How to Maximize Your Carry-On Space


This used to be something most travelers didn’t spare a single thought about. A problem that only affected price-conscious people flying on low-cost carriers. But nowadays the game has changed. The majority of airlines introduced them on most of their routes: fares that do not include any checked baggage allowance.

Ryanair and others took it one step further and won’t even let you bring a decent-sized piece of hand luggage on board. But also if you buy a discounted economy ticket from a renowned carrier, you will have to settle for a small bag or suitcase that will fit into the overhead compartment. The only option if you want to bring more: paying extra.

With airfares being so low, a surcharge of €100 can easily make up for one-quarter of the overall price. And that’s why many travelers are looking for ways to avoid those costs. But even if you don’t have to pay extra, you might want to travel light and skip the wait at the luggage belt after your arrival. So we figured we’d put together a list of ideas we could think of that will help you get the most out of your carry-on.

Get the Right Suitcase

Obviously, this is the first and most important step if you want to get the most out of your checked baggage allowance. Since you can only bring one suitcase or larger bag on board, it is essential to choose the right one.

Start with checking the regulations of the airline you’ll be traveling with. Many carriers have similar rules and requirements when it comes to luggage you may take with you when boarding. But there are exceptions. So you should know which airlines you’ll fly with the most and buy your suitcase accordingly.

Note that sometime, the fancy trolley might not be the best choice. Bags that can be deformed to a certain degree can sometimes make more sense. Also, there are no wheels or handles that could take up space.

Use Best Technique for Packing

Once you have a bag or a suitcase that will maximize the space an airline gives you for your carry-on, you’ll have to start thinking about getting the most out of the space inside your luggage.

Typically, the majority of things your packing will be clothing. Consequently, that’s what you should focus on. Just bringing stuff you really need is a no-brainer. But even once you’ve cut down as far as possible, the right technique is still important.

Laundry bags and especially special vacuum storage bags are a great option. The latter will allow you to reduce the space that your clothing needs by up to 60% or even more! A small downside is that the package gets hard once you’ve sucked out all the air. So it’s not really flexible anymore. Still, the savings are worth it.

If you’re not willing to spend the extra money one of those vacuum storage bags, you should consider rolling your clothes to fit as many as possible. Also, folding your stuff to the smallest size can be a great technique. It is vital to play Tetris with your clothes. You have to use every inch of your suitcase!


What’s your personal packing technique? Is there a special trick that works great for you? We’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

Think About Your Toiletries

Don’t worry. We’re not going to try and convince you that you shouldn’t bring any cosmetics or toiletries with you. Personal hygiene is essential, especially when traveling. But all your deodorants, toothbrushes, and cremes take up space. Space you don’t want to waste.

So ask yourself: what will I definitely need right away. Maybe even on my trip or at least once I arrived at my destination? And are there things I could possibly get once I’m there? Do I really need to 100 ml sized creme? Or can I just use a small container and bring the amount I will use during my trip?

Another space saver could be things like a toothbrush or a hairbrush. Maybe a comb will be sufficient. And you might want to leave your electric toothbrush at home and bring a regular one.

Wear More Clothes

This is something you can consider when traveling in winter or to a colder destination. If you’re bringing snow boots or a heavy jacket, it’s definitely not the best idea to pack these into your carry-on. If you wear them, they won’t count towards your allowance. And you’re prepared for the cold weather after your arrival. Besides, you can always take them off once you’re on board.

Of course, you can also take advantage of this “loophole” on all other trips. The clothing you wear is not carry-on. So you could put on a few layers and save space in your bag. But we wouldn’t recommend this way of traveling. Arriving somewhere covered in sweat is not very pleasant. And if your clothes are smelly right at the beginning of our vacation, you might as well have left them at home.

What always makes sense is to use your pockets when traveling. You can store a lot of small items in there if need be. And unless you completely overdo it and try to bring a laptop on bord that way, you shouldn’t run into any problems.

Make use of Your Personal Item

The personal item can be a hidden gem when it comes to carry-on allowance. Often overlooked, this additional piece of luggage can get you extra space for all sorts of things.

First, you need to check with the airline again to be sure that you can actually bring a personal item. And you will want to know which size this bag can be. In most cases, there are exact requirements. And also the rule that this item has to fit under the seat in front of you. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it really has to go there. But you should be prepared that case.

Some frequent travelers perfected the use of the personal item. Lucky from One Mile at a Time, for example, explains that this was a real game-changer for him.

Overthink Your Packing List

Okay, this point may seem somewhat unnecessary. Naturally, everyone thinks about what to bring and what not. But if your goal is to travel with a carry-on, only you should questions your packing list several times. And maybe become creative.

We’ve mentioned the example with the toothbrush and comb. But there are other things you could consider. Like the possibility of washing stuff at your destination. Maybe you’re staying with relatives, or there is a laundromat near the hotel?

Will you really need your laptop and your iPad for the two weeks of vacation? Won’t those snapshots turn out fine, even without your reflex camera? Everything that can stay at home should remain at home. That’s more ar less the golden rule when it comes to traveling with hand luggage.

Bottom Line

Using only a carry-on bag on your trips can save you time and money. So it’s something everyone might want to look into. Especially, since you don’t have to spare important stuff, if you stick to some of the tips, we mentioned here.

A short – and definitely not representative – survey here at Travel Deals showed that some of us travel up to two weeks with only a carry-on bag. Of course, it depends on where you’re headed for. And maybe some people will just need more stuff than others. But it still shows: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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  1. Karen says:

    Dude learn English

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