Traveling and Packing Light Starts with Finding the Best Carry-On Luggage.
Do you want to travel more, pack light and fly with carry-on luggage only? Before shopping for new carry-on luggage do your research. Start with checking the carry-on policies of the airlines you frequently fly. Check the policies of each airline website individually or use a site like Seat Guru for research.
Select a bag that rolls easily and is comfortable to carry through the airport and lift into the overhead. My Antler Spinner glides effortlessly glides through the airport. If you’ve never owned a four-wheeler, I suggest you give one a try.
Vintage pieces can be quite stylish. They usually need to be carried in hand so opt for one small enough to be your personal item and that can be put on top of your wheelie for effortless travel through the airport. Always try to have one hand free to hold your coffee.
After you think you’ve found the perfect bag, take it home, DON’T REMOVE the tags. You want to make sure the bag will work for you so pack the bag like you’re going on a 5-day vacation. You don’t need to pack the exact items you will pack. Pack a fair representation of what you would typically take with you on vacation or business trip.
Selecting Carry-On Luggage
If you can answer yes to these basic questions, then it’s a keeper, you can confidentially remove those tags.
Can you fit everything inside?
Can you lift the bag over your head?
Is the bag sturdy enough just in case all the overheads are filled, and you need to check it at the gate?
Can you put your personal item comfortable on top of the luggage and not have it flop all over the place?
If you travel with your laptop, can the luggage be used as a table?
Airline Carry On Luggage Requirements
Here’s the current carry-on restriction for the two airlines I fly most.
Jet Blue – Carry-on bag must not exceed 22″ L (55.88 cm) x 14″ W (35.56 cm) x 9″ H (22.86 cm), including wheels/handles, on all our aircraft types.
To fit under the seat, all personal items must not exceed 17″ L (43.2 centimeters) x 13″ W (33 centimeters) x 8″ H (20.32 centimeters) on all of our aircraft types
American Airlines – Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 33 x 23 centimeters (including handles and wheels)
Your personal item must fit under the seat in front of you. Dimensions should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 centimeters).
Links to other popular domestic airline carry-on policies
My Travel and Pack Light Gear
The three pieces of luggage I find indispensable are my Kipling 24 x 15 x 10 for those times that I’ll check luggage or for a fun road trip by car. I use the Antler Camden hard shell 21 x 14 x 9, and a 17” travel satchel made by Sole Society for standard plane travel. I still have a 32-inch suitcase that I use for storage in my closet, and that suitcase went on so many trips with me that I can’t bear to get rid of it. You might not believe me now, but at some point, you may also become emotionally attached to a piece of luggage, so select with care.
Since I mostly fly JetBlue, I selected a carry-on that was slightly smaller than allowable on Jet Blue. I’ll never worry about size restrictions and my bag won’t get too heavy unless I’ve packed in full of winter boots and cashmere sweaters! When traveling solo, I make sure I can lift my luggage over my head. Lifting my bag into the overhead when it weighs 50 pounds just isn’t as easy as it once was. Flight Attendants are not required to assist, if your bag is too heavy you’ll be at the mercy of a kind stranger. As a traveler we need to be mindful of our limitations and if you can’t lift your bag then better to just check it.
My Satchel goes on just about every trip with me, its fits nicely under the seat and I fill it with all my plane paraphernalia, electronics and things to make my trip comfortable.
What’s inside my satchel?
- Prada Cosmetics Bag
- Flight 001 Liquids Bag
- Zippered Pouch with (noise canceling earbuds, adapters and cords for iPhone, iPad and Mac Air, Mophie back up battery)
- Small medicine bag(moleskin, travel scissors, band-aids, alcohol wipes, small tube of travel Advil, Melatonin, low dose aspirin, Benadryl allergy (just in case), individual clothes detergent packet
- Clutch Purse with eyeglasses, sunglasses, wallet, keys, and travel documents.
- iPhone, iPad, Mac Air ( if it’s a short flight 3 hours or less I usually pack my laptop in my carry on.
- Large lightweight Scarf
If I’m checking my luggage (rarely), I would also keep a change of clothes and P.J.’s in my travel satchel. I learned my lesson when I was stuck in Amsterdam overnight due to a missed connecting flight. All I had with me, was my purse and Airline issued toothbrush, not very pleasant of an experience. My coat was packed in my luggage so I couldn’t even venture outside without freezing my tush off.
My Travel and Pack Light Packing List
This part took me several tries but finally got it together. I would inevitably bring too many clothes and shoes, half of it I never wore. I was afflicted with a severe case of “just in case” syndrome. You know who we are, you’re packing and thinking that, hum, just in case we go out to a five-star restaurant I’ll need my strappy sandals and a cocktail dress.
On a couple of my trips, I carefully planned out several outfits and listed each item in my Trip List app. As I wore an article of clothing, I checked off the little box next to it. I quickly saw a pattern, I am a comfy dresser, given the opportunity I’d instead wear a beautiful pair of ballet flats than those strappy stilettos. I have a bit of a shoe obsession and tend to take way too many pairs, most of which never see the pavement.
What’s in my suitcase?
For a Summer Las Vegas weekend, packing for a girl’s trip is so easy. For this type of trip, I’ll take my Antler carry-on and a large tote or my weekender to accommodate any shopping I might do.
- Ballet flats – J.Crew Gemma flat in Black
- Flat Sandal – MIA strappy gold sandal
- Low heel walking open toe – Korks
- Jersey dress- sleeveless
- A-line black jersey skirt
- Jeans- ankle jeans
- White T-shirt
- Black T-shirt
- Cardigan – blue for a pop of color
- Casino purse – small to fit money, id and room key.
One and I’ll repeat it just ONE “just in case” piece. A girl does, after all, need to be somewhat prepared for the unexpected.
The above list takes me from shopping to the blackjack table, and then dinner at a nice restaurant. The clothes you bring must be in good shape and the best quality fabric you can afford. I prefer neutral colors in my everyday wardrobe and find this fits nicely with my minimalist wardrobe choices.
With a little practice, you soon will be on your way to packing perfection!