Keep Calm and Carry-On: A handy guide to packing light

Travel is one of my main addictions, and because I’ve done a fair amount of it, I’ve had both good and bad experiences when it comes to the actual process.  To avoid as much complication as possible, I try to follow one general rule, especially when it comes to plane travel: carry-on luggage only.

I’ll break the rule every few years under very specific circumstances, but I’ve found that my travel stress and organization issues are far fewer when I pack light and carry on.  I’ve also found that people are usually surprised that I can pack just a carry on for trips longer than a few days.  So I figured I’d show everyone how it’s done.

Pick the perfect carry on

The key to packing light is starting with a great suitcase.  Size, weight, wheels, and packing room are the key factors to look for when picking a new carry-on suitcase.


Different airlines have different rules when it comes to carry on size and weight, so it’s a good idea to do some research before investing in a suitcase. Here’s a handy website that aggregates sizing from multiple airlines.


Just like with size, different airlines have different rules when it comes to carry-on luggage weight.  If you’re like me, then you’ll want to conserve as much of that precious weight on what you’re packing, and not the vessel that you’re packing.

Packing Room

Just like with weight, you want a carry on that fits as much of your stuff as possible.  Pick a bag that maximizes interior space while keeping your stuff organized.


Depending on your mobility, strength, and comfort level, you may be fine with a traditional two-wheeled carry-on bag or you may prefer a 4 wheeled “spinner” bag.  I recommend “test driving” different models of bags to see what suits you best before you buy.

I highly recommend the Lexicon Hardside Global Carry-On from Victorinox Swiss Army.  It’s the most technically advanced suitcase I’ve ever used.  It was super smooth and easy to either pull behind me, push ahead of me or to gently roll alongside me thanks to its 8(!) wheels.  I was able to comfortably pack for a weeklong trip thanks to its new molding technology that allows its wheels and handles to be super recessed, maximizing packing room.  For security, the Lexicon features an integrated Travel Sentry® Approved combination lock, durable virgin polycarbonate construction and dual coil zippers.  The coolest part?  The Swiss Army knife inspired integrated multi-tool, that includes a USB port, pen and SIM card replacement tool.  Yes, you can charge your devices right from your suitcase!  All this, and in a super sleek titanium colored package – I felt like the most savvy and stylish traveller at the airport.  Click here to check it out for yourself!


Create a travel toiletry kit

It’s usually carry on liquid limits that turn people off of packing light, but there’s an easy solution to that: create a travel toiletry kit.  You don’t need to bring a 500 ml bottle of shampoo for a week-long trip, so why would you?  Decant your products into small, travel sized bottles, pick up sample or travel sized items where possible, and replenish what you use up between trips.  Make sure your liquids are all in bottles 100 ml or smaller, and that they all fit in a 1 L baggie in your carry on.  For more info on liquid carry on restrictions click here.

For makeup wearers, it works the same way:  make a travel cosmetics kit using sample sized items, decant things like foundation into smaller containers that you can top up, and invest in a travel sized brush kit.  I like to look out for Gift with purchase events of my favorite cosmetics brands, since those are a goldmine of tiny versions of the products you already love that are perfect for travel!

Make a packing plan

You’ve got your perfect suitcase, now it’s time to pack it. But before you do, PLAN AHEAD.  Figure out what you’ll be doing on your trip and pick clothing, shoes and accessories that will suit those plans.  Try to re-use wherever possible, especially bulky items like jeans and shoes, and plan your outfits accordingly.  Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes on the plane so you don’t have to figure out how to pack them, and make sure the shoes you do pack go with different outfits.

Roll your clothing

Yes, it’s true, rolling your clothing is truly the most efficient way to pack.  I don’t quite get the physics behind it, but it works!  It also helps save your clothing from getting crushed and wrinkled in transit.


Once finished, remove one item

My packing process always starts with me flinging clothing into a growing pile on top of my empty suitcase.  I then pare the haphazard pile down, coordinating outfits in my head while removing items I know I won’t actually wear and rolling up what I will into my suitcase. Once I think I’m finished, I pull out at least one item that I’m on the fence about, because if I’m unsure now, chances are I won’t use it.  No wasted space and I even gain a bit of room for anything I may want to bring back from my trip.


Got any light packing tips of your own?  Share them with us on social media @weraddicted and @thenadiae!

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.
Nadia Elkharadly