Packing tips to avoid checking a bag on a plane

Whether I’m packing for a weekend or a one-week trip, I’m a carry-on girl through and through when it comes to plane travel. I like the convenience of avoiding baggage claim and always having my luggage with me so that I can easily grab from the overhead bin and take to my destination. And as an added bonus, when may bag is smaller I am forced to bring fewer items and focus just on what I actually need. For years I was using large rolling suitcases for every flight, but I found myself packing extra items just to fill up the space (why bring 3 shirts when I could fit 12?).

Earlier this summer I went on a trip to the west coast where I knew that I would be needing multiple outfits per day (leisure, business, and evening), and I’ve learned over the years some tips that keep my carry-on policy in tacts, despite a packed schedule and varying plans/dress codes. I am headed on multiple trips this over the next couple of months by land and air, and for each one I am only taking a carry-on.

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HOW TO PACK FOR A TRIP IN A CARRY-ON BAG

  • Select a weight and style that you can keep up with. Travel days can be long and space is more than likely tight (whether you’re going by car or plane), so I lean towards luggage options that are a good shape and size that I can easily manage. This weekender tote from Lo and Sons checks all the boxes for me: it’s lightweight yet sturdy (and comfortable) enough to schlep everything I need, and it has compartments for shoes and zippered compartments to keep essentials separated. Win-win-win!

  • Create a packing list. I don’t know about you, but I rely on lists to reference in every aspect of my life and the same goes for when I’m packing. I have found it helpful to have a base packing list for every trip that you go on that includes your “must haves”, and then adapt as needed depending on the climate or activities that you will be doing on your trip.

  • Let the forecast and schedule dictate the options. Even though you may have been hoping to finally get to wear your new sleeveless dress and heels, if it’s not appropriate for the type of trip you are going on—and the expected temperature—then leave those options for another trip.

Rachel and Company - Lo and Sons - Packing Tips - www.rachel-company.com
  • Be realistic. Those “what if” impulse items that get stuffed into you bag (you know, just in case the weather changes last minute) will just weigh down your bag and take up room that could be used to hold something you actually need.

  • Mix and match. Try on your full outfits (yes, even the shoes and accessories) so that you aren’t over-packing and to reduce the guesswork (or failed outfit attempts) during your travels. And remember: you don’t need nearly as many options as you may think! Pack exactly the amount of items that you need then throw in a versatile extra (like a top) in the off chance that something goes awry with your planned choices. Want to make the most out of your options? Choose one color family (black, brown, grey) and pack versatile pieces that you can mix and match. Same goes for your handbag options. I really love this versatile bag from Lo + Sons since it can be worn 4 different ways—making it easy to switch up the style depending on what’s appropriate for what I am doing or wearing.

I'd love to know: Are you headed on any fun trips in the near future? Let me know where you're going in the comments section below!


This post is in partnership with Lo and Sons. All opinions are my own. Read my disclosure policy for more info.