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4 Hacks For Packing Your Carry-On Like A Pro

Whether you’re traveling locally, internationally, or visiting home for the holiday, knowing how to pack your carry-on luggage optimally is a must. Packing only the essentials is a great way to fit everything into your carry-on. Doing this can save you space and money. Keep yourself from becoming one of the airport lost-luggage horror stories by traveling light.

Besides, packing well lets you travel comfortably and gets you through airport security smoothly. Remember to pack what you need only.

Here are four hacks for packing your carry-on like a pro:

  • Understand what’s allowed in a carry-on

Being stopped by airport security and having some personal items confiscated from your bag while you stand there and watch can be frustrating. Keep in mind that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulates what’s allowed and not allowed on airlines to protect passengers and staff. In 2021 alone, the TSA confiscated a record-breaking number of 5,700 firearms from passengers. (1)

Items that can’t be packed in a carry-on include loaded firearms, ammunition, weapons, sharp objects, harmful chemicals, flammable liquids, or anything that could be considered a potential threat to the lives of anyone on board. Things that can be in a carry-on include medication (with certain exceptions), disposable razors, aerosol cans 3.4 ounces or less, and solid food. Electronic vape devices can be included in a carry-on but can’t be used during the flight, as explained in this vape traveling guide. (2)

  • Stick to size limits

The benefit of carry-on luggage is that you get to keep important personal items with you at all times. However, restrictions are placed on how big and heavy your carry-on can be. These restrictions ensure that your bag, including everyone else’s, will be able to fit safely and securely on the plane. Major airlines like Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest don’t have strict weight restrictions. However, smaller airplanes may cap the weight, so checking their site beforehand is advisable. The standard size for a carry-on bag is 22” x 14” x 9”. Ensuring that your carry-on fits the size and weight restrictions beforehand can save you a lot of hassle once you reach the airport. (3)

  • Pack smart 

How you pack your bag can have a noticeable impact on how much you’re able to fit inside. Clever packing may help you make use of all the space you’ve got available. These are a few of the tools and techniques you can utilize to pack efficiently:

  • Roll your clothes to save space: Instead of folding your clothes, try rolling them to save space. Tightly rolled clothes often take up less space than folded clothes. Rolling works best for light garments such as T-shirts and swimsuits. If you have to fold your clothes, try folding multiple similar clothing items together. (4)
  • Use packing cubes: Packing cubes are an excellent way to keep related items together and keep things from falling around. They also act as extra protection for valuable or fragile items.
  • Pack heavy things at the bottom: Unless it’s at risk of breaking under pressure, it’s a good idea to pack heavy stuff at the bottom of your bag. This technique helps the bag stay upright and prevents heavy things from weighing down on lighter items. 
  • Fill up your shoes: Shoes often take up lots of space in a carry-on. Still, you can use the space inside shoes to carry small items. For example, you can stuff them with your socks.
  • Choose your clothes wisely: The clothes you pack need to be appropriate for the weather at your destination, but that’s not all to consider. If possible, pack clothes that are quick to wash and dry, versatile, and breathable. It’ll make your outfits reusable, meaning that you’ll be able to get by packing fewer clothes and making space for other essentials.
  • Use a reliable bag: Bags have different features and divide space differently. Choose a bag capable of accommodating your packing needs. Remember to stick to the carry-on size limit.

  • Pack what you need

One of the keys to getting everything to fit in your carry-on is to pack only what you need. Creating a checklist of essentials and marking where each item is packed can save you worry later. Aside from clothes and shoes, these are some essentials to consider with every carry-on.

  • Passport/ID: Don’t forget the essential documents needed for your flight. It’s a good idea to keep a certified copy of your passport with you and back home with someone you trust. It may be helpful in emergencies.
  • Credit card/ATM card: You should always keep these cards with you. The last thing you want is for it to be lost with checked luggage.
  • Cash: Keep a comfortable amount of cash on your person. You don’t need to convert it all at once, but emergency cash is essential on any trip.
  • Essential medication: Much like your cards and cash, any important medication is another thing that could be problematic to lose. 
  • Electronics and valuables: Phones, cameras, laptops, jewelry, and other valuables are best kept with you.
  • Charging cables and adapters: These are especially useful on long flights when you’re relying on your devices for entertainment purposes. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to have an appropriate socket adapter for your destination.
  • Personal hygiene products: Toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, lip balm, etc. It’s always a good idea to keep these products on you during your flight.


Mastering carry-on packing is essential for any traveler. Knowing how to pack like a pro is a great asset, especially if you like going on trips. Traveling light means less hassle and reducing luggage expenses. Following these four hacks will help you pack your carry-on like a trained professional. Pack smart, remember your checklist, and enjoy your trip!


  1. “TSA has confiscated record number of guns at airports in 2021”, Source: TSA has confiscated record number of guns at airports in 2021 – ABC News (
  2. “What Can I Bring?”, Source: What Can I Bring? | Transportation Security Administration (
  3. “Airline Carry-on Luggage Size Restrictions: What You Need To Know”, Source: A Carry-on Luggage Size Guide by Airline | Travel + Leisure (
  4. “Folding, rolling, or packing cubes: What’s the best way to pack a suitcase?”, Source: Folding, rolling or packing cubes: What’s the best way to pack a suitcase? – CNET