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I was a flight attendant for 2 years. Here are 11 of my best tips for packing a carry-on.

Arina Bloom   

I was a flight attendant for 2 years. Here are 11 of my best tips for packing a carry-on.
  • I spent two years as a flight attendant, so I know my way around a carry-on suitcase.
  • I like to pack heavy shoes at the bottom of the bag and wear my bulkiest clothes on the flight.

Packing for a trip can be stressful.

I was a flight attendant for two years, and I had to pack and unpack my carry-on at least three times a week. Sometimes I had to pack summer and winter clothes at the same time because I didn't know my final destination.

Over time, I finally figured out a perfect way to pack my bag efficiently while utilizing all possible space and keeping clothes in a good condition for traveling.

Know how much luggage you can take on the plane before you pack

Check your airline's size and weight restrictions. It's one thing to pack efficiently and use all the space possible, but it's pointless if your bag ends up too heavy for the plane.

Try to weigh your carry-on before the trip. You can even use a regular scale: Just weigh yourself first, then step on the scale holding the luggage and subtract your weight.

Usually, if it's a low-cost airline, the rules are stricter when it comes to carry-on and personal bags. The rules can also vary when you travel around European countries.

Pack heavy things in the bottom of the bag

I always put heavy shoes on the bottom and lighter clothes on top in my carry-on.

This helps lessen potential wrinkles on your clothes, and everything tends to stay more organized throughout the flight.

It's usually worth it to wear your bulkiest items instead of packing them

Try to wear the heaviest items at the airport — things like clunky winter boots or jackets.

Plus, you can always carry a sweater on the plane in your hands rather than taking up extra space in the luggage.

Utilize the space inside your shoes — especially for delicate items

I always put underwear, socks, or small tops inside shoes. It saves some space and also keeps shoes from looking squished when you unpack.

Shoes are also a good space to store more delicate items, such as sunglasses, watches, perfumes, and other accessories.

Belts can wrap around the interior perimeter of the bag

I always put belts on the side of the bag and lay them around the carry-on's perimeter from inside.

Simply rolling them up takes up unnecessary space.

Go through all your liquid items and make sure they fit within the airport guidelines

Make sure none of your liquids, gels, and aerosols exceed the TSA requirement (generally 3.4 fluid ounces).

Always check specific rules depending on your destination. For example, when traveling to Europe, all liquids need to be presented in a 1-quart clear, plastic zip bag, and you can only have one bag per person.

On my first trip to Europe, all my liquids were the right size, but I had way too many individual bottles. I could only take what could fit in the plastic bag and the rest of my expensive skincare went into the trash can.

Use every bit of space by shoving things in vertically

When it feels like your bag is completely full and you have no space left, just close the bag, put it vertically on its wheels, and unzip the top part a little bit.

I'm always able to push a few more items in because the rest of the clothes shift to the bottom, creating more space on the top.

New toiletry products can explode in cabin pressure, so opt for partially full items

If possible, take bottles with liquids that aren't completely full.

During takeoff and landing, the plane gets pressurized, and there's a good chance a full bottle can pop open and leak during the flight.

When I have full bottles with me, even if they're small, I always wrap them with plastic just for extra protection. Even if the bottle leaks, it will leak inside the wrapping and your clothes won't get ruined.

The biggest traveling mistake is overpacking your carry-on

The key to smart packing is planning your outfits ahead of time.

Take some time and lay out all the clothes you're planning to wear for each day. Try to pick some items that are neutral and can be paired with different outfits, such as comfortable shoes, a plain skirt, or a simple purse.

Make a list for each day, take pictures of all the outfits, and save them on your phone. You can even put each outfit in a separate bag and put a sticker with the day of the week or occasion so you don't have to search through the entire bag.

Make space for an extra bag to use for dirty laundry

Don't forget to pack an extra bag for dirty laundry.

There's nothing worse than mixing clothes in a suitcase. You don't know which pants are clean and which are dirty, and coming home, you just end up having to wash everything.

Rolling clothes really does help save space

I'm not exactly sure how it works, but when you roll your clothes instead of folding them, it takes less space. Plus, clothes tend to end up less wrinkled.

I still can't figure out the science behind it, but after I started to roll my T-shirts, I noticed I have more space.

Compression bags can help you squeeze in bulkier clothing

If you really need to transport a huge amount of clothing, you might want to invest in compression bags.

They work like a vacuum and suck all the air out of the clothes. I've easily fit three airtight bags into one carry-on.

It might sound like a big or annoying extra purchase, but it's cheaper than paying for extra luggage at the airport.


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