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Beginners Guide: How to Pack for a Week in a Carry-On

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Pack Week Carry-OnRealistically there are times a carry on just won’t work, like going on a cruise or going to a location that requires a big mix of casual and dressy, but overall a one week’s packing can easily fit into a carry on bag in most cases. With the cost of checking luggage and TSA regulations today, packing efficiently can save you both time and money.

Many people stress over packing and getting ready. I don’t. The earliest I pack may be the night before I’m leaving if I’m leaving early in the morning. If leaving later in the day, chances are I don’t start until the same day. Once you get into a system for your packing it really does become an easy task.

There are several steps you can take that will make packing much easier when the time comes. I travel often and rarely take anything other than a carry on suitcase and my computer bag. Because I travel often, my frequent flyer account allows me to check one bag free but I still choose not to in order to save time when I arrive at my destination. I choose not to risk having my bag lost or damaged. I like to be in control of my own belongings and time upon arrival. Be sure you know the regulations for carry-ons. Most airlines allow one carry-on suitcase and one personal item (i.e., purse, computer bag).

Pack Week Carry-On

I have one pair of sneakers/tennis shoes that I use strictly for travel. One pair in a solid color that matches everything. If I am going to a place like WDW, that’s it – one pair. I wear them when I leave home, I wear them every day while away. Never a need to bring additional shoes. If I will be traveling to a different type of location – two pairs of shoes maximum and wear the bulkier pair on the plane while traveling.  If you don’t normally wear sneakers or casual-athletic style shoes everyday, it’s time to start.

I personally am not a fan of zip lock bags for packing. If all the air isn’t taken out – all the way – it creates wasted space. You can do a much better job without using them. The only exception I make to this is toiletries. If the toiletries you take are in a zip lock they are easily accessible if you need to open your bag for TSA.

Ladies – don’t carry the shampoo you “just have to use” or the face creams or conditioners. Every decent hotels gives you shampoo, conditioner, body wash, facial soap. Use what they give you. I promise your face won’t fall apart in 4 or 5 days! Your full make-up bag can stay home. Use a smaller version and only include what you have to have.

Bring lessThis is not at all as difficult as you may think. Choose outfits you can mix and match and/or layer. Have one casual sweater or light jacket that will go with every outfit and wear it on the plane. For trips that may require something dressy ~ I have one basic black dress that can be casual or dressy depending on how I accessorize. I can add a light colorful sweater for a casual look or add a scarf or jewelry to dress it up. A pair of black ballet style shoes roll into a pocket of your suitcase. If bringing jeans, choose the ones that can be worn twice.

Lay out everything you think you will need and then put half of it away. And remember, dirty clothing never fits in as good as cleaning clothing does – it’s one of the great travel mysteries of the world – so extra room for re-packing and shopping is a must!

Roll your clothes. Rolled-up clothing fits neatly and compactly. You can secure some of the bulkier items with a rubber band after they are rolled. Rolled clothing also wrinkles less. Roll everything you have set aside to take first, then start placing them in your carry-on, longest items first.

I don’t use my everyday large purse when I travel. I usually take a smaller cross body bag that gets packed empty in my suitcase. Use your computer bag or if using one, your large purse to your advantage. My computer bag usually also includes my smaller version make-up bag, all the charging cords needed for phone and computer, travel documents, medications, wallet, comb (many of the items that will then go into my small cross-body purse when I reach my destination), as well as a few snacks.

Remember, unless you will be visiting a third world country, chances are if you forget something really really important, you’ll be able to get what you need when you get there.

Happy travels!

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