Skip to Content

Tips for Traveling with Only a Carry-on

Traveling with only a carry-on is something I had never done successfully until recently. I was invited to my very first press trip and going solo so, I was determined to not check any bags. Not to mention I was going to be gone for less than 48 hours. It would be silly to check bags.

Colorful clouds in the sky.

I have always been a notorious over-packer. I am the person who usually has to pay the overweight fee and everything. It’s obnoxious and unnecessary but I just seriously lack packing skills.

Packing for this trip was a breeze and I accomplished my goal of traveling with only a carry-on. Several products helped me do this. Here’s what I used and how I made it happen:

Genius Packer carry on packed for a trip.

Tips to Travel with Just a Carry-On

  • Get a great carry-on bag. I have a Genius Packer and just love it. It has several compartments, a list of things you might need, and just so much more. It really does help you pack like a genius.
  • Be careful with liquids. I purchased a handy kit by Flight 001 on that is made to be airline-appropriate. I had no clue, so it was an enormous help. Plus, you have to put all liquids in the bin during security, so just putting the whole kit out there was extra convenient.
  • Pack outfits into cubes. Using cubes to pack is not only a space-saver, but also helped keep me organized. I set out my outfits for each event and then placed them into a packing cube. Packing outfits is always when my packing plan derails. Putting them into the cubes made it easier for me to stay on track.
  • Keep gadgets together. If you bring an iPad, tablet, or other devices that need to go into the bin during security, keep them so that they are easy to grab. I put my iPad and Kindle Paperwhite into a soft case and kept it in my purse. Phones can stay in your purse. It was easy for me to just pull the items out, put them in the bin, and quickly go through the line. If you don’t carry a purse, there are front zipper spots in the Genius Packer that would work as well.
  • Get comfy slip-on shoes. Thank goodness flats are so in right now. I got a cute, cheap, and seriously comfortable pair from Wet Seal. They were so easy to slip on and off through security and also easy to walk in. No blisters or issues at all.
  • Bring a travel blanket. Clearly, not a necessity, but it’s funny and cute, so I had to share. Products that make me laugh are a huge win in my book, so I had to have this travel blanket. I ended up with the window seat on one my flights, so it made for an excellent pillow.
Funny travel blanket.

After I was all packed and super proud for packing with just a carry-on, guess what happened… They made me check the dang bag.

The flight I was on was so packed that they ran out of overhead bin space and made people check their carry-ons.

But, technically, I still did it! I still managed to control my over-packing tendencies and use just a carry-on. 😉

Do you have any tips for traveling with a carry-on only? Did I miss anything?

Nicole Henry

Thursday 12th of November 2015

Great advice! We are leaving for vacay tomorrow and this is a perfect read! Thank you!!!


Thursday 28th of May 2015

Great post! Everyone needs to learn to pack light. This is a great little guide!

David Fultner

Tuesday 14th of April 2015

You are prepared. thanks for the tips.

Ronald G

Friday 20th of March 2015

I have only flown 3 times in 63 years..all short hops so I did not require more than a carry on...but you make some tremendous suggestions that I will copy just in case

David Fultner

Thursday 5th of February 2015

Thanks this will help.