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How To Fit Everything Into A Carry-On, According To 18 Millennial Travelers

If you've ever sat on top of your suitcase in order to zip it up, or packed for a trip and thought, "I need a bigger bag," you're not alone. There are plenty of other travelers in your shoes who have admittedly squeezed their belongings into a gigantic suitcase, lugged it through the airport, and then wondered how to fit everything into a carry-on.

Because, clearly, it's possible. Thanks to the well-traveled people zipping around the gates and security lines, you know this fact for sure and have big dreams of one day packing your own carry-on bag. You dream about what it's going to be like to skip the area where you usually check your bags, and not have an attendant say, "Would you like to pay for your overweight luggage?" You imagine what it's going to be like to see all the signs for baggage claim after a hefty flight across the globe, as well, and know you don't have to make a pit-stop.

What you might not realize is that "one day" can be sooner rather than later. Like those travelers you see casually grabbing sandwiches before their flights with zero worries in the world, you can be hanging in the airport with your belongings in hand and life at ease. These 18 millennial travelers shared their best tips so you can get started. Here's how to fit everything you need for a trip into a carry-on.

1. Roll Your Clothes To Create More Space

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Roll. Your. Clothes! I can't tell you how much space this has saved for me. I'm sure I've been able to double what I can fit in my carry-on by rolling.

— Tina, 27

2. Get Packing Cubes For Organizational Bliss

Travel cubes! I sort everything in my travel cubes, and it helps to not only fit all of your clothes, but also organizes your luggage. It’s especially helpful if you’re hopping from destination to destination because you can sort your clothes accordingly, and only take out what you need from your suitcase.

— Micaela, 24

3. Maximize Space By Putting Smaller Items Into Larger Ones

Packing everything into a carry-on bag is always a struggle. I find that rolling your clothes and packing them vertically in rows helps save valuable space. I also pack my socks into my shoes, toothbrushes and toothpaste into reusable water bottles which you can then use the water bottles for water during your day excursions while walking around.

— Angela, 24

4. Wear Your Heaviest Items On The Plane

Since the plane usually is colder, wearing your heavier items like jackets can help lighten the load of your suitcase. And the best piece of advice is to pack clothes that can layer.

— Anonymous

5. Think Twice About What Tech You Actually Need

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Many people bring their laptops or iPads with them. I get wanting content to watch in travel, and the “just in case” mentality. But rarely if ever have I “needed” a device other than my phone. Leave it at home.
A battery pack is a better option, to make sure your phone has juice. For people with cameras, always bring two batteries. But lens wise, you really only need your stock lens. You don’t need a telephoto lens on vacation. Phones have so many apps now, you can edit photos on the go.

— Anonymous

6. Utilize Your Bag's Features And Pack Less

To help fit everything in my carry-on bag, I utilize space bags for my clothes. This helps me pack a lot more in less space. Packing cubes are also super useful. They keep items like makeup, jewelry, and hair accessories organized so it’s easier to find them, and the cubes fit into the suitcase nicely.
I also utilize the built-in straps to buckle everything in securely so there’s less shifting during travel. You need less than you think. Pack smart!

—Alissa, 24

7. Packing Cubes Are The Way, People

Packing cubes! I swear by these and love how they keep things organized in your carry-on bag, especially on work trips.

— Anonymous

8. Don't Be Afraid To Get Creative On-The-Go

You have to utilize every space in your carry-on bag. If you can fill sock and shoes with jewelry, or your phone charger, do it!

— Anonymous

9. Plan Your Outfits Ahead Of Time So You Don't Overpack

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I find making outfits with the same items of clothing can be really beneficial. See what you can mix and match before putting it in your carry-on bag to make the most of your space!

— Justine, 25

10. Bring Key Clothing Items That Can Be Reworn

Roll your clothes, wear your bulkiest clothing on the plane (including shoes), and pack a capsule wardrobe so you can re-wear stuff as much as possible.

— Julie

11. Two Words: Packing Cubes

PACKING CUBES ARE A GIRL’S BESTIE.

— Jess

12. Stop, Drop, And Roll Your Clothes

Roll the clothes!

— Heather

13. Follow Your Itinerary When You're Packing And Prep A Backpack

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My biggest thing to make sure everything fits is to plan out what I’m doing before I get there so I have a general idea of what I’m going to need to wear each day.
I’m the queen of overpacking, so planning things out really helps. Narrowing down the number of shoes I bring helps too. Whenever I go someplace that I’m bringing only a carry-on, I’ll end up wearing everything besides my one extra outfit I bring for a just in case situation. And then I always use a backpack as my personal item under my seat to get even more room!

— Lisa

14. Stick With The Thin Items, And Ditch The Thick Ones

Use vacuum seal bags and pack thin layers as opposed to bulky things!

— Camille

15. Invest In A Quality Carry-On Suitcase Or Bag

Get an Away suitcase. It fits it all and is a breeze in the airport.

— Anonymous

16. Minimize The Amount Of Shoes You Bring

I usually abide by the roll method for packing clothes to save space. Also, just packing smartly so things can be re-worn and pieces are interchangeable. Not going overboard with shoes is key, too, because those can get bulky fast.

— Sarah, 24

17. Wear What's Going To Take Up The Most Space

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Wearing layers on the plane, for sure! Whatever's going to take up the most space, wear it.

— Anonymous

18. Simplify First, Add To Your Carry-On Later

Try and simplify! This always helps me when packing. I think about what I absolutely need, then if I have space, I can add some extra items. Some items I can’t live without in my carry-on: a reusable water bottle, protein bars, disinfectant wipes, face masks, and a good book.

— Julianna

Some responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.