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On the eve of my trip to Scotland, it seems a great time to share tips for traveling with a carry on. This is my third international trip in which I’ll live out of a carry on for 10 or more days. I learned on my first trip to Scotland in 2014 that lugging a large suitcase around was not the best idea. Vowing to do better, I discovered the benefits of traveling light.
If 10 days with a carry on seems impossible, read on!
Plan, Practice, Pack
These are some of my favorite tips for traveling with a carry on, when preparing for an extended trip. I’ll be in Scotland for 11 days. I’m traveling with a carry on and a purse.
Planning for this trip began a year ago. I can’t speak highly enough of my travel agent, Ken, with GalaxSea Cruises & Tours. Ken and I sat down together last year and put together a phenomenal package that saved my sister Debbie and me money.
We are staying in an apartment in the center of Edinburgh, close to everything that we want to experience. The location is important as it is near the hotel where Debbie and I will meet with other members of Clan Maitland a few days after we arrive. An apartment is preferred over a hotel room because of its full kitchen. I can cook part of the time and prepare my own plant based meals.
Whether planning your own trip or working with a travel agent, know what your needs are and prioritize them. High on my list…an apartment with a kitchen in a specified area.
Be aware of any events going on that might impact travel. We learned that an international rugby competition is going on in Edinburgh while we are there. The Fringe Festival begins August 1. These events draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Edinburgh, limiting accommodations in July and raising rates. That info prompted us to create travel plans much earlier than we normally would, ensuring a place to stay at a great rate.
Using a weather app, add your destination and begin watching the weather. This helps with packing appropriate clothing. Scotland is cool and rainy, even in summer. Today’s high was 65 degrees with a low of 52. Long sleeves and a jacket are essentials.
Create a list of all the items to pack in your carry on.
I’m excited to try out these travel supplements, from Voke.
I find it helpful to do a practice run…or two…packing my carry on. I had to toss my last carry on, after an incident on an escalator. My daughter Elissa loaned me a hard-sided carry on to try out. I’m glad I practiced packing several days ago, because this carry on is very different from the soft-sided piece I owned before.
My first thought was “I can’t make this work!” This carry on seems much smaller due to the suitcase being divided into a clothing compartment and a laptop one. However, after a practice packing session, I found I could fill the computer side with clothes and other items, since I’m not traveling with my laptop.
I’ve tried rolling clothes, and that worked well with my last carry on. With less depth in this carry on, I used Marie Kondo’s folding technique to create small, flat rectangles with my clothing. Success! Try both methods and see which works best for your carry on.
Eliminate clothes that you don’t need. Most people pack too many clothes. Practicing makes it real. You can see what’s most important to take and what’s nonessential. My practice pack helped me to cut down on the number of shirts, socks and underwear and settle on one jacket. Since we have a washer and dryer in the apartment, we can wash clothes while in Edinburgh. That helps greatly.
And try on ALL the clothes you intend to take. Make sure they still fit and that they are in good repair. If you don’t like an outfit for any reason, don’t waste space taking it. Create multiple outfits from a small capsule wardrobe to maximize space.
Tonight I completed packing, for real. I only need to add a couple of toiletries in the morning, after getting ready. After my practice pack, tonight went smoothly and I feel confident about the clothes I’m taking.
Fold or roll each article of clothing to make it as small as possible.
Don’t waste any space. I tuck underwear into shoes and fill in empty spots with socks and supplements. Fill pockets in the carry on with toiletries, small items such as jewelry and thin documents or books.
Speaking of supplements, I travel with vitamin B12, to keep my energy up. And I take along MSM and Cat’s Claw to keep inflammation at bay in my left knee. Be mindful of your health while you travel. Carry prescriptions in their bottles with your name and doctor’s name on them.
All containers of liquids and gels MUST be 3.4 ounces or smaller and MUST be in a clear quart size zip lock bag. Keep this bag in an easily accessed part of your carry on, as it is placed outside luggage as you go through security. You are allowed one zip lock bag. (See TSA rules for carry ons.)
Keep travel docs handy as well. I placed mine in a pocket in the laptop compartment. I used the airlines app to precheck and have an online boarding pass ready to go, on my phone.
Be sure to pack phone chargers, earbuds, sunglasses and a journal. I’m including a rechargeable battery pack so I can charge up my phone while out for the day.
