If you’re braving the airport over the holidays, then listen up. Learning how to pack everything you need in to 1 carry-on bag will save you time, money, and lost-baggage-meltdowns. Trust me, I’m a college student with a boyfriend who lives in another state – I’ve logged more than a few hours at the airport. Just follow these 6 steps, and you’ll be zipping through the terminal faster than George Clooney in Up in the Air.
- Start with a good bag. Opt for a suitcase (read: NOT a duffle) with a rectilinear shape and wheels. Doing so will maximize the available packing space and increase your navigability, both of which are paramount. The typical maximum carry-on bag size is 22 x 16 x 10, but it can vary by airline, so double check.
- Consider the destination. Once you have your suitcase, think about your trip. Where are you going? What’s the weather forecast? Any special events to attend? Will you have access to a washing machine? Dry cleaning? A drugstore for any forgotten toiletries? Asking yourself these questions will help you prioritize – the fundamental rule in carry-on packing. A good rule of thumb for a one-week trip is to pack 3 upscale dinner outfits, a few daytime separates (leggings, jeans, 2 tops, 1 sweater, etc.), 1 set of gym clothes (including sneakers!), and a few accessories that work with everything. Oh and 7 pairs of underwear – that’s non-negotiable.
- Stick to a color scheme. Picking a color scheme – ie, spring vs. autumnal tones – guarantees the maximum outfit combinations with the fewest clashing permeations. This is scientific stuff, guys. Most importantly, picking and sticking to a color scheme enables you to bring fewer pairs of shoes. By the way, you’ll only have room for 3 pairs of shoes: heels, flats, and tennis shoes. So chose wisely.
- Roll it up. How you pack your clothes is just as important as deciding what to pack. Rolling is the best way to go! Rolled items take up less space in your suitcase and helps minimize wrinkling. Pack heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase, and place your lingerie bag, toiletries, hairdryer/flat iron/curling iron on top.
- Travel Size It. Thanks to sites like 3 Fl Oz. and and Ulta, and services like Birch Box, getting your favorite, can’t-live-without products in travel size is easier than ever. In case you’ve been living under a rock, you can only carry on 1 ziplock bag’s worth of liquids – all under 3 ounces each. If you have any questions about this, check out the TSA website, you don’t want to be that girl that gets stopped at security!
- Wear outerwear on the plane. It makes security a bit of hassle, but I always travel wearing a quilted vest, a field jacket, an overcoat, boots, and scarf. This way, I can have all of my favorite winter gear with me without having to sacrifice space in my suitcase. Bonus: Most planes have a separate storage space specifically devoted to hanging coats and fight attendants are happy to take them off your hands once you board the flight.
Now, all you have to do is sit back, order some in-flight cocktails and rack up those air miles.
For more how-to’s, check out how to score the items you want from the Target x Neiman Marcus collab and how to buy your guy a gift he wants.