Carry-On Packing Tips

It appears that some airlines have begun to redefine the term “hand luggage,” merging it with “carry-on baggage.” On recent flights with easyJet, I was surprised at the gate to learn that hand luggage and carry-on baggage were now one and the same (something that, considering consistent past experience with the two separate terms, was not made clear enough in the luggage regulation guidelines). I had to cram my full purse into my backpack, and fill all of my coat pockets, and strip down in the middle of the airport to add clothing layers, because there was no way I was paying the price of another ticket to take my “surplus” luggage. I will not be nickel and dimed by you, easyJet!

These kinds of airline tricks can actually be a blessing in disguise, I suppose, because it forces you to pack only the things you absolutely need. Unless I’m literally moving to another country, I never check luggage– it’s an extra step at the airport, and it’s liberating to be able to just get off a plane and go.

Traveling unencumbered by STUFF is refreshing. Despite my light luggage, I rarely find, even on longer trips, that I wish I’d packed something I didn’t. Here are some essential packing tips for my fellow low-maintenance travelers:

1)   Wear one pair of jeans, pack one pair of jeans.

2)   Wear one shirt, pack three season-appropriate everyday shirts and one nice shirt for going out on the town.

3)   Pack socks and underwear.

4)   Wear an undershirt or camisole, an over-layer such as a sweatshirt, sweater, or cardigan, and a jacket (unless you’re going somewhere tropical or summery).

5)   Pack flip flops for hostel showers.

6)   Wear sneakers/good walking shoes, pack one pair of going-out/dress shoes (for women, choose nice flats if you can, since they take up less space and are less awkward to fit into a bag than heels, which are Satan’s foot-wreckers anyway).

7)   Pack any necessary chargers and adapters.

8)   Pack, in a smaller bag that fits into the larger bag, a wallet, passport, phone, medications, and any book or headphones you might use on the plane. This smaller bag can be what you carry around on your daily wanderings.

9)   Pack a camera.

10) Pack a small plastic bag for dirty laundry.

11) Pack a small bag for toiletries and makeup, if you wear any.

This is really all I ever need, and it fits easily in one backpack (not even the intense hiking kind of backpack, just the backpack I used to carry my schoolbooks in). I have a few friends who’ve asked me how I can possibly fit all I need for a long trip in there. Ladies, I’m looking at you on this one, because I don’t often come across dudes who are similarly mystified. I am a lady who packs light, and know several other ladies who do the same. However, many of my lady friends can barely manage two suitcases for a long weekend. You do not need your hair dryer. You do not need your hair straightener. You do not need three pairs of shoes. I know it’s not all your fault– us gals are under extra pressure to look a certain way at all times and it requires equipment, but let’s try not to fulfill a stereotype anyway. When we overpack, I’m afraid this is what we look and feel like:


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