Wear your bulkiest articles of clothing on the flight. Tomorrow I’ll be wearing jeans, a short sleeved shirt and boots. Smaller, easier to pack shoes and slacks are in the carry on. I save space by carrying a jacket over my arm and toting a large plaid wrap as well. The wrap will double as a blanket on the flight.
Extra Tips for Traveling with a Carry On
If souvenirs are important, leave space for them in your carry on.
It’s okay to take an empty metal water bottle through security. Carry it rather than pack it. After passing through security you can fill the bottle for use on the plane.
Make sure family members have your travel itinerary. Keep your copy in your carry on.
Arrive at the airport approximately two hours before your flight boards.
Never leave your carry on unattended.
Keep your passport handy. I have mine in my purse, rather than in my carry on.
Make sure you’ve added an international phone plan and contact your bank prior to leaving, if you will be using a bank debit or credit card.
Most importantly, have fun! Travel is a wonderful way to expand the mind, heart and soul. Create memories. Try something new. Get lost at least once. Talk to people on the plane, the bus, the train, and at the café. Follow curiosity.
Do you have favorite tips for traveling with a carry on? I’d love to see them in the comments.
My next post will be from Edinburgh, Scotland! I can’t wait to share my trip with you.
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33 Replies to “Tips for Traveling with a Carry On”
Wow so impressed! I am an overpacker! I am working on this and slowly getting better! I went to Paris for 5 days last year and my suit case weighed 70 pounds…yep. Granted it was in the fall so it was very cold but still…
I learned from my first international trip. I hurt my back lugging around a huge suitcase! I decided I had to do something different.
These are clever tips!
Thank you for reading!
These are great tips and make me want to travel! I love Marie Kondo, she has great ideas that I would never think of on my own. Such an inspiration to be able to travel and enjoy your trip while packing light and having less to worry about.
Marie is so inspiring! Yes that’s it exactly. Packing light, worrying less!
This is a great post, very helpful! I used to travel with a big bag but then I learned how to travel light from my husband, what a difference!
It makes an incredible difference!
I either overpack or underpack, never in between. Lol. I love the idea of a trial run! Maybe that’s what I was missing.
A practice run always helps me adjust!
You are a master packer!!
Thank you! I continue to learn!
I love the tip about researching events that are going on while you’re there. That’s a great way to make sure you DON’T miss out on anything interesting, and also helpful if you wish to AVOID any big crowds!
I love the planning aspects of travel. It’s a way to connect ahead of time with where I am going.
Wonderful take on travel diaries. Your tips are really very important, I have made a note of a few of them
Thank you! I hope they are helpful. 😊
Great information! This is how we travel and it saves so much time not having to wait for bags!
Yes! I love that. And no worries about losing my luggage.
10 days of travel with nothing more than a carry on does seem impossible but you make it sound easy. Rolling your clothes is a good place to start and I always try to do that, but you mention other things I hadn’t thought of before, but plan to try on my next trip!
Awesome! I hope these tips are helpful!
These are great tips. I’m taking a 2 week trip to Europe in December and hope to fit everything in a carry-on/backpack.
You can do it! I spent 12 days in Italy with only a carry on and no laundry facilities. I could have gone a couple of more days!
I always wait until the night before to pack, what a nightmare!
I’ve done that before too…and pulled an all nighter!
Clever tips.. Time to pack my things smart
Thanks for reading!
Very good tips, Cindy. I’ve always been packing light and I travel frequently. Less to carry, less to remember, less to lose. Enjoy your time in Scotland! #senisal
Yes! I love traveling light for those reasons.
I love reading and watching how others can pack with just a carry on. Its amazing to me….my carry on is filled with medications so this is just an impossible feat for me. However, I think a lot of people should have just a carry on if they can. I have learnt though to pack my checked in luggage as light as I possibly can by others tips on packing. rolling is def one of them. I must check out Marie Kondo and how she folds…before our next trip. I have followed your blog as well to learn more and see your travels. #SeniSal
Thank you Bree! I’m going to check out your blog now!
Thank you! Rolling works well too. With my current carry on folding Marie Kondo style seemed to be better. I enjoy reading your blog. UnfortunatelyI can’t leave comments on WordPress .com sites. It won’t accept my password for some reason.
I think I could do this now, but it’s taken years of practice! Great tips Cindi and I must admit that having washing facilities is a great help when travelling. #Senisal
It’s very helpful indeed!