How to pack for one-week vacation with a carry-on

Search and categories
Publication date28.01.2020

“Do you see how cheap it is for us to get to [inset amazing location here]!”

Most of us have had that moment. The problem comes when you realize you’re only allowed a single piece of carryon luggage. You want to spend your money on an adventure, not on more luggage so you stick with it.

Just like that your trip faces its first challenge: pack wrong and you could ruin the whole thing. Pack right and you’ll go down in history as a packing champion (okay, maybe only your own personal travel history but that’s pretty good too!)

Here’s what you need to do.

Check your carryon requirements

Whether you’re taking a plane, bus, or train, there will be limitations to the size and weight of your luggage. One of the biggest ways to avoid headaches and expensive fines is to check these from the start and make sure you follow them.

You may think “oh I can get away with this, they won’t check” but here’s what that leads to: anxiety and wondering whether they’ll discover you and then (most likely) a hefty fine. Compare that to the peace of mind that comes when you know for certain that you’re in the limitations. Remember, it’s a vacation, don’t add stress by “living on the edge”.

Roll, roll roll!

If you’ve dismissed the idea that rolling your clothes makes packing more efficient, hear me out. As a former clothes rolling skeptic I understand. But here’s the thing, it works. Rolling shirts, pants, underwear, etc. makes your packing tighter and more space-efficient.

Here’s a quick tutorial video so you can see what I mean.

This technique lets you fit more in, and more easily see all of your clothing options at a glance. Plus, it will make you feel like a real packing pro and if that isn’t a life goal I don’t know what is.

Pack, then be ruthless

Overpacking is easy, but even if you tend towards overpacking, there are still good ways to reduce it all. I generally start by packing everything I think I need or just want to take. That first step gives me a good idea of how far from my goal I really am.

At that point I start getting ruthless, looking at each item and thinking to myself “will I really need/use this where I’m going?” It’s a kind of Marie Kondo style technique without the “thank yous” at the end.

If you go item by item and reduce until what you have fits within your weight/space requirements, you can be confident you have the right things you’ll actually use at the end.

If you have trouble with this, try imagining yourself at the start of each day of your trip. Think about the day and what you’ll need to have for it. Be practical and realistic and you’ll have that suitcase reasonably-filled in no time.

Invest in decent luggage

Here’s a secret: I can almost guarantee the heaviest single thing in your luggage is… your luggage. The suitcase itself can easily weigh a few kilos. Getting a quality lightweight piece of luggage (bonus points if it’s convenient to move around with) makes all the difference.

Remember when I said “don’t add stress”. This is another example. Trying to get through a trip with cheap, heavy, or busted luggage is just another reason to not enjoy that trip you so desperately need. 

Choose the right way to travel

Ultimately, low-cost flights are just always going to have crushingly limited luggage options. One way to get around that is to skip the flight and try traveling by bus. You’ll almost always have a more generous luggage allowance that will let you relax and get on with your trip.

Plus, you’d be surprised how often a bus or train is faster than a plane once you take into account the time you’ll need to spend getting to and at the airport. Think of it as a holistic view of travel, how much time does it actually take to get through security?

Take my advice and always choose low-stress options from how you’re traveling to the luggage you’re using. Your future vacationing self will thank you for it.

Pack your suitcase and

Publication date13.11.2019
  • Nomago advice