Raise your hand if you love going on vacation but HATE having to pack a carry-on suitcase.

As a reformed chronic over-packer, the thought of having to make it through the TSA line and then squeeze my luggage in the overhead bin filled me with complete and absolute dread.

Traveling is supposed to be fun and exciting. I mean, you’re hopping on a plane and discovering a brand-new place.

The last thing you want to feel is stress before you even step foot in the airport!

But not to worry. As always, I’ve got you covered. 😎

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Pinterest Pin for packing your carry on

Whether you’re a minimalist (or aspiring minimalist), a budget-conscious traveler, or a wanderlust warrior, get ready to turn your packing anxiety into a semi-enjoyable event!

Here’s how to pack smart and light for your next big (or small) adventure.

**My packing video is at the end of this post.

Do This Before You Even Touch Your Carry On!

Make Your Life Easier: The Packing Guide Checklist

Creating your own packing list is an absolute game-changer.

It takes all the guesswork out of the equation and ensures nothing gets left behind.

But, honey, who has time for that?!

So, I’ve made this entire process super easy for you and created a Packing Guide Checklist that you can use for every trip you go on.

I can’t tell you how much stress this will take from your packing routine!

Download yours for free here.

Essential Items for Packing

The first step to smart packing is nailing down what’s essential. You only want to take your need-to-have items with you.

Clothing Essentials

piles of clothes on a bed and on the floor next to a carry-on suitcase

When it comes to your wardrobe, versatility is key. Select clothes you can mix and match to create custom and comfortable outfits.

A nice pair of jeans, a cute dress, and several tops that can transition from day to evening wear are a great start.

Also, don’t forget to pack your carry-on suitcase based on your destination’s climate.

Having more luggage space means more space for souvenirs. 😉

Pro Tip 1: Wear your bulkiest items, like boots and your heavy jacket, on the plane to free up valuable suitcase space.

Pro Tip 2: Always pack one-third less than you think you’ll need. TRUST ME.

Toiletries and Cosmetics

These two categories are usually the bane of every traveler’s existence.

I’m actually ashamed to admit that toiletries and cosmetics take up the most space in my carry-on suitcase.

Do yourself a favor and pare them down as much as you can.

Toothpaste, shampoo, and your favorite lotions might come in travel sizes, or you can decant them into these reusable, TSA-approved containers.

TSA-approved travel cosmetic containers for carry-on suitcase

And remember to pack only what you can’t live without; most hotels or Airbnbs offer basic toiletries.

For cosmetics, try packing a makeup palette with multitasking shades.

Or use dual-purpose items like lip and cheek tints and mini travel brushes to keep your beauty routine hassle-free.

Electronics and Gadgets

mobile phone and camera supplies next to an open carry-on suitcase

Unless you’re a filmmaker, do you really need a suitcase full of electronics?

Your smartphone easily becomes a travel guide, a camera, and a lifeline to the outside world.

Pair it with a portable charger, and you’re set for most of your tech needs.

If you’re like me and work on the go (thank you, remote job!), securely pack your laptop or tablet within a cushioned sleeve to pass through airport security with ease.

Travel Documents

passport and printout of a world map

This is the boring, yet absolutely crucial part of packing.

Passports, tickets, and any necessary visas should always be easily accessible if stored in your carry-on luggage.

Backup copies are also a digital lifesaver should anything go awry.

Ready, Set, Pack!

Packing a carry-on suitcase doesn’t have to be this daunting, stressful task.

By focusing on what truly matters—the experiences you’ll have, not the items in your suitcase—you can pack with ease and enjoy your travels.

Check out my video below for some inspo and to learn how to pack your carry on like a pro!

Peace, love, and good vibrations.

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