How To Pack A Carry-On Like A Pro: Top Tips + Luggage Favorites

How To Pack A Carry-On Like A Pro: Top Tips + Luggage Favorites

Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or embarking on your first adventure, mastering the art of packing is the difference between fitting all of your OOTD pieces and having to leave your favorite shoes or accessories behind.

With thoughtful planning and a our expert travel tips and tricks, you can bid farewell to the excessive fees associated with checked bags, along with the anxiety of lost luggage, while saying hello to all of your favorite outfit pieces as they travel safely with you to your destination in your carry-on bag.

We’ll share how to pack a carry-on to maximize space and introduce you to our sturdy and chic carry-ons at Rollink — the perfect companion for your next adventure.

How To Pack A Carry-On

Fasten your seatbelts: we’ve asked our experts to share their foolproof packing tricks of the trade to ensure you’re a carry-on packing pro in no time.

1. Create A Packing List

When it comes to the art of packing light, a packing list is key to ensuring you’re only bringing what you need, reducing the chances of overpacking or forgetting the essentials (we have our eyes on you, charging cable).

A packing list acts as your blueprint so you can avoid that all-too-familiar habit of tossing in “just in case” items that add unnecessary weight to your bag.

2. Check The Weather

When traveling, checking the weather forecast is your secret weapon to making sure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

You wouldn’t want to forget your waterproof jacket for scattered rain showers now, would you?

Checking the weather allows you to pack exactly what you need and prevents you from having to buy extra items at your destination.

3. Pack Versatile Clothing

Space is at a premium in a carry-on. You have a limited amount of room, but you still need stylish OOTD pieces for all kinds of situations — whether it’s an impromptu beach outing, a cozy dinner at a local bistro or even a business meeting.

So what’s the solution to ensure that you’re outfit-ready for any occasion, without overpacking? Versatile clothing — pieces that you can mix, match and alternate to make it easier to transition your outfit for any time of the day.

To choose versatile clothing:

  • Focus on neutral colors: Stick to a color palette that you can easily mix and match, such as black, white and grey. If you need to add a pop of color or texture to your outfit, consider statements accessories, like necklaces or scarves.
  • Pick multi-functional pieces: Pack clothes that can easily transition from day to night so you can create a variety of looks without having to pack your entire wardrobe. For example, for a day look, you can layer your little black dress with a denim jacket or colorful cardigan. When the night sets in, glam up your little black dress by swapping your denim jacket for a leather jacket.

4. Place Heavy Items At The Bottom

Packing your bag is a bit like building a house.

Starting with a solid foundation of heavy items at the bottom allows you to create a stable structure that can accommodate all of your travel must-haves without risking balance.

5. Roll Clothes

Even if you’re on team fold, rolling clothes takes the cake when it comes to space saving, as this technique compresses your clothes into compact bundles that can fit every nook and cranny available in your suitcase.

To roll your clothes like a pro:

  • Lay the clothes flat: Start by laying the clothing item on a flat surface and smooth out any wrinkles. This will help keep your clothes looking crisp when you unpack.
  • Start rolling: If you’re rolling a top, fold the sleeves towards the center and take the hem of your top and fold it one inch in an upward direction. From the hem to the collar of your top, roll your shirt. If you’re rolling longer clothes, such as trousers or long-sleeved shirts, fold them in half, lengthwise. For example, fold a pair of pants so that the legs are on top of each other. Starting at the waist all the way down to the hem of each pant leg, roll your pants.
  • Secure the roll: Try to keep the roll as compact as possible, like you’re rolling a sleeping bag. If your clothes unroll easily, secure them with a rubber band or packing cube.

6. Utilize Gap Space

Taking advantage of the gap space in your carry-on when traveling is a smart strategy that maximizes your available storage. It helps you fit in more essentials, like socks and chargers, into otherwise wasted space — think the insides of your shoes or between rolled clothing!

