From an Overpacker to a Carry-On Lover (If I Can Do It, So Can YOU!)

woman wearing backpack and pulling carryon luggage in airport

Traveling doesnt have to be complicated.

While I love to travel and frequently do, Im not sure why it has taken me so long to come to my most recent revelation. Carry on luggage is the best way to go when packing up, heading to the airport, and traveling to a new place.

I was a notorious overpacker and always checked my bag (or bags!) before my flight even when my trips were only a couple of days. Yes, I had a major issue with packing way too many clothes that took up space and never got worn.

On top of paying for the check bag fee, I always ran the risk of having to pay the extra cost if my bag weighed over the allotted amount. Not to mention the risk of having my bag lost in transit and having to wait a few days to receive itor not receive it at all!

So to be able to now say that I can pack clothing for a week in a little carry on bag, well gets me a wee bit excited. If youre interested, you can listen to me ramble about my excitement by clicking the audio button below.

woman holding carry on luggage and bookbag on sidewalk

After really thinking about the cost of checking bags and even the time it takes (especially at large airports that tend to have crazy lines), I started thinking about carrying on my luggage more and more. How could I minimize my packing and truly make this work? I researched the best carry-on luggage, and how I could nail down no longer being an over-packer.

Im so stoked to have successfully completed carrying on my luggage a few times now even for week-long trips!

Its so freeing to not pack nearly as much as I used to and only have the appropriate pieces before a trip (pieces that I will actually wear!). Here are some of my favorite carry-on benefits along with tips and tricks of how I do it. And trust me, if I can do this, so can you!

1. No waiting before and after your flight.

airport stores and hallway with various lights and signs for departures

Every time I get to the airport now with my carry on, I wave hello and goodbye to the check-in counter! Its probably my favorite part about carrying on my luggage.

Not only do we all now have the ability to check-in for our flights online (or on the airlines app) and get mobile boarding tickets right on our phones, but when you only have a carry-on, you have the luxury to just walk right past that super long line. It feels pretty amazing to be able to walk in the airport and literally go straight to security.

2. It saves you money.

man getting cash out of wallet

Checking a bag these days can get pretty costly depending on what airline youre flying with. However, most airlines will let you carry-on for free or for a lower-cost than checking!

Hip Tip:Check out these vacation budget hacks that will get you all the best deals on your next trip!

3. Forces you to not be an over-packer.


Plan your outfits! I literally used to just throw in my favorite clothes, not think about it at all, and bring so much stuff that I never even wore. Plus, I was spending more time, while on vacation, trying to figure out what to wear each day not exactly how I want to spend my vaca time.

Its so freeing to already have your outfits picked out for the trip.

I also really enjoy staying at Airbnbs that have a washer and dryer so I can do laundry while Im away. This allows me to wear staple pieces two or three times during a trip if I need to! I highly recommend staying at a place with laundry as it makes it so much easier to pack way less.

Bringing travel-sized stuff for personal care items and using packing cubes are another huge space saver. And if youre not too picky and are staying at a hotel (or possible a house that supplies these), you dont even need to bring shampoo, conditioner, or soaps since they have all of that for you!

Also, when packing, keep in mind that to get through security at the airport liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on luggage must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:

  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
  • 1 bag per passenger

Want more tips?! Check out these 11 simple travel packing tips from an ex-overpacker!

4. No lost luggage.

three suitcases luggage in overhead compartment on airplane

If youve ever experienced losing your luggage while on a trip, you know how terrible it is! The last thing anyone wants to do when getting to their destination is having to scramble to buy new clothes, personal care items, etc. Not to mention, its extremely costly until you get reimbursed (and thats if you even get full reimbursement for your belongings).

If you opt to carry on instead, the only thing that can pose as a possible issue is if you forget to grab your bag when getting off the plane. When youre not used to getting your bag from the overhead compartment, you could potentially lose it (which I have done before , but thankfully realized pretty quickly and was able to have someone get it off the plane for me!).

Here are my 2 current favorite travel items:

person in airport holding gray bookbag and carry on sized luggage

Even better, Nordstrom Rack currently has my exact same luggage priced at just $69.97!

I love my IT luggage! They even claim to be the most light-weight luggage ever. Im not totally sure if thats 100% true or not, but this luggage really is super light-weight and its amazingly easy to maneuver around the airport, pushes so easy, and it fits in the over-head compartment perfectly!

I typically ditch my purse for any trip and carry my Leke Sky backpack with my wallet, laptop, snacks, etc I use it all the time, even when Im not traveling. Its high-quality, it has tons of compartments, a laptop sleeve, and its just super affordable and cute! Between the two of these items, traveling is now so easy!

woman with bun and backpack pulling wheeled luggage in airport

Hip Tip:Here are other highly-rated carry-on luggage options that we love.

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