If you’re like me, when you are traveling you like your options. This is especially true if your destination has frequent weather changes. I use to have an overpacking issue, but after many trips and “no elevator” situations, I’ve finally learned how to fit everything I need for a 7 day trip into one small carry on bag. Disclaimer- I often check a bag too because I really, really like to shop! I also have a daypack that I use for touring (see 9 Daypack Essential to Keep You Prepared While Traveling).
6 Steps for Packing 7+ Days of Clothing in a Carry On Bag
1. Pick out coordinating clothing.
I usually stick with two main colors. I know some people suggest to take mainly black, but my pale skin looks vampirish in black, so I ignore that advice. In the pictures below, you’ll notice mainly coral, blue, and white. This coordination gives me more choices and variety in outfits.
For this post I packed:
4 pair of pants & jeans
3 pair of shorts
1 rain/wind jacket
3 pair of shoes
As you can see, I have more than enough pieces for a week. I usually pack this combination when I’m going to be gone ten or more days and then hand wash halfway through my stay. I love these Tide Travel Sink Packets! I keep one with my toiletries all of the time. Perfect for hand washing in the sink.
Now all of those items would not fit in my carry on bag folded the normal way. I folded them up and then pressed down as hard as I could. You can see that they clothes come way past the top of the suitcase.
2. Roll up each item of clothing tightly.
Rolling up the clothes seems to keep them from wrinkling as much as just folding them, and it takes up less space. Also, a rolled up pair of jeans will less likely “expand” when I put them in my suitcase.
3. Put similar types of clothing in 2-gallon ziplock bags.
I love 2-gallon ziplock bags for packing. They are way cheaper than the space bags you see on TV. I always throw in an empty bag or two labeled “dirty” with a sharpie so my clean clothes don’t get mixed up with my dirty ones. This is especially helpful when we’re camping and get really dirty (and smelly)!
I put similar types of clothing in the same bag, for example all of the shorts in one bag. I use to put outfits together in one bag but found it not necessary when everything matches. Plus, it never failed that I would have a shorts & top together, and then would need to wear pants and a cardigan because of a weather change.
3. Sit on the bag!
This is the secret scientific part of the packing. Before zipping up the pack, you sit your bottom down on the bag squeezing all of the air out of it. For extra flatness, roll your bottom back and forth. A bigger bottom comes in handy for this step!
4. Roll and flatten the rest of your clothes.
5. Put bulky, non-flattening items in your suitcase first.
I always put my shoes in first because the ziplock bags will bend around them. I will usually fill in the shoes with socks or other small items like some jewelry (in snack-sized bags) or undies. My toiletries I put in the outside pockets of the suitcase. Don’t forget your liquids need to be in a clear, quart-sized bag. Putting my liquids in the outside pockets helps me going through security more quickly. That way I don’t have to open my whole suitcase to pull them out.
6. Put the rest of the ziplock bags in the suitcase.
See how I still have extra room! I put any electronics I might need in the airport right on top so I can find them easily!
I love my international portable power adapter and converter! It is one of the best travel accessories that I have ever purchased. It goes with me everywhere! When I’m sitting in the airport, the whole family can charge their phones at once. We even keep it out in the living room at home. No more fighting over who gets to use the electrical plug by the couch!
Are any of these suggestions new to you or do you have a different packing system? We’d love to hear your ideas. Please comment below! Keep up with all of our travel, camping, and cycling tips by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,and Pinterest. Leave us your email (blue box at the bottom of the post) to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and never miss a post!
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