How to pack your carry-on baggage: 14 steps (with pictures)

How to pack your carry-on baggage: 14 steps (with pictures)
How to pack your carry-on baggage: 14 steps (with pictures)

If you're going to be stuck in a metal tube thousands of feet in the air for several hours, you still don't want to be bored! A perfectly prepared carry-on baggage is the only thing that will separate you from boredom.


Method 1 of 2: Pack carry-on baggage for the day

In the cabin, you may, with some airlines, put a small bag under the front passenger seat, while you will place larger bags or suitcases in the compartment above your head. You are generally allowed to have two carry-on bags (one hand baggage and one computer). However, you can choose to put more baggage in the hold and only take a light bag in the cabin. To learn how to prepare a carry-on suitcase, go to step 2.

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 1

Step 1. Choose the right bag

Make sure your bag is sturdy, easy to carry, and can fit whatever you want to take. The most important thing is that this bag corresponds to the dimensions imposed by the airline. Check the company regulations to find out the maximum size allowed for carry-on baggage. If you don't always fly on the same company, choose a bag that you will be allowed to take on different companies. To find out if you can take your bag into the cabin, try to assess whether the bag will fit under the passenger seat in front of you.

  • The holiday bag: the ideal cabin bag for the holidays is a bag with several pockets. It will be very convenient to keep all your things separate: one pocket for your wallet and phone, one pocket for your makeup, another for your book, etc. A large purse, satchel or satchel are good options that will give you enough room to take all your stuff and usually have multiple pockets.
  • The Business Bag: As you may have guessed, a briefcase will be an ideal carry-on baggage for a business man or woman. Find one that you can grab under your arm in case you have to run to catch your flight. And preferably choose a briefcase with several pockets and compartments, for your keys, phone, wallets, etc.
  • The child's / teenager's / student's bag: think backpack! Backpacks are perfect for carrying your computer, class books, loose class notes, and toys. Thanks to the zipper, you can be sure that all your belongings stay inside and you will avoid losing your Gameboy or a very important class book.
Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 2

Step 2. Make a list of everything you will need to pack

Start with the essentials, then move on to distractions and work tools. The essentials include your passport or identity card (depending on whether it is a domestic or international flight), your wallet with cash or a credit card, your phone, any medications you are taking and of course, your plane ticket. You could also take the following.

  • Your work or study tools: this could include a computer, your phone and the necessary cables, your work notes, your course notes, your homework, any readings you have to complete for the lessons.
  • Your entertainment: books, headphones and an iPod, your camera, a Gameboy, DVDs to watch on your computer, magazines, a travel guide to your destination, toys, etc.
  • Medicines and toiletries: It is best to keep any medicines you may need to take with you. You might also consider bringing an extra pair of contact lenses, mouthwash, etc.
  • To help you sleep: a neck pillow, a mask, earplugs. Inflatable neck pillows are ideal because they take up very little space when deflated.
Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 3

Step 3. Consider preparing for a bad stopover

If you find yourself stranded overnight during your layover or your hold baggage gets lost (pray to the Gods of Travel that doesn't happen), you'll be glad to have some business with you. You could put all of these items in a separate bag inside your carry-on luggage. Consider for example:

toothbrush and toothpaste, brush or comb, clean underwear, socks and deodorant

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 4

Step 4. Make sure all your electronics and fragile items are protected

Cabin baggage is usually very busy, so protecting your valuables is essential. If you are taking your computer or tablet, make sure you have a suitable protective envelope.

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 5

Step 5. Pack your liquids properly

Be aware that most liquids are not allowed on board. You will need to place your liquid products in a transparent, resealable 1 L plastic bag. Each passenger is entitled to one of these bags. Inside the bag, your liquids are limited to 100ml bottles, so don't plan on carrying a huge bottle of sunscreen.

You can place your bottled liquid products in your checked baggage or purchase the liquid products you need upon arrival at your destination. Buy your bottled water and other drinks after going through security

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 6

Step 6. Place important items in places that are easy to access

You will need to show your ticket and passport at least twice during your trip, so it is important to keep them in a place where you can easily access them. Pack these essentials first, but don't put them in the bottom of your bag.

