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The art of traveling light: 5 tips for packing a carry-on

My name is Isabelle and I’m a notorious over-packer who somehow always forgets that when it comes to packing, less is most definitely more. Luckily, I’m surrounded by expert-packers who are here to save me from entering a 12-step program: Thanks to their advice on how to pack the perfect carry-on, ‘hauling luggage’ will no longer be a form of exercise for me.

Simon: Do your research and plan ahead

Is it essential? Is it valuable? If the answer is yes to one or both, then I’m packing it in my carry-on: Documents, money, electronics, and some items of clothing are all going in the cabin with me. If my suitcase were to be lost, I’d still be able to get by, for a day or two, with just the contents of my carry-on. Before I start packing, I always check airline regulations. Companies differ on size, weight, and the number of bags passengers can take, so it’s well worth conducting some pre-packing research. Although weight restrictions can seem annoying, it forces me to pack light, which is never a bad thing. The type of bag I take depends on what kind of trip I’m going on: For a long weekend, a carry-on suitcase is all I’ll bring; for extended stays, I’ll pack a sturdy, versatile backpack that can be used for excursions once I arrive.

Narae: Never without my survival kit

If I fly longer than six hours, I always pack earplugs, a sleep mask and some emergency medicines like allergy pills or painkillers. If I check in some of my luggage, I pack the “survival kit” in my carry-on suitcase: In case my checked-in luggage is lost or didn’t make the flight, I need my phone charger, fresh underwear and a comfortable dress to change into and survive a day without my luggage. I usually don’t worry about the weight of my carry-on and sometimes pack small but heavy things, like books, on purpose. It’s (literally) a pain to put in the overhead bin, but it’s an easy way to get around paying for overweight luggage. (You didn’t hear this from me.)

Christie: It’s all about valuables and swimsuits

I definitely pack things for my immediate needs and any valuables in the carry-on bag. If I go directly to the beach, I’ll bring my swimsuit in the carry-on – it’s one of those things that’s annoying to replace in case the luggage is delayed. Other than that, I pack a lot of mix-and-match pieces to get the most out of the size of my bag. Last but not least, I always leave space in my carry-on, just in case I go shopping at my destination.

Tom: Smell and look the part

I always take my essential toiletries in my hand luggage. Not really for convenience, but in case my checked bag gets lost or stolen, and I’m left with nowhere to stay and have to survive in the airport. I may be living rough but thanks to my cologne, nobody will ever know. I rotate my style of carry-on bag every few years, but this season, I’m rocking an expensive leather duffle from Rowallan. The shoulder strap broke so I have to carry it by hand, but this only adds to the high-brow pretence. I’ve recently started rolling up my clothes to fit more in the bag, and so far, it’s working well. Of course, it then weighs more than my checked bag, and I can’t let the cabin crew know or they’ll take it off me, but at least I get a workout from putting it in the overhead bin.

Kaisa: Master the art of picky packing

In my carry-on, you will always find a zip-lock bag with all my (mini) cosmetics and if traveling with checked-in luggage as well, a change of clothing and all my valuables. My carry-on of choice is a small suitcase with four wheels that I can roll alongside (instead of pulling behind) – it allows me to zip through the airport the fastest. To make everything fit, I have perfected the art of picky packing: I only pack things that I really need and plan my outfits in advance. Whatever you do pack, roll it up to avoid tons of wrinkles and use plastic bags or cloth bags to separate things. Remember to pack an extra plastic bag for laundry (you don’t want that stuff mixing with the rest of your goodies) and always leave a bit of space for shopping – you’re unlikely to return from a city trip without a few new items for your wardrobe.

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