on your trip.


For years I’ve had people ask me to teach a class or so whatever to show them how to not over-pack, but let’s face it, you probably aren’t going to do any of this stuff. I don’t think many people want to try. It’s like that show Hoarders where there’s always a family member or someone that says, “we’ve tried everything and we’re all out of ideas”, yeah you tried everything except cleaning the house! People panic or overthink it. You don’t need half that stuff you throw in there, and remember, you can buy things later if you do.

Really, I hope some of you do try it and see how easy it makes things. Not only for bag fees, but just avoiding the hellish bullcrap people deal with at airports in general thanks to Homeland Security, jerks who hold up the line with giant bags, waiting at baggage claim like a poor sap, and lost luggage.


Is That All You Brought?

A statement made often when I travel by everyone from my hosts, to cab drivers, to airport security, to fellow travelers. People can never believe how I manage to only bring a few items with me whether it be a trip for 2 days or 2 weeks.  I bring my purse, and my weekender bag (or in more recent times, a carry-on roller). That is all. Because everyone asks how I do it, I shall now share. They say packing is an art, I think it is a talent passed down to people genetically — or so I’ve heard.

I began packing light and doing carry-on only back when I was a kid, maybe 10 or so. My luggage was stolen in Moscow and all the valuable and sentimental things had been stolen. 3 days later it appeared back at the airport after thieves took just about everything — even my socks and underwear (which being that it was still the Soviet Union, things like that were coveted and expensive to come by). After that I vowed NEVER to check luggage again! And so, I learned to pack light, or rather, pack smart.

When people tell me “oh, gee I just tend to over pack” I say “No! You are a hoarder and a pack rat, poor at planning, and are what is wrong with society today! Stop.” I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, maybe it’s just that this is a skill not taught, or people always assume they need more than they really do.

This is my weekender bag. It is about the size of a bowling bag, from Ben Sherman, and because it looks sporty no one would ever try to steal it from you. I have managed to fit 3 pairs of shoes (always pack them into the corners), as well as my clothes, underwear, hairbrush, toiletries, and so forth in this thing — even a large kimono once! I always pick out clothes I can roll tightly, and stuff them in while making rows on top of one another; kind of like building a pyramid, but in any order will do. Anything big or bulky I make sure to actually wear when traveling: boots and coats being key. At some point when traveling, I always come across a plastic bag from shopping, and I used that as my dirty laundry bag from the return journey…

Last year for the first time, I had to travel by myself with my gimpy leg. Oh sure, the airport has those beep-beep cars and sometimes people will help when they see me carrying crap and hobbling around on a cane. Sometimes. In general, the TSA and flight crew could give a flying fuck if you are mildly handicapped, partly because so many people were faking it to cut in lines at TSA checkpoints, that they now just assume everyone is faking it. The only plus side is I always get an aisle seat. After attempting to carry my weekender by myself + purse + a cane, I said, “screw it, I’m getting the dreaded wheel luggage”. But hey, I got a pretty cute one that fits in overheard compartments, and is loud enough that no one could mistake it for theirs. I have to tell you, I just packed for a 6 day trip to NYC, including clothing and shoes enough for two fancy events, and back-up options if I change my mind, birthday gifts for a friend, and more: I only filled HALF of this thing…


This is my train case, or sometimes called a vanity case. I used to bring this puppy everywhere until 9/11. As you can see, it looks like something you would carry plutonium or chemical weapons in. Can you guess my lock combination? Anyways, I stopped carrying this after driving back from Canada; the border patrol was FREAKED OUT by this thing sitting on my lap, “What is that, why is it in your lap?” “Um, it’s a vanity case, and I keep my passport in here”. When I went to unlock it, the patrol guys nearly drew their guns and told me to open it slowly….

So, now I have downsized to a little zipper clutch for my make-up. As you can see it is much smaller. I’ve been using this red ostrich clutch for 10 years now and yes it fits all my brushes…

They key is bringing only what you’ll need and go minimalist if you can: one lipstick, one eye shadow compact, eyeliner, mascara (I have a mini travel size one) and dual powder/foundation with a brush built into the case, like this. I also have travel size hair products, and most importantly, dry shampoo! One big comb and one small is all I ever bring with me, thin and takes up little room. I always get trial sizes of Garnier Fructis or Aveda because it seems to not suck as bad as some of the other brands for haircare.  On occasion I bring real hairbrush, and always feel guilty even though it fits just fine.

travel size hair products

Getting travel or sample sizes of things like toothpaste is easy, but perfume, mascara and so forth are key; Sephora always has samples you can get when you order online, because who the hell wants to pack a huge thing of perfume? What, you don’t travel with perfume on hand?

For men and women, hair conditioner works as a great alternative to shave cream — better in fact — as even trial sizes of shaving cream is pretty darn bulky and can get sticky in no time. You can also buy a shave cream stick, which my husband loves.

I pack generic face wipes instead of my fancy cleansers from home, the thin package saves room. I buy trial sizes of Dermalogica products, and those last through many, many trips as well as at home! Oh, and something else quite handy? A travel sized lint roller! I’m always so thankful when I have one with me.

In closing, I can’t really tell you what to pack when it comes to clothing, that’s up to you; personally I’m in the habit of washing t-shirts and things in the sink, so I pack very few of those no matter how long the trip. I also have a silk scarf obsession, I always forget to wear them , but I pack them anyways.

Really all I can tell you, is do the opposite of what she does here.

Do this instead, if you can.

Just be sure to remember socks and underwear for how many days you’ll be gone. The one time my husband didn’t have me help him pack, he went on a trip and realized he was stuck without either!

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