How to Pack in a Carry-On

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It may surprise you that I always pack in a carry-on. When I traveled to Cuba a few years ago I was given the heads up that it was important not to check luggage because the wait time at the airport for luggage could take hours. I didn’t want to spend hours waiting in the airport when I could be exploring so I challenged myself. I have been packing in a carry-on ever since.

P.S. You can get my Paris packing guide by the season here.

How to Pack in a Carry-On

Once you do it once, it gets easier. It can be a challenge depending on the time you are away. I have taken a two-week trip and that really challenged my packing skills. I have had to sit on my luggage a few times to close it. 🙂 What really helps me with packing and organization are packing cubes. Each cube holds a separate category to make it easy to find when unpacking.

packing cubes as part of a Pack in a Carry-On

Pack in a Carry-On for Winter Travels

When it comes to Winter travels, this can get tricky. Wear your heavy/largest boots on the plane. Pack light when it comes to other shoes. I have been skiing and packed in a carry-on so it can be done!

an open suitcase with content inside for how to Pack in a Carry-On

I have the larger Away carry-on in navy.

Also, I didn’t want to go with a bold color but also wanted to try something different than black. I love it! The phone charger is a great added feature when you are on the go.

suitcase in blue

If you are purchasing an Away bag, you can use this code for $20 off your first bag. This post is not sponsored, I just have this code from being a repeat customer.

Leather Toiletries Bags

When it comes to toiletries, I love these leather travel bags from Cuyana. I gifted them to myself years ago and I bring them on every trip big or small. The big one holds my skincare and the smaller one holds my makeup.

leather toiletries bags in black to Pack in a Carry-On

Hand Bag with Compartments

If you are headed for a weekend trip. I love a small bag with little compartments like this. It could be a train trip from Paris or a little getaway from your own city. This one Cuyana has a trolley pocket to slide onto a suitcase if you need it. I have a similar bag from Away that I love. I recently used it to see my family. There was a spot for my laptop and it is wide enough for my camera equipment, hard drive, and other essentials. I love that there is a small zipper pocket on the outside for a passport or sanitizer.

brown bag with compartments to Pack in a Carry-On

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  1. Sept Paris trip celebrating 50th wedding anniversary. Discovered site recently. Your info has been so helpful and very much appreciated. Curious how you best utilize Google Maps during daily excursions and planning. Getting acquainted with GM so that I’m comfortable using in Paris. Difficult to see much even on IPhone 13 Pro. Also, best way familiarize myself w/layout of arrondissements.

  2. I agree with your tips! I have the same away larger carry-on and weekender bag and love them both. I’m able to do weeks of travel (I do laundry) with only these.

    • Yes, laundry helps so much! I have the larger away carry on with me now. So far so good but even with a packing list, I forgot some things 🙂 I packed fairly quickly for Italy. But now there is room to buy a few things to bring home.

  3. Have used a carryon for years, even on a month-long trip. On an airplane, there always seems to be someone nearby who generously offers to help me put my bag in the baggage compartment or take it down for me.

    • Yes! I find I always wear the same pieces no matter what. It is helpful to have a washer if I am on a longer trip. But packing in a carry-on is ideal and you don’t bring back items you don’t need. I do love my skincare which makes it challenging coming home from Paris but I always make do.

  4. Do you know if the larger Away carry on will fit on international carriers (for example Air France)? Thank you-

    • Hi! I have brought it on all of my international travel and I have never had a problem. I would double-check the dimensions with your particular airline if you have any concerns.

  5. The main challenge for me with carryon is that I cannot lift it over my head if I pack what I need. I think I could actually pack one bag but then I am stuck. As it is, it is hard enough to pack two small 20-22 pound bags and hoist one over my head!