To utilize the gap space in your carry-on:

  • Fill your shoes: Shoes can often be empty space hogs in your bag. Maximize this valuable space by stuffing shoes with small items like socks, underwear or chargers.
  • Maximize every pocket of your bag: The interior and exterior pockets of your bag aren’t just for show — they’re extra storage space! Utilize pockets for small or flat items like travel documents, earphones or your favorite mystery novel.
  • Pack in between rolled clothes: If you’re rolling your clothes, there will be small gaps between each roll. These gaps are perfect for fitting small items, like belts, ties or even your travel-sized toiletry containers.

7. Pack Items In Layers

Packing items in layers is an effective strategy for keeping your carry-on balanced, organized and easy to navigate.

To pack your travel essentials in layers:

  • Start with a solid base: Place heavier items at the bottom of your bag, such as shoes and books. This keeps the weight evenly distributed and prevents lighter items from being crushed.
  • Layer your clothes next: Place your clothes on the top of your base layer. You can separate your clothes into different types (tops, bottoms and underwear) for easier access.
  • Pack fragile items in between clothes: Fragile items, like souvenirs, should be surrounded by soft items to ensure cushioning.
  • Place your frequently used items on the top layer: Items that you’ll need frequently, such as travel documents, snacks or a toothbrush, should go on top for easy access.

8. Pack Your Electronics Last

From laptops and tablets to charging cables and bulky cameras, packing your electronics last provides you with easy access to your gadgets for a charge or airport security.

When packing your electronic must-haves:

  • Protect your devices: Invest in durable protective cases, laptop sleeves and bags for your electronic devices to help protect them from scratches and other potential damage during transit.
  • Organize cables and accessories: Utilize cable organizers and pouches to keep your cables, chargers and other accessories organized. If your gadgets have different types of charging ports, use a multi-charger cable to reduce the number of charging cables you’ll need on your trip.

A woman lying beside her suitcase

How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase To Stay Organized

To further maximize your suitcase’s available space, follow these organization tips:

1. Use Travel-Sized Containers

Travel-sized containers are a must-have when packing a carry-on bag for two main reasons: they help save precious space and, they help ensure that you comply with TSA regulations, which usually limit the volume of liquids, gels and aerosols you can carry to no larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.

2. Use Packing Cubes

Using packing cubes when traveling with a carry-on is a game-changer — these small yet mighty bags can compartmentalize your luggage, making it easier to find that one item without having to rummage through your entire suitcase.

Plus, they can serve as mini drawers in your hotel room, reducing the hassle of unpacking and repacking, so you can just grab and go when it’s time for checkout.

To make the most of your packing cubes:

  • Sort your essentials: Decide how you want to organize your cubes. You can organize by clothing type (tops in one, bottoms in another), by outfit (each day’s clothes in a separate cube), or even by activity (for example, beachwear, hiking clothes and dinner outfits).
  • Pack from heavy to light: Pack heavier items at the bottom of the packing cube and lighter items on top to prevent wrinkles.
  • Use different sizes of packing cubes: Bigger cubes are ideal for bulkier items like sweaters or pants, while smaller ones are perfect for underwear, socks, accessories and medicine.

With Rollink’s Packing Cubes, you can stay organized and neatly store your essentials like slippers, jewelry and hair care items to make sure they’re safe and secure during travel.

3. Utilize Compression Bags

Take space saving to another level with compression bags — travel organizers that utilize airtight sealing and vacuum suction to compress its contents.

Once your bag is sealed, you can use a vacuum cleaner or the bag’s built-in air valve to remove excess air from inside. As the air is removed, the bag compresses, causing the contents to shrink in size.

A woman sealing her compression bag

How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase To Meet Flight Requirements

Is your plane ticket booked? Don’t forget to check the carry-on requirements for the airline you’re traveling with.

