It’s time to call an Uber, head to the airport, and take to the skies! Before you can go on that business trip or dream vacation, however, you need to first get your bags all packed up and ready to go.

You might be dreading this part, but take a deep breath. It turns out, there are plenty of great ways to pack everything you need in one carry-on bag and save money on baggage fees in the process!

How Do You Save Money on Baggage Fees?

You can save money on baggage fees by being strategic about how you travel. Pay attention to the following:

  • What type of carry-on bag you use
  • What you pack
  • How you pack

By being mindful of your packing strategy, you can ultimately reduce the weight of your luggage. You’ll then get the added bonus of saving money on extra fees and staying on budget at the airport!

What is the Best Type of Carry-On Luggage?

The best type of carry-on luggage is comfortable to carry and will easily fit under the seat or in the overhead bin on an airplane. You should ideally be able to pack everything you need for your trip inside.

Look for a bag that’s lightweight, comfortable, and spacious enough for any trip, whether it’s a short weekend getaway or a long honeymoon!

The most lightweight suitcases are made from the following materials:

  • Canvas
  • Nylon
  • Polycarbonate
  • ABS Plastic
  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • PVC
  • Microfiber

With a good, lightweight bag, you can totally bypass the checked baggage line at the airport. In fact, many airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and another personal bag, free of charge. You’ll have everything you need with you, saving time and money!

Pro Tip: You can get away with bringing a little more with you on an airplane by rocking a fanny pack. It may seem lame, but these accessories don’t count as carry-ons and have actually been making a comeback!

What Should You Pack for a Trip?

As tempting as it may be, remember you’re not picking up your house and bringing it with you. You can save money on airline travel by packing light as a feather.

Be sure to pack only the essentials in your carry-on bag:

  • The right type of clothes
  • Extra underwear & socks
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (if applicable)
  • Flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush & travel-sized toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Lip balm
  • Tissues
  • Sanitizer wipes
  • Eyeglasses or contacts (if applicable)
  • Prescribed medication (if applicable)
  • Empty water bottle & snacks
  • Book/magazine
  • Any necessary electronics
  • Cell phone & charger
  • Pen & paper
  • Wallet
  • Passport (if applicable)

The Right Type of Clothes

The “right” type of clothes largely depends on where you’re going. An Alaskan cruise will warrant different apparel than a Hawaiian vacation or a fancy wedding. Think about where you’re heading, and if you need to cut corners, bring less pants and shorts. You can wear these more than once!

Extra Underwear & Socks

Your feet might get sweaty if you do a lot of walking. You’re also going to want fresh underwear when you get out of the shower. For both of those reasons, it’s a good idea to bring more underwear and socks than you actually need on your trip.

Pajamas

Vacations and business trips can be exhausting! Bring along at least one pair of pajamas to change into at the end of the day. You’ll love this cozy wear for a day in the hotel room doing nothing but watching TV and ordering room service!

Swimsuit

It’s not always easy to find a bathing suit that you’re comfortable wearing. Pack your favorite in the same section of your carry-on bag as your undergarments and socks. Your swimming gear won’t take up too much space, whether it’s a string bikini, fun trunks, or a bold speedo!

Flip Flops

Even if you’re not going on a tropical vacation, you should still pack flip flops for your trip. Why? Some showers, especially at campgrounds, are full of other people’s fungi and could cause plantar warts to show up on your feet and toes. Gross.

Sunglasses

Protect your peepers with a stylish pair of shades. You can reuse the same pair throughout the trip, but be sure to keep your designer Oakley’s or Ray-Bans at home. The last thing you want is to accidentally lose them!

Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Keep a toothbrush and a travel-sized container of toothpaste in a zippered pocket. Store them in some kind of carrying case, or at the very least, a resealable plastic bag.

Deodorant

Who wants to be smelly while sitting in a packed airplane? Do everyone a favor and keep a bottle of deodorant in your carry-on bag. You can use this same bottle throughout your trip.

Hairbrush

This is another toiletry item that will easily fit in your carry-on bag. Keep it handy if you have really long hair as flyaways will most definitely occur when you’re over 30,000 feet in the sky!