Position your laptop so that it is easily accessible, so it can be taken out during security checks. Most of the time, you will need to take your computer out of your bag to pass it through the scanner. The same goes for cases containing your toiletries

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 7

Step 7. Pack entertainment to kill boredom

Once you've got all the essentials in your bag, put the entertainment items in there. Putting them last will ensure that the things you really need fit in your bag. Don't overfill your bag, you don't want to have to carry 15 kilos! Make sure your bag is closed to avoid losing your things.

Find out about your airline. Some planes have built-in entertainment systems, some show movies, and some don't even serve a meal. Bring the items you will need depending on what you will have on board

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 8

Step 8. Wear warm clothes on the plane

On the plane, it is always preferable to have a sweatshirt or jacket, as the temperature is usually freezing. And if not, you can still tie your sweater around your bag or your waist.

Method 2 of 2: Prepare a carry-on suitcase

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 9

Step 1. Choose your suitcase wisely

Each company has its own rules for the size of baggage allowed in the cabin, but most companies limit baggage size to 55 x 35 x 25 cm. If you have a 50 cm long trolley, you will pass easily: it is the ideal size of a piece of luggage to place in the upper compartment. Go to your company's website to know the specific rules of this company.

Also, try to get a suitcase that only has two wheels, as suitcases with 4 wheels tend to go all over the place (especially if you drop your suitcase when you are on the bus that takes you to the plane)

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 10

Step 2. Take out all the clothes you want to take with you

Once you've taken them out… reduce the amount in half. Travel light, since you will need to fit all of your belongings in a tiny suitcase. Do you really need 3 pants and 10 t-shirts? Probably not. Take only what you really need. Also prefer light clothes that you can layer. Denim is heavier than cotton, so consider the weight of the clothes you pack.

  • Coordinate the colors of your outfit. This will allow you to compose more outfits with the clothes you take with you. Remember black goes with everything!
  • If you're really struggling to limit the amount of clothes you pack, try following this rule: T-shirts can be worn for 2 days, and shorts and pants for 3 days. Apply this rule to the clothes you've taken out and see if you can pack less.
Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 11

Step 3. Plan your toiletries

Since you are taking your carry-on baggage, you will likely be limited by the resealable plastic bag mentioned above. You can also bring a bag for your dry products such as makeup, deodorant, etc. For larger items, consider purchasing them once you arrive at your destination or using the free items provided by hotels.

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 12

Step 4. Prepare your travel attire before putting your clothes in the suitcase

Carry your heaviest clothes on the plane so you don't have to tuck them into your suitcase. Wear your jeans and jacket or sweater, as well as your heaviest shoes, in order to have more space in your luggage.

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 13

Step 5. Pack your electronics, entertainment, and other small items in your bag, rather than in your suitcase

After all, you are entitled to two cabin bags, one that you put in the compartment over your head (your suitcase) and another that you put under the front passenger seat (your bag). Refer to Method 1 for tips on properly packing your cabin bag.

Pack Your Carry on Bag Step 14

Step 6. Pack smart

There are several ways to pack your bags efficiently. Use one method or combine several. Make sure you have everything you need to take out during security checks handy (like toiletries). Here are some techniques.

  • The winding method. Roll, roll, roll your pants tight! Rolling your clothes is a good way to save space, especially compared to simple folding. It also helps prevent wrinkling or damaging your clothes.
  • Use compression bags. These bags can be bought in many supermarkets. Place your clothes inside, close them, then squeeze them to extract all the air. You will be surprised how little space your clothes will take up.
  • Place objects in every nook and cranny. Place your socks in your shoes, dresses in an empty space, etc. Your suitcase won't be the most organized, but you will have everything you need.


  • If you are chilly, pack a light blanket or sweater.
  • Consider packing a snack for the flight. As long as it's packaged and not liquid, you should be able to take it on board.
  • Make sure you pack your electronics and enough cash for an emergency.
  • Be sure to check with your carrier for carry-on baggage weight and size restrictions.
  • Find out about cabin baggage restrictions. Some companies will allow you to take a computer or handbag in addition to your carry-on baggage. Others might only allow one bag and might be very strict about this limitation. Find out in advance instead of having to put your bag in the hold at the last moment.

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