Here’s a quick reference chart for size limits across popular airlines in the United States:

U.S. Domestic Airlines  Size  Weight 
Allegiant Air  22” x 14” x 9”  40 lbs 
American Airlines  22” x 14” x 9”  40 lbs 
Alaska Airlines  22” x 14” x 9”  No standard weight, just need to fit your bag in the overhead compartment 
Delta Airlines  22” x 14” x 9”  No standard weight, just need to fit your bag in the overhead compartment 
Frontier Airlines  24” x 16” x 10”  35 lbs 
Hawaiian Airlines  22” x 14” x 9”  25 lbs 
JetBlue Airlines  22” x 14” x 9”  No standard weight, just need to fit your bag in the overhead compartment 
United Airlines  22” x 14.2” x 9”  No standard weight, just need to fit your bag in the overhead compartment 
Southwest Airlines  24” x 16” x 10”  No standard weight, just need to fit your bag in the overhead compartment 
Spirit Airlines  22” x 18” x 10”  40 lbs 

Explore Carry-Ons At Rollink

Whether you’re about to hit the open road or you need to catch a flight for a quick weekend getaway, Rollink’s versatile carry-on suitcases are your perfect travel companions.

Rollink’s wide range of luggage is designed to effortlessly hold all of your travel essentials while withstanding the rigors of every type of journey!

1. Flex 360° Carry-On Spinner Suitcase

First up in our luggage roster is the Flex 360° Carry-On Spinner, a luggage piece that can carry most of your travel belongings with a 40 L packing volume.

The Flex 360° Spinner is made from durable, impact-resistant polycarbonate hard shells and has 360° double spinner wheels, multiple pockets, cross strap dividers and a built-in TSA-approved lock.

Choose from two carry-on sizes: domestic and international carry-on.

(Speaking of domestic and carry-on bags, check out our domestic vs. international carry-on showdown to learn about the key differences of each bag!)

Rollink Flex 360° Spinner

Flex 360° Spinner features include:

  • Lightweight
  • Aluminum adjustable telescopic handle
  • Collapsible for hassle-free storage
  • 6.2 lbs & 40 L packing volume
  • Folds flat to about 6” thick

2. Rollink Flex Vega  

The Flex Vega is an all-star luggage line that is made from durable polycarbonate hard shells to handle the wear and tear of any journey.

Ideal for quick getaways to satiate your wanderlust, you can easily store 3-5 days of clothes and 2-3 pairs of shoes in your Flex Vega.

Choose from two carry-on sizes: domestic and international carry-on.

Rollink Flex Vega

Flex Vega features include:    

  • Scratch, water and impact-resistant
  • Height-adjustable telescopic handle
  • A side pocket for easy access to travel essentials
  • Fits carry-on requirements for most major airlines
  • 5.1 lbs & 42L packing volume
  • Hassle-free storage at home and on the go
  • Folds flat to about 2’’ thick

3. Rollink Flex Aura  

The Flex Aura is the way to go if soft shell is more your look and feel.

The Flex Aura stands up to travel wear and tear with its durable and flexible polyester exterior. Oh, and did we mention it’s waterproof as well?

Meet the Flex Aura – water-proof, impact-resistant and spacious 

Choose from two carry-on sizes: domestic and international carry-on.

Flex Aura features include:

  • Upscale and premium design
  • Silent, coated wheels for easy gliding
  • Front and inner pockets for extra storage
  • 5.3 lbs & 42L packing volume
  • Secure closure with a magnetic strap
  • Folds flat to about 2’’ thick

Key Takeaways On How To Pack A Carry-On

While packing can be stressful if you’re not sure where to start, you can ease your stress and pack like a pro with our expert travel hacks.

To pack your carry-on like an expert:

  • Create a checklist
  • Check the weather
  • Choose versatile clothing
  • Place heavy items at the bottom
  • Roll clothes
  • Utilize gap space
  • Pack items in layers
  • Pack your electronics last

To stay organized:

  • Use travel sized containers
  • Use packing cubes
  • Utilize compression bags
  • Flexible, durable and made to withstand even the most exciting adventure, Rollink luggage allows you to travel with ease and in style.

Find your perfect travel companion at Rollink and embrace your next trip with confidence!

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