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Packing Light: How to Fit It All in Your Personal Item

BY: Sarah Gorr | Nov 19, 2018

Packing light is tough, or at least it feels that way once you've laid out everything you need and your bag of choice starts looking unsettlingly small. But airlines have been charging fees for checked bags for years, and now some are even charging for carry-ons, which means even your lightweight luggage will incur a fee.

What's still free? Personal items. For quick trips, swap your standard luggage for a smaller bag or purse and you'll be flying fee-free in no time! Just follow our helpful tips for packing light.


Picking the right bag

Now that we've ruled out your typical rolling suitcase, what should you use instead? First, check your airline's size regulations—typically your bag must fit under the seat in front of you—then grab your biggest purse or smallest backpack. We promise you'll be surprised at just how much it can fit with some careful planning.


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minimize your packing list

To fit your clothes into your personal item, you'll need to pack smart. Start by layering up and wearing all of your bulkiest clothes on the plane (think boots, chunky sweaters, and blazers or suit jackets). Then follow these simple tricks:

  • Roll your clothes to save more space.
  • Skip the toiletries if you're staying with family.
  • Share hairdryers and straighteners.
  • Leave your camera at home (that's what phones are for these days anyway).
  • Tuck a foldable duffel bag (like this one) in your personal item in case you'll be lugging more home than you're bringing.
  • Visiting family or friends? Do a load of laundry so you can rewear your mini wardrobe!

We asked moms to share their best kids' packing lists for a stress-free flight.


Keep your stuff organized

Luggage organizers are incredibly handy under normal circumstances, but if you're trying to get away with just a personal item? Then they're lifesavers. They'll help you keep your clothes neatly folded in a bag that has to fit your whole life for a few days. Can't fit one of the bigger organizers? Use the smaller ones to at least keep your unmentionables neatly out of sight.

As for everything else, try to rely on a single device so you're not weighed down. Your smartphone can easily hold hours of music and podcasts plus all of your essentials like airline tickets, hotel reservations, and a meditation app so you can regain your zen after your flight's delayed (again).


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