Lip Balm

Whether you’re in first-class or coach, an airplane can get insanely dry during a flight. A good moisturizing lip balm will be your best defense! You’ll also be happy to have one if you’re going to a destination with different weather patterns than the ones in your hometown.

Tissues

Just like dry lips, you might also have to deal with a runny nose on an airplane. If that fasten seatbelt light is on, it will be hard to make a pit stop to the bathroom! Travel-sized packets of tissues hardly weigh anything, so be sure to slip a couple in your bag or pocket.

Sanitizer Wipes

Experts believe about 10% of the things you touch at an airport contain some kind of virus! Airlines might be strict about liquid or gel sanitizers, so carry wet wipes with you instead. You’ll want to use them every time you touch an armrest or public bathroom.

Eyeglasses or Contacts

For those who are blind as bats, be sure to pack your eyeglasses and/or contacts with you. It also doesn’t hurt to have contact solution and a microfiber cloth in case of any smudges.

Prescribed Medication

Your medication is literally just what the doctor ordered! If you have a lot to keep track of, organize all your capsules in a 7-day pill box.

Water Bottle & Snacks

Those peanuts or goldfish crackers aren’t always enough! Stuff a few granola bars or chip bags into your carry-on. You’ll also want a water bottle you can fill throughout your trip. Look for a collapsible one to save the most space in your bag!

Book/Magazine

It’s perfectly reasonable to bring something to read in the waiting area or while on the flight. If you don’t, you might be stuck reading one of those random airline magazines located in the back of the seat. Pick a nice, lightweight paperback or one to two magazines to keep you entertained.

Any Necessary Electronics

You might want your laptop to get some work done, a tablet to watch the latest season of Stranger Things, or a good Spotify playlist to keep you company. Bring along your electronics, and be ready to take them out during the security checkpoint.

Cell Phone & Charger

How will you post on Instagram throughout your trip without your cell phone? Save your battery by keeping your phone in airplane mode throughout the flight, and then charge it as soon as you get to the hotel room.

Pen & Paper

Do you need to sign some paperwork at the airport? Maybe you met a cutie in the airport lounge, and you want to jot down their phone number. Either way, make sure to have at least one pen and a small mini notebook in your bag.

Wallet

It would be downright devastating to make it all the way to the airport without your wallet! Triple check and make sure you’ve packed a small, lightweight one for your trip. It should be filled with cash, a debit card, a photo ID, and your medical card in case of emergencies.

Passport

If you’re traveling to a different country, you absolutely cannot forget your passport! You’re not going to be allowed onto the airplane without one that’s up-to-date.

It’s a good idea to pack only as many of these items as you need. An empty rolling suitcase can weigh up to 14 pounds on its own! Plus, most airlines, like Delta and U.S. Airways, have a strict weight restriction on luggage of 50 pounds. The lighter you pack, the less you have to worry.

Anything that’s MIA from the list, like shampoo, over-the-counter medications, sunscreen, and razors, is usually provided by the hotel or can be bought when you arrive to your destination.

Is it Better to Roll or Fold Clothes in a Suitcase?

When packing your suitcase, it’s recommended that you roll your clothes instead of folding them. This ultimately saves you space and makes it easier for you to tuck your shirts, pants, and other items into every corner of your bag.

You can make sure your clothes stay rolled by tying them with rubber bands or ribbon. It might seem like a pain in the butt at first, but it’s going to save you a lot of room and luggage fees in the long run. After all, if you can’t fit everything in one bag, you’re going to have to bring another.

How Do You Pack a Suitcase to Save Space?

Rolling your clothes is only half the battle when it comes to saving space in your suitcase. You need to be armed with even more knowledge to fit everything in one carry-on bag!

You can save space in your suitcase by doing all of the following:

  • Pack only the essentials.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
  • Shove your socks into your shoes.
  • Put small items in your pants pockets.
  • Go with travel-sized toiletries.
  • Keep your jewelry in a 7-day pill case or old mint tin.
  • Store cords in a sunglasses case.
  • Use the zippered areas for undergarments.
  • Try packing cubes.

