How To Pack A Carry-On

Come November, we become full-on frequent flyers. Between weekend getaways and traveling for the holidays, it feels like we barely have time to unpack one duffel bag before we have to re-pack. We’ve got packing for extended trips down to a science, always keeping our travel essentials and in-air beauty products on hand. A quick trip, though? Much more challenging. We’re either running out of room or forgetting essentials at home. Consult our hacks below for the best ways to maximize space in a duffel or weekender bag; because traveling light shouldn’t mean leaving all your favorite things at home.

1. Pack no more than two pairs of shoes. They’re heavy, bulky, and take up way too much space in your bag. We say go with one pair of heels and one pair of flats. If you must pack sneakers, opt for soft wool or mesh-based ones, like Allbirds or Nike Free’s. On the topic of shoes – wear winter boots on the plane/train/drive to save even more space.

2. Be a lightweight; avoid packing bulky and heavy clothes. We know it’s hard in winter when sweaters are our top choice, but pack thin, neutral cardigans (or thinner sweaters) to pair with long sleeve tee’s (for warmth) and tanks (for options).

3. Pack a plastic bag for laundry. Trust us, it’s worth the small amount of space to pack a plastic bag for dirty clothes. It makes re-packing a breeze and keeps your still-clean clothes smell-free.

4. For a weekend, you really only need one pair of pajamas. Try upgrading your daily giant t-shirt and leggings combo for a silk set; they’ll pack easily and are more smell resistant, meaning you can get multiple wears in while saving space!

5. Rolling your clothes actually saves space, especially for layering basics.

6. Fold your underwear as small as possible, then tuck into your packed shoes.

7. Invest in a foldable blowdryer. Hotel blowdryers are frequently unreliable and can fry your hair, but packing your full-size dryer is a waste of space. We like the amika blow dryer; it even comes in rose gold.

8. We have Jill Martin to thank for this genius layering strategy:

  • Bottom: Shoes/heavy items
  • Foundation: Rolled clothes
  • Second layer: Folded pants/ dresses
  • Third layer: Sweaters and folded shirts
  • Top layer: Crushable items (aka toiletries, bras/underwear, bathing suits, blowdryer, etc)

Click here for tastemaker packing lists from Zanna Roberts Rassi and Anine Bing