Carry-On Packing Tips for the Chronic Overpacker


| My name is Jennifer and I am a chronic over-packer.

Whether for work or pleasure, traveling is one of my favorite activities. It is the gateway to the world, new experiences and personal growth and when I land in a new city, I cannot wait to hit the ground running. Even in the face of jet lag, give me a strong quad shot and I’m off to my first meeting or exploration activities. So with that in mind, I avoid checked baggage at all costs. I find the 20 minute waiting period at the baggage carousel to be a waste of time. In the scheme of a trip, 20 minutes may not seem like much, but of the 19 work-only trips I took in 2018, that would be 760 minutes (waiting for bags once each way) spent watching a revolving silver belt spin round and round. And because I do not want to spend nearly 13 hours this year waiting on my baggage, I have learned the art of efficient carry-on packing.

Call it a control problem, call it boy-scout levels of preparedness, but if I know I’m going to be sleeping in a bed that is not my own, I’d prefer to pack my entire house. Packing that extra skirt, an alternative shirt for this look or that, bringing that extra pair of heels that I know good and well I will not have time to wear always leads to the infamous suitcase sit and zip to make everything fit. It’s a cute anecdotal story until you are hustling through Charlotte-Douglas and your suitcase zipper rips 2 minutes before the final boarding call. Believe me, it’s not a good look. So in today’s post, I wanted to share with you my top tips for mastering the art of packing the carry-on.

Invest in Decent Luggage | I struggled with this one for the longest time because the price of luggage always seemed outrageous to me. But when I think of the amount of money I have wasted replacing inexpensive/crappy luggage, I could have easily purchased one better quality set. Certain luggage has features that can help you pack (zippered compartments, clothing restraints, external pockets) and they can make the world of difference. Good luggage does not have to cost you a kidney, and I prefer to purchase name brands from shops like Nordstrom Rack, where you can find Delsey, Calpak, Samsonite and the like for heavily discounted prices. Linked some of my favorite carry-ons below.

Packing cubes are your best friend | I did not understand the magic that is the packing cube until I recently ordered this $23 set from Amazon. These inexpensive sets of nylon bags hold a surprising amount of items and increase organization tenfold. Blazers, dress pants, dresses and dress shirts in one cube with t-shirts, undies and socks in another makes this so much easier when faced with changing clothes in airport bathrooms (I do this more times than I’m willing to admit) or when unpacking after checking into the hotel. Packing shoes in separate bags keeps the rest of my clothing from getting dirty, and also provides a tetris-like fit within the suitcase itself so everything has it’s place. Also, many are water repellent, so you do not have to worry about your favorite lotion, cream or liquid ruining the rest of your clothing during the overhead jostling. With the help of packing cubes, I have managed to pack 6 days worth of work and leisure outfits, complete with cardigans and shoe changes in a carry on. Game. Changer.


Roll, Don’t Fold | I was always under the impression that flatter, folded luggage was the easiest and most efficient way to fit as much into my suitcase as possible. Nope. Wrong. Incorrect. Rolling my non-bulky clothing has proven to give me more space and extra ability. I often roll inside my packing cubes as well for extra space savings and organization. Bulkier items like heavy knit sweaters and certain jackets are excluded from this, as they tend to take up much more space when rolled, but for nearly everything else, pants, skirts and jeans included, rolling is the way to go.

Use the 3 Basics and a Statement Rule | When I pack for a trip, the outfit rule I try to follow is the three basics plus a statement rule. Most every outfit consists of 4 pieces (top, bottom, shoes, jacket/coat/scarf/hat/accessory) and when planning outfits (another must-know tip), I only allow myself to pick one statement for that look. This cuts down on how many single-outfit items I pack. I start with foundation pieces such as a grey skirt suit (blazer+jacket), a classic pair of black or nude heels, and a statement top. I can wear each of the rest of the pieces again, and only the blouse is tossed into my laundry bag. See what I mean? Same can be applied to casual outfits.

It’s so easy to want to stuff your suitcase to the brim, knowing good and well you will run out of days and occasions to wear even half of it. But when time is precious, or you are packing for an extended stay, sticking to a carry-on does not have to mean you sacrifice your wardrobe. I hope you found these tips helpful and I would love to know what your favorite packing trips may be!


Travel Loudly. Love Loudly. Live Loudly.