You want to bring less luggage with you to the airport, not only because it’s annoying to carry, but also because many airlines charge up to $200 per bag. A little creativity and packing Tetris can go a long way!

What Are Some Other Tips When Packing for Travel?

You want to do everything you can to be ready for your trip, all without having to lug around a bunch of bags. Here are some additional packing tips:

Pack By Outfit

Start with day 1 and pick the clothes you plan on wearing, then move on to day 2, 3, and so on. Go with lightweight clothes that don’t wrinkle easily, and avoid going overboard with the accessories.

Choose Your Shoes Wisely

Unless you’re going hiking or to a fancy event, you really only need one comfortable pair of walking shoes that you can wear to the airport and sandals or flip flops in your bag for the pool or shower. Leave your heavy designer stilettos at home.

Use Dryer Sheets

The inside of a suitcase can be stinky if it’s been sitting in storage since your last vacation. The same can be said after the trip when your dirty clothes are inside the bag. Keep a few dryer sheets inside to get rid of any musty odors.

Bring a Laundry Bag

Who wants their dirty clothes to be mixed up with their clean clothes? A mesh drawstring bag or a large garbage bag are good places to put the t-shirts, underwear, and socks you’ve already worn.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

If you have extra space in your bag, consider bringing along a few emergency first aid items like bandages, gauze, or Neosporin. You never know when accidents might happen, and it’s better to be prepared.

Secure Luggage Tags on Your Bag

A luggage tag makes it easy for you to grab your bag and go! Are you traveling with a bunch of people? Consider getting custom luggage tags for everyone’s suitcase! You’ll easily be able to spot all the bags on the baggage claim with ease.

How Can You Reduce Your Luggage Weight?

Do you have a good lightweight bag and all the essentials packed, but your bag is still too heavy? Try any of these strategies to reduce your luggage weight:

  • Weigh your bag before getting to the airport.
  • Check in early to lighten the load if needed.
  • Share with your travel companions.
  • Wear a bunch of layers to the airport.
  • Buy small souvenirs or ship them in advance.

Weigh Your Bag

Do a final weigh-in of your suitcase the day before you leave for your trip. This is your opportunity to trim luggage fat, so you can ultimately avoid paying any overweight charges.

Check In Early

Don’t worry if time got away from you and you had to pack last minute. Make up for it by arriving to the airport early. Not only will this help you get a better seat, but it will also give you time to get rid of anything that’s clogging up your suitcase.

Share Your Suitcase

Sharing is caring! Consider getting one suitcase and putting not only your luggage, but also your travel companion’s luggage inside. This strategy is particularly great if you’re bringing kids along on the trip.

Wear Layers

Wear as many items as you can to the airport. The more you have on you, the less you have in your suitcase. That means you can easily avoid going over the recommended weight limit!

Buy Small Souvenirs

Keychains, magnets, and stuffed animals take up very little room in your suitcase. Get these from the gift shops if you’re bringing souvenirs home! If you absolutely want a heavy or larger item, see if you can get it shipped directly to your house instead of bringing it back on the flight.

How Soon Should You Pack for a Trip?

You should pack for a trip one week before you’re scheduled to leave. This gives you enough time to do your laundry, pack, finalize last minute tasks, and double check that you’re only bringing the necessary items in your suitcase.

Make sure you’re checking off all the boxes:

  • You’re using a lightweight carry-on bag.
  • The essentials are on your packing list.
  • Everything’s fitting in one carry-on bag and a personal bag.
  • Your bag is below the airline’s weight limits.

Once those boxes are all checked, you’re good to go! Get to the airport early, settle in the terminal with a book or magazine, and enjoy all that money you’re saving on baggage fees. Think of it as extra cash you can use toward your vacation!

The Bottom Line

A little extra care in your choice of bag, what you pack in it, and how it’s done can make all the difference in you staying on budget at the airport. Be smart about how you’re traveling, and above all, have a good time on your trip!

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About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.