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How to fit a week’s worth of clothes in a carry-on

With the airfares going up and some airlines charging almost $50 to check one bag, more and more people are finding creative ways to stuff a week’s worth of clothes into just a carry-on.

Woman with overstuffed luggage

Instead of balling up all your outfits or standing on your suitcase to shut it, check out these packing tips that will make packing light a little easier!

For a woman, fitting a week’s worth of dresses, pants, tops, shoes, hair products, makeup and purses into a large suitcase is hard enough; the thought of putting all that into a smaller one is just insane. However, with airlines charging more and more for checked baggage, it’s time to condense and stuff smartly. Because you’d much rather spend that $50 on drinks at the airport or a fancy meal wherever you’re vacationing, right?

listMake a “must have” list

This may seem like extra work, but in the end, it’ll save you time and space in your bag! Travel guru Joanne V. Lichten advises to make a detailed list on where you’re going and what necessities you have to travel with. Begin your list with things you can’t travel without, like cellphone, wallet, passport, underwear, bra, basic outfit (pants, shirt, shoes). Then, move into things you’ll need for a certain occasion, like a fancy dinner or business meeting. If you plan on just lounging around the rest of your trip, pack a few pieces you can wear more than once, like a bathing suit, shorts, a jersey dress. By sticking to your list, you’ll end up with more space in your bag for things you buy there and less stuff you know you’ll never wear.

Pack double duty items

What does double duty mean? It’s really just a fun way to say something that can serve a few purposes. For example, those colored skinny jeans you love to wear brunching and shopping can also work for a fancy dinner when paired with a blazer, dressy blouse and heels. Those heels you are going to wear to the fancy dinner can also double as your business meeting shoes if they are sensible enough. That jersey dress you wear as a bathing suit cover-up or to yoga can also double as an easy sightseeing outfit or even a dress for dinner when paired with that same blazer and jewelry. Pack clothes, shoes and accessories that can be worn for multiple occasions to keep your bag light and still have plenty of options.

Also take advantage of multi-tasking beauty products so you don’t take up too much space with toiletries. Keep in mind though, that all liquids must be in 3-ounce bottles or smaller and fit into a Ziploc bag.

Invest in space bags

If you’re still having trouble shutting your carry-on, despite your best ability, maybe it’s time to invest in some space bags! These airtight, vacuum-sealed, waterproof bags can hold your entire suitcase worth of clothing and take up half the space. For example, one large-size space bag can hold up to 10 chunky sweaters and take up the space that two of them would in a suitcase. Not only do these give you three times the amount of storage, they are easy to use even if you don’t have a vacuum. The only problem with these bags is they wrinkle your clothing.

Limit shoes

Are you a shoe fiend with hundreds of pairs stacked in your closet? You may have to let go of your precious strappy sandals and heels for this trip if you want to save time and money. One pair of dress shoes adds about 1-1/2 pounds of weight to your bag! If you can, try to limit yourself to three pairs of shoes, including the ones you wear to the airport. If you can’t stand the thought of wearing the same exact pair of shoes every day, dress up the ones you brought with shoe clips or ribbons. These small accessories don’t take up any space and allow you some variety with your wardrobe!

Take advantage of your personal bag

Don’t think you have to fit every single piece of clothing, accessory or electronic into your carry-on. Remember, airlines do allow you one personal bag! Take full advantage of that and bring a larger bag, tote or briefcase! The how-to website, How Stuff Works, suggests packing some of the heavier items in your personal bag to save space for additional clothing, shoes or toiletries, but also to make your suitcase lighter to lift.

If you are still not sure how and what to pack in your carry-on, check out this informative checklist by Cindy McClelland, who is the owner of a travel store in Boulder, Colorado, and who traveled an entire year-and-a-half with just one carry-on!

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