Being able to travel with carry-on luggage only is a great way of saving money on flight costs. More and more of us are ditching the large suitcases and cramming our belongings into one smaller case or hold all to avoid paying for luggage stored in the hold; with some airlines charging around $30 – $40 per item stowed, it’s no wonder that passengers are looking to cut costs.

The rules around carry-on or hand luggage can be confusing as they appear to differ slightly between airlines and even in the restrictions imposed by the airports themselves. It’s best to follow the tightest restriction scenario.Travel with a carry-on only

Many manufacturers produce luggage that meets the maximum dimensions approved for carry-on luggage; however, you should be careful not to rely on stuffing the side pockets with extra items if this is likely to make the case exceed those permitted dimensions. Some airlines use a specially designed cage into which your item of luggage must comfortably fit; if you can’t easily slide your bag in and out of it, it won’t be allowed in the cabin and you will have to pay a hefty fee to have it stashed in the hold. Soft bags can be useful in this situation because you can more easily squash them and the contents to make sure they fit in the cage.

Liquidstoiletry bag

Any liquids should be packed separately in a see-through resealable plastic bag. If you don’t have one to hand as you pack you can pick them up from the airport; sometimes they’re free but as people become more used to the security regulations, there is increasingly a charge. There is a recommended size for this bag of one quart; don’t take a larger one as you could find it refused by security staff.

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The maximum amount of liquid that can be carried in one bottle is 100 milliliters or 3.4 fluid ounces. Lip gloss counts as a liquid, but lipstick does not so do give some thought to what items you want to pack as this little bag can fill up surprisingly quickly. Ask at your local beauty counter for free samples which will save space when packing. Look out for items with more than one use such as hair and body shampoo, or a tinted moisturizer.

Create an On The Go Toiletry Bag

Pack Only What You Need, Not Want You Want

When it’s time to pack up the family for a trip things can quickly get out of hand. Save time and energy by making sure each member of the family only packs what they need. For example, my teenager loves to wear hats, but on vacation, he can settle for one hat. And if he just can’t settle for one, he can wear one onto the plane.

If you’re traveling with someone else, try not to duplicate items. Do you both need to carry a hairbrush or hairdryer? Communicate with each other and reduce your packing!

Packing Tips

Avoid lost luggage and excess baggage fee by traveling with only one carry one suitcase. With a few tricks, it is easy to pack light and use only a small suitcase.

Only One Week of Clothes

Never pack more than one week’s worth of clothes. If you need to send your clothes out to be laundered or wash them yourself.

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Pack One Color Scheme

We often travel for weeks on end with only one carry-on suitcase each. To maximize space pack in one color scheme. When picking out clothes pack those similar in color. By sticking to one primary color every outfit can match with the same pair of shoes. Only packing one pairs of shoes will save a tremendous amount of space in a suitcase. For example, do all gold jewelry, neutral makeup, and one pair of shoes. Make sure everything you pack goes with that one pair of shoes, makeup, and jewelry. This may sound crazy, but you will save a lot of room doing this and be able to pack a few more items to last you through the trip.

Take Versatile Items

Pack versatile clothes that layer to easily mix and match outfits. I have a travel dress that is reversible so it looks like two completely different dresses. Instead of having to pack two dresses, I just take this one. 

No Bulky Items

Leave bulky items behind. If you must take a bulky item like boots or a large winter coat wear them on the day you travel instead of packing them in a suitcase. You will also want to leave behind items that a hotel provides for you like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion.

Wear the Biggest Pair of Shoes on Travel Day

It can be challenging to travel with just a carry-on suitcase, but here is one easy trick anyone can do that saves lots of room. Tennis shoes, boots, or wedge sandals can take up a lot of room in a suitcase. In our family, if you need bulky shoes during the trip, then you wear the biggest pair on travel day. So, instead of those bulky shoes taking up any room you need, they never go into a suitcase, because they are on your feet.

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Lightweight Suitcase

If you are worried that your carry-on is going to be too heavy for you to easily maneuver consider buying a light-weight carry-on suitcase like the American Tourister Z-Lite DLX. It only weighs 5.3 lbs.

Each of my children brings one hard-sided carry-on and if they want one backpack. This ensures we do not have to pay to check any bags. My daughter has carried the same hard-sided suitcase for years now, the Mickey Mouse Suitcase by American Tourister.

I have been using the same suitcase for years, the Ricardo Beverly Hills Roxbury 2.0 Carry-On. I used one of these for four years before an airline broke my bag. Since it was such a great suitecase I decided to replace it with the same exact one. 


There are a few odd items that I always travel with.

  • A travel size clothing steamer because I do not like using a hotel iron on my clothes;
  • A resistance loop so I can work out in my hotel room regardless if there is a gym;
  • A sleep mask to block out all light and sleep better.


If we will be doing a lot of outdoor activities during a trip, I take a Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote. It collapses down quite small and can be carried like a purse or a backpack.


Remember, no matter where you are traveling there will be a store. Whatever you forget, you can buy.