How to pack a perfect carry on for 10 days
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Heading on vacation for Spring break? Taking a 10 day cruise? Or maybe a 10 day beach vacation? No matter where you are headed you can pack all your essentials in a carry on. Skeptical? Read on.
Why would you want to pack only a carry on for 10 days?
When the airlines decided to make checking a bag an expensive proposition, we learned how to use carry on bags to save money. When you are traveling as a family of 5 the price to check bags becomes a much bigger expense and we wanted to use our money to do fun things, not to pay for larger bags.
The funny thing is I don’t miss traveling with a large suitcase. Minimalist packing makes the whole journey easier.
I can say that using carry ons has made traveling easier in the long run. No more large suitcases to shove into a small trunk or lug to your hotel or stuff into the tiniest hotel room. No more waiting for luggage at the airport. Travel with a carry on has made travel a sleeker and easier proposition.
I have found that I don’t need as much “stuff” with me on vacation.
In fact, the only time we ever take a large suitcase is when we go on a road trip and it is easy to put all the kids clothes in one huge suitcase.
Carry on rules for airlines
Before you take any flight, make sure to check your airline’s luggage rules. Each airline varies and some have weight restrictions as well as size restrictions.
Most international flights will allow for a carry on measuring:
22 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches.
Most domestic flights in the United States allow you a smaller:
9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches
If you are flying a low cost airline (like Spirit or Frontier), you will have even smaller dimensions or no carry on’s at all. If you fly Spirit airlines, for example, you only get one small personal item. (We traveled to Chicago for a week with just personal items and lived to tell the tale!)
Low cost RyanAir has a a rule that carry ons must weigh less than 10 kg and be within 15.7 x 9.9 x 7.9 inches (40 x 25 x 20 cm). So if you are planning on flying into Dublin and taking Ryanair for the remainder of your trip (like we did when visiting Scotland) you will want to pack for Ryanair carry on sizes or be ready to check your bag. (If you are traveling with kids book through Ryanair’s Family Plus to get around the whole issue of checked bags.)
What carry on bag is the best for a 10 day trip?
We each have our favorite carry on bag and depending on the airline we fly we may choose a different bag. This has been our favorite carry on lately, it is well made, but not exhorbitant in price and it rolls really, really well. The interior is roomy and well thought out.
- A half pound lighter than the maxlite 4 version, this ultra lightweight, ultra durable 22" expandable Rollaboard suitcase maximizes your packing power and meets...
- High performance ball bearing wheels and lightweight yet sturdy power scope Lite handle with stops at 38 inches and 42.5 inches reduce wobble and ensure a...
- Expands upto 2 inches to maximize packing capacity with tapered shape to prevent tipping; Features low profile top, side and bottom carry handles, 2 exterior...
If you want a premium carry on suitcase that you can use for decades I really recommend the Briggs and Riley carry on. It comes with a lifetime guarantee that includes damage done by an airline, something that is rare among luggage makers.
- Strategic placement of ultra durable Permasquare outer fabric in abrasion prone areas. Outside Expanded Depth : 11.5 Inches /29 cm
- VX variable expansion system allows for easily customizable capacity (up to 2.5 inches of extra packing space) and ensures bag will retain its structure and...
- Built in tri fold garment folder with adjUstable foam roll bar neatly holds 1 suit or garment or 1 3 shirts and cinches them securely in place to prevent...
If you are flying RyanAir and not checking a bag, this is a great one. It’s cheap and it holds up trip after trip.
- Dimensions: 16x10x8" (6" main compartment) / Capacity: 19L / Weighs Only 1.1lbs
- Adjustable shoulder carry strap - extra support and flexible to fit all sizes
- Extra zip pocket on front to help sort extra items such as passports/tickets/ adaptors/toiletries/tissues etc
Best packing cubes for a carry on
If you have watched the video at the beginning of the post you will know that I used to think packing cubes were lame. I thought it was an extra that people who never travelled bought to feel like they were professional travelers.
I changed my tune when I was gifted some and tried them on a weekend trip to Saratoga Springs. Packing cubes are the best!! Especially when you aren’t staying in one location for the duration of the trip. You can always find your pants, always find your underwear, always find your bathing suits, because they are in an assigned packing cube. You can even unpack the cubes into dressers at each location and then throw them back in right before you leave. Easy peasy.
