how to pack your carry-on.

Earlier this year, I felt like I lived on a plane. We were in the thick of wedding season and I rarely unpacked my carry-on bag. As I prep for my first plane ride in a few months, I realized I should think long and hard about keeping that carry-on manageable. There is truly nothing worse than walking off a plane with sore shoulders! If you can swing checking your suitcase, these tips will simplify your ride in a serious way.

Pare down your make-up bag. I know you're thinking that a make-up bag is definitely not the bulk of your carry-on, but hear me out. Unless you're going straight from the airport to the club, you don't need  an eyelash curler or your palette for your smoky eye. Get down to the barebones (i.e. what you'd need if you weren't reunited with your checked bag for a day or two). 

Make friends with the staff at your favorite make-up counter. Places like Nordstrom often have samples of the products you use all the time. When I purchase my Clarins moisturizer and cleanser, I always ask for a travel-sized sample. It never hurts to ask!

Leave your laptop at home. I know I have bold plans of blogging while on vacation, but let's face it: it is vacation. If you're looking for the easiest way to lighten your load (literally and figuratively), this is your best move. Your smartphone works wonders these days ;) Stepping away from the computer isn't always a bad thing. You'll also save yourself loads of effort in the security line...

Pack a Hanky Panky (a.k.a. a discreet pair of underwear). I don't think I have to go in-depth to explain this one, but believe me, if you need a pair, there is nothing worse than knowing they're under the plane and you're in your seat. One pair would add virtually no weight to your bag, but the peace of mind is priceless.

Don't bring your entire library with you. If you're lucky enough to have some sort of electronic reader, this point is moot for you. If you're not, consider how much time you'll actually have to read on the plane. If you have an hour flight, you won't need three books! Books are best left for your suitcase. If you must, you can make your suitcase your traveling library. (Trust me here: Growing up, I was the girl with the crazy large backpack--stuffed to the brim with books and schoolwork. My shoulders got a daily work-out.)

Be a big girl: leave your crazy large purse at home. Ok, ok. Your massive purse can often help you circumvent the "one carry-on and one personal item" rule. I pushed the limits (to the max) during my college years. As a somewhat frequent flyer, I can tell you this: nothing annoys me more than a woman with a huge tote as a "purse" and another large carry-on. When I said you should pare down your make-up bag, the same applies for your purse. You don't need all your rewards cards, ten cases of mints and four lipglosses. Most of the time, I pack a small purse (sans valuables) in my suitcase and put my wallet in my carry-on. One bag is so much easier to manage than two.

What other tips would you add to the mix? I could go on for another ten paragraphs, but I'll leave it at that. I've learned a lot over the years (especially when {cv} and I were long distance), so I hope these takeaways help you save your shoulders and back the next time you fly! I can't wait to see your travel chic Friday's Fancies :) Follow along with our girls' weekend via Instagram--we land in Jamaica tomorrow! xoxo {av}


  1. I am packing a carry on tonight! Good tips!


  2. I love these tips! I usually always carry an extra pair of underwear in a ziplock bag in my purse (you never know when you'll need them!) but definitely carry a spare pair when I'm traveling, and socks! Even if I wear a pair on the plane it's nice to know I have an extra pair.
    I've definitely been guilty of the huge bag + one other carry on rule. I've cut down alot, only bringing my tablet, phone, wallet and some little extra stuff (that fit in a regular sized purse). It makes it so much quicker to get on and off the plane with just a purse. Plus they don't ask you to gate check it!

    carelessly graceful

  3. I usually try to pack everything in a carry-on because the airline has lost my luggage one too many times! These tips are still applicable though, especially only bringing the makeup you actually need. I have so much makeup and have to make a point to only bring the necessities when I travel!


  4. Excellent reminders, Alison! Will consider these on my trip this weekend! xoxo JUGsBoston

  5. I'm definitely the person with a roller and a tote Alison! The roller is my camera bag and my tote is my clothes. (And overflow gear!) I'd check a bag, but I would have two rollers. I feel like a jerk when I do it but I have no choice.

    My tip is that I use a plastic ziplock to hold Chapstick, pens and a snack - so all small items go in there and it's not floating in my bag.

  6. I'm always such a bag lady when I get on planes, but I always wish I had packed less so it isn't such a struggle. These tips are really great though!


  7. I always find myself bringing my whole makeup bag in my carryon because I am scared they will break in flight. Nothing worse than crumbled eye makeup! I also always bring a blanket - however that certainly does not help lighten the load haha!

  8. I'm an overzelous "I'm going to get a lot done on the flight" packer. Laptop, cameras, books, notebooks, magazines. You would think I was packing for a year long wait other bulky things are shoes. Now I wear my running shoes on the plane and pack ballet flats (perfect for almost anything) in my carry on.

  9. I love these tips-- especially because I've been traveling more and more lately for work. I always like to travel with a pair of socks because my feet always freeze on the plane. And I am a sucker for always packing my laptop because I feel naked without it. I did upgrade to a Macbook Air last week though and it's amazing how much lighter it is. I tend to only carry on my purse and then check my other bag. Traveling with only a person is so simple.... and I find it's worth the $25 checked bag fee.

  10. Thank you! I cannot tell you how much I need help with packing. I am one of "those girls."

  11. Put those little cotton rounds inside compacts, blush, eyeshadow palettes, etc. before traveling. It will keep them from cracking or just dusting all over the place when you open them (especially if you bite the bullet and check them). Awesome tips, Allison! I recommend keeping a toothbrush (or mouth rinse) and a pashmina nearby for the trip. There is something comforting about a clean mouth and a comfy blankie-like item when you're frazzled from traveling...and the pashmina can double as a scarf with a nice suit, or wrapped over your shoulders for date night in a new city. :)

  12. I always wear a scarf (light cotton material) and it doubles so well as a mini blanket/pillow/something to cover your nose when the person across from you throws up! I also pack toothbrush, toothpaste & a mini face wash (for international traveling!). I loved Jamaica when I went-it was truly the most beautiful place! Enjoy yourself!

    Majda |

  13. Keep your chargers with you. One time my phone died and I had to wait for my luggage to arrive before I could call my ride. Unfortunately my luggage got lost, so it created a lot of stress that wasn't necessary. Now I carry every important charger with me, just incase my luggage is lost.