How to Pack Your Carry-On for a Weekend Getaway

Just say no to the extra pair of whatever.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

So you’re going away for the weekend and are forced to pack lightly to follow today’s airline rules. Unless you want to check your luggage, which usually requires a fee, you’re limited to one carry-on and one personal item.

And with strict dimensions set for your carry-on—22 x 14 x 9 inches on American, United and Delta Airlines—you don’t have a lot to work with: You have to fold, stuff, and squeeze everything you need into a bag the size of a briefcase. You must be prepared to leave certain items behind.

Obviously, you want to take only essentials—it’s always a bummer to come back from a trip and realize you didn’t wear half of the clothes you packed, brought too many reading options for the flight, or packed a bulky hair dryer that you didn’t need.

Everyone has different things that they can’t live without on a trip. For some, toiletries take up the most space in a suitcase. For others, it is shoes. Yes, you think you want options, but they will weigh you down. It could force you to check your bag if it’s unable to fit or is too heavy to lift into the overhead bin.

Here are some tips on how to efficiently pack what’s the most important to you in one carry-on suitcase:

  1. Put shoes on the bottom.
  2. Lay clothing flat to guarantee less wrinkles.
  3. Bring fewer cosmetics and toiletries than you need and in small sizes. You can always buy things at a drugstore, too.
  4. If you have a makeup routine, downsize it to the essentials (foundation, mascara, done). Or bring multi-functional makeup (BB cream, cream blush).
  5. Plan your outfits. If you don’t like planning ahead, limit yourself to three outfit choices for the two days. Pack neutral-colored clothing so you can mix and layer pieces.
  6. Wear your travel clothes on the way there and back. Make it comfy.
  7. Use your other plane-approved item (purse or backpack) as a last-resort place to put extra things.