How to Pack for a Trip in a Carry-On

*A quick note on this post: We wrote this blog post back at the beginning of the year with intentions to share in early spring. But then covid-19 changed the world and we didn't feel right sharing it then. As some communities have slowly reopened over the past few months, people are starting to travel again. We're sharing this now for those who may be taking close trips to visit family or friends, and to save as a resource as it becomes safer to resume exploring and adventures. We'd like to encourage anyone considering travel to be thoughtful in your planning and safe in your actions.*

Travel is at the heart of Yireh. And we definitely advocate for everyone to do what works best for them when traveling - whether you’re a maximalist and perhaps a bit of an overpacker like Emily or more a minimalist packer like Erika. Whichever way you lean, there will always be times when traveling with just a carry-on is valuable, so today we’re going to walk you through it step by step.

  1. Create a mini capsule wardrobe - Pull out all the clothes you’d like to bring and begin piecing together outfits. Consider the weather conditions and the activities you’ll be doing - as well as the photos you’re taking. We understand that memory keeping can be a big deal! You want to be comfortable + confident. (A good rule of thumb for a capsule wardrobe like this is the 1-2-3-4-5-6 rule: 1 hat, 2 pairs of shoes, 3 bottoms, 4 tops, 5 pairs of socks, and 6 pairs of underwear. Adjust it to your own needs!)
  2. Use travel cubes - Once you’ve narrowed down your packing list, use packing cubes. Even better if they are compression cubes! When I’m traveling with my family, I like to assign cubes to each person, but on my own I pack the cubes based on type of clothes to make it easy to get dressed. (Example: All bottoms and tops in one cube, dresses and jumpsuits in another, underwear and socks in another, and one cube each for toiletries and electronics.) I like to fold my clothes, rather than roll. And when packing my cubes into my bag, it definitely is a bit of a tetris game! Play around with the organization - keeping in mind to stash things you need accessible to be at the top - until everything fits snugly and it is comfortable to carry the bag.
  3. Pack an extra backpack or duffle for overflow - If you plan to accumulate some more things along the way (clothes, souvenirs, etc.) then it’s a good idea to pack an empty bag that later you can use as your “personal item.” 
  4. Weigh and measure your bag - As airlines become increasingly strict with their fees and policies, make sure your bag is in accordance with the particular airline you’re flying. Although we knew our bag was the right size, we never thought to weigh our carry-on since it wasn’t standard practice...until we were leaving Spain and our bag was a good 15kg over the limit and we had to pay to check it last minute.

A lot of packing for a trip seems like common sense, but sometimes when you’re packing it can feel a lot more complicated and tricky! Take a few deep breaths, put on some music, and get focused. Make decisions and rest easy knowing you’ll be traveling light very soon!

What are your best tips for traveling light? Drop them below in the comments to share.

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