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Efficiently Pack a Carry-On| The Ultimate Guide to Travel Light

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Tired of lugging around bulky carry-on at the airport while carrying your baby?

Or at the counter, the sweet lady tells you to offload your precious contents from your carry-on and either throw them away or rearrange them inside your check-in luggage because it’s overweight! What do you do?

I bet that, even before starting off, your mood will be encapsulated by dark clouds of distress.

That’s me. I have faced this situation and learned a lesson very hard; whatever I do, I shall have to efficiently pack a carry-on so that my hands are spared from carrying overburdened baggage while carrying a baby.

To Efficiently pack a carry-on, we need strategic planning. Let’s plan together for an easy-breezy start for your upcoming vacation!

Essential Preparations to Efficiently Pack A Carry-On

Before we start packing for the essentials, a few things should always be kept in mind.

1. Check the baggage policy of your airline

When booking a flight with any airline, I suggest you check the airline’s baggage policy first. Every airline has its luggage specifications. While some will allow you a few inches or pounds extra in their cabin, others might be very strict about their policy.

You might want to take a look at how much they allow in the cabin. Because if you don’t, you’ll have to face trouble at the baggage counters, earning unnecessary side eyes.

To help you, we have collected a few lists of major airlines and their carry-on/cabin luggage allowances.

P.S.: You can refer directly to the airlines’ sites for more info.

AirlineCarry-On Baggage Limit
Delta Air Lines22 x 14 x 9 in
American Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in
United Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in
Southwest Airlines24 x 16 x 10 in
JetBlue Airways22 x 14 x 9 in
Alaska Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in
British Airways22 x 18 x 10 in
Air Canada21.5 x 15.5 x 9 in
Lufthansa21.5 x 15.5 x 9 in
Emirates22 x 15 x 8 in
Singapore Airlines22 x 18 x 8 in
Qantas22 x 14 x 9 in
Cathay Pacific22 x 14 x 9 in
Air France21.7 x 13.8 x 9.9 in
KLM21.5 x 13.5 x 10 in
Virgin Atlantic22 x 14 x 9 in
Spirit Airlines22 x 18 x 10 in
Frontier Airlines24 x 16 x 10 in
Allegiant Air22 x 14 x 9 in
Hawaiian Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in
Japan Airlines22 x 16 x 10 in
All Nippon Airways (ANA)22 x 16 x 10 in
Swiss International Air Lines21.7 x 15.7 x 9 in
Etihad Airways22 x 15 x 8 in
Qatar Airway20 x 15 x 10 in
AirAsia22 x 14 x 9 in
Air India22 x 16 x 8 in

2. Choosing the right carry-on

Choosing the right carry-on is the key to flexible travel. Whether you need a duffle bag, a carry-on trolley, or just a backpack should depend upon the purpose of your travel.

If I were you, I would always choose a carry-on trolley if it’s a carry-on-only travel. For five years now, I have always been traveling with my kid. So I love the flexibility of maneuvering a bag with 360o rotating wheels.

I also prefer carrying a bag with pockets that can slide inside the retracting trolley handle. This way, I don’t have to keep managing the handles and can keep one of my hands-free to hold the little imp’s hands so that she doesn’t run away while I’m waiting in line for immigration.

People who go hiking frequently prefer backpacks. It’s easy to carry things on your shoulders rather than dragging them on the ground.

3. Checking the weather

Do check the weather before you even think of starting to pack. I’m sure you don’t want to unnecessarily carry a heavy jacket and skip that new dress or pair of shoes. Or skip your favorite part of the trip and instead go jacket hunting cause it’s too windy and chilly without it.

It was my first time visiting Chicago with my newly married hubby. Even though it was the end of May, Indiana’s temperature was quite warm that year. I was very new to North American weather changes! And didn’t believe in weather apps either!

Never in my nightmare had I imagined that an hour or two of travel up North could make the dip in temperature so bad that the next morning, instead of covering the places we had planned to visit, we were hunting for a pair of jackets. One for him and one for me. It was so windy and chilly outside we couldn’t stand it for more than 30 minutes.

One of the greatest goof up in my life!

So, check your weather from Accuweather or any other weather app or website you may like. Or you might end up like me!

4. Roll, fold, or bundle up.

When it comes to choosing a technique of folding or rolling clothes, in my opinion, it’s a personal choice. Some people may even prefer the technique of bundling up over rolling or folding. I have always loved a mix and match of folding and rolling, where it’s 80 percent folding and 20 percent rolling.

Also, there are a lot of folding techniques to choose from. I personally prefer the KonMari folding technique. When I return from India, I bring a lot of ethnic wear. I would absolutely hate to roll any of my ethnic wear as it would ruin the heavy and delicate work on the material.

So, I always prefer to fold my clothes and put them in packing cubes, then fill the dead spaces with rolled clothes. The packing cubes or compression bags help a lot to reduce the space taken up by fluffy clothes, thereby saving more space for other important items.

5. Planning Ahead To Pack A Carry-On

Start thinking about what to wear on your trip before you start collecting stuff. This way, you’ll save yourself from the last-minute worries and the hazard of overpacking.

Write down a list of things you think you’ll need, and then tick out only the items you need.

You’ll be amazed when you see that ‘what you think you need’ is much larger than the list of ‘only what you need’ list.

Start packing after your list is final. Do not pack anything extra unless you missed something “really” important. If you do not have enough time to draw a list, please feel free to download our free editable and printable list of items and thank us later on!

These are some very important points to remember even before you start packing. Once you’ve checked out all these points. Pat your back and get ready to pack!

Welcome To ShuffledMind

Sayani Routh At West Rocky Mountain

I’m absolutely thrilled to embark on this blogging journey and connect with all of you. Hi, I’m Sayani, the voice behind the words you’ll find here. Through my experiences as a human being and a mom living in India, Canada, and the USA, I’ve cultivated a unique perspective that I’m excited to share with you.

Love, Sayani


Sayani Routh
Sayani Routh
A Mom, passionate reader & writer, child advocate: I share my parenting journey, inspired by my real-life experiences.


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