Packin' heat. Or a suitcase. Whatever.

Today I am going to give you guys some travel tips. Specifically in the area of packing your suitcase. Maybe everyone knows this already, but no one I know IRL seems to, so I thought it might help someone else out there, too.


Around here, my friends have started taking notice of my "packing method." You see, I hate checking bags on flights. Especially now that it costs money. But I tried to avoid it even when it was free. I guess I just had a deep, dark fear of the airlines losing my bags. *Knock on wood* it's never happened to me, but who wants to be on a dream vacation in a foreign country with just the clothes on their back? NOT THIS GIRL!

So in order to avoid lost bags and save money, I do all in my power to travel with only carry-ons. I've traveled to Europe for 2 weeks taking just a duffle bag and my purse. I went to Turkey with just a carry-on. Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean... just the standard carry-on and a personal item. When Josh travels to Malaysia or Costa Rica for a week or two for work, I pack his bags and he doesn't check a thing either.

For example:

I posted this picture last December before we left for our 10-day trip to Las Vegas to run a half marathon, then flew straight to Jamaica. In these two bags I had winter stuff (because it was December), running stuff (for the half marathon) and summer stuff (for Jamaica)... 10 days and 2 weather climates worth of stuff.

Okay so some people may argue that that is not that impressive. The majority of that stuff was for Jamaica, so it was summer stuff... and let's face it, summer stuff does not take up as much space.

Okay, valid point. I guess.

But I will tell you this: I took the exact same two bags when I went to Alaska.

Eight days in the cold, snowy, wintery goodness that is Alaska! My packing list included (but was not limited to): a winter coat, scarves, hats, gloves, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters, pants, jeans, tennis shoes, boots, fleece jackets, dressy clothes for dinner, running stuff (so I could pretend to exercise on vacation), plus toiletries, my cameras, etc.. and more! I heard the key to dressing in Alaska was layers and I had a TON. And I did not check a bag.

And I even pride myself on being an over-packer... I think I packed 5 or so thick sweaters that I never even wore in Alaska. What can I say? I like to be prepared and have options.

It's standard on most airlines (all airlines maybe? all that I've been on, but I'm sure there may be some exceptions...) that you can bring 1 small carry-on bag/suitcase and 1 personal item onto the plane. So I bring my small suitcase that fits the size requirements for a carry-on and the tote bag as my personal item, as seen above.

So how do I do it?

First of all, I try to pack smart. I try to pick out things I can wear more than once or mix and match to create several outfits out of a few pieces of clothing. In Alaska for example, I took 2 pairs of jeans to alternate wearing on the excursions and 1 pair of jeans to wear to dinner and around the ship (plus I also had the pair of jeans that I wore on the plane.) This way, the pair of jeans that I wore on an excursion one day could get wet or dirty, then they could dry out the next day, and I still had a separate pair to wear around the ship at night to dinner, etc.

Second, I'm not a very high maintenance person.
-- I don't travel with a hair dryer or straightener. Most hotel rooms and cruise ships have hair dryers, and I don't need my straightener bad enough to lug it around the world. This alone saves me a lot of space!
-- I'd rather have more options of shirts than shoes... I only took 3 pairs of shoes to Alaska (running shoes, comfortable shoes for excursions, and boots) and I probably could have done with just two. If we're going to a tropical locale, I can get by with a pair of black flip flops and a pair brown ones. Sometimes I'll throw in navy blue for good measure and maybe a pair of heels, but I don't pack a pair of shoes that perfectly coordinates for each and every outfit (black goes with everything, right?) or anything else. When we were on our flight to Vegas, I kid you not, we sat by a girl on the plane who was only going for the weekend and she checked an entire suitcase just for shoes. I'm a girl, I like shoes, but really?

And the biggest, most important (I think) thing I do is -- I roll everything! My friends called it Lynn's Roll-Up Method. I don't know how or why, but this seems to be the trick. Somehow rolling everything seems to save space.


This was [most of] my loot for Arizona. I ended up adding about 3 more shirts, just to have more options ;)

Our trip to Arizona was only 3 days, so this is not my most impressive pack! The award for that would have to go to Alaska. I actually had a good amount of space left in my suitcase this time, but I will share anyway so you can see how to do it!

Here is my suitcase:

As you can see, it's nothing fancy. It doesn't even have an inside pocket for your undies like most suitcases do. It was given to me several years ago when I lived in TN by a lady I nannied for. She gave it to me because the zipper was broken. It still is.

Here it is with a Lola inside so you can kind of judge how big it actually is:

When packing, I start with the biggest stuff first (jeans, jackets, sweaters). Roll them. And put them on the bottom. Then shirts, leggings, pajamas, whatever is left. Under garments, socks, etc. go on top. Or in your undies pocket if your suitcase has one.


Then shoes go on the very top. I usually try to wear the biggest, most bulky pair of shoes on the plane to save space in the suitcase.


This usually pretty much fills up my suitcase.

Then, in my tote bag, the first thing I put in there is my purse. Remember, you can only have 1 suitcase/carry-on bag and 1 personal item. So my purse goes in the tote, otherwise I'd have 3 carry-on items. My toiletry bag, camera, and electronic chargers go in there as well. Then anything that didn't fit in my suitcase... another pair of shoes, a jacket, hats, whatever.. Even if I don't really need the tote bag (like for Arizona, I probably could have gotten by just taking my purse and the suitcase) I still take it for the extra space for any souvenirs I want to bring home!! ;)

So that is pretty much it! Pack smart and ROLL. For some reason I think rolling takes up less space. Plus, I've noticed it produces less wrinkles in the clothes than the traditional folding :)

Try it on your next trip -- save money and peace of mind over possible lost bags!

You're welcome! And Happy Hump Day!
Lynntravel7 Comments