I am not a neat person by nature, I think that gene was left out in utero. But I love that the packing cubes make me appear neat and keeps my suitcase from vomiting out its contents all over the hotel room. My husband who was given extra neat genes, loves them for the same reason.
I don’t know if one is better than another, but I know that cute packing cubes make me happy, and my boys like boring, plain ones.
Here are some fun options:
- THE PACKING CUBES FOR EVERYWHERE YOU GO - 3 X Packing Cubes, 3 X Laundry Pouch, Bonus Gift for Shoe Bag, with Small, Medium and Large sizes. Ideal for active...
- HIGH QUALITY - Premium quality thicker nylon fabric with elegant pattern, easy two-way YKK zippers and stitching, definitely most well-made and durable travel...
- SAVE YOUR SPACE IN YOUR LUGGAGE/BAG - Large interior volume holds all your travel clothing, shoes, makeup, shaving accessories and more. Multiple mesh bags to...
- ERGONOMIC DESIGN & DURABLE QUALITY: Features a sturdy and rigid structure. We use durable materials to ensure that it can serve you for years and still look...
- ★7 PIECES (19''+15''x3+14''x2+12'') PACKAGING CUBES of different compression cell sizes get all your item types covered. Pack more of your luggages in limited...
- ★UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY: Carry on the smart cubes to turn over-stuffed suitcase into neatly organized space, try your combo with different bag sizes or...
- ★PREMIUM HIGH QUALYTY: Featuring durable zippers that hold the bags together with firm stitches neatly aligned. Made with water resistant material, and...
or you can get compression bags if you are carrying bulky sweaters, just be careful about not going over any weight limits!
These ones are really amazing! They compress down to almost nothing.
- EASY TO USE! Compression packing cubes help you with packaging your clothes for upcoming trips by compressing the air out of them. These are not your typical...
- LUGGAGE ORGANIZER! Compression packing bags are a packing essential for travel-especially useful as a backpack, luggage and suitcase organizer. Keep different...
- TOUGHER THAN THE OTHER GUYS! Our ripstop Polyurethane fabric stands up to nonstop travel. It is ultra lightweight and durable and as well as being more reliable...
Tips and tricks to make packing a carry on easy
Leak proof shampoo and lotion
I pack all of my lotion, shampoo and conditioner in small leak proof bottles. That way I never worry about it spilling all over my clothes. I keep the bottles in the zip up bag they come with to give me complete peace of mind.
I have even carried baby food in them for when my kids were little as they are food safe!
You will have to pull these out for security screening, so keep them toward the top of your carry on or place them in an outside zipper pocket and after screening move them to the interior.
I always wear my bulkiest shoes on the plane and pack what ever is thinnest and lightest. (Although you don’t see it on the video, I grabbed some sandals and slipped them into the outside pocket of my carry on.) If you want to protect your clothes from them, you can slide them in a plastic bag, or buy a specific carrying bag. (Some packing cube kits come with a shoe bag.)
If you want to buy a reusable bag (why not be green if we can?) I like these, because they are pretty.
- Material: Made of high quality Oxford for convenient organization; Waterproof;Dust-proof ,Damp proof,Anti dirty;insect prevention,simple and convenient
- Large Capacity：4 Packs for 4 color,Suitable for Slippers, Sandals, Leather shoes high heel shoes, boots etc. Perfect organizer for both men and women
- With Hanging hand and Zipper Closure :Hanging on hand makes it easier for you to travel. Zip design is more stylish
Dirty clothes bag
This is another must pack for me because it helps me stay a bit more organized. (Also not shown on the video because it was packed in my underwear packing cube.) I like the kind that fold up to be a tiny square but open to be big enough to fit all of my clothes.
- TRAVEL LAUNDRY BAG – Must-have souvenirs, endless photos, and dirty laundry – three guarantees from your next trip. With this Miamica Laundry Bag, you’ll...
- EXPANDABLE DESIGN – Cute and efficient, this portable laundry bag is an essential travel accessory for long trips and weekend getaways alike. It starts out...
- DURABLE, YET LIGHTWEIGHT – The lightweight, yet durable material of this laundry pouch is tear and moisture-resistant. Plus, it’s machine washable for easy...
It is useful for each family member to have one, especially if you are moving from hotel to hotel. It keeps dirty and clean separate and it makes it easy to grab all the dirty clothes if you are headed to a laundromat.
I bought a few at TJmax for my boy last year. They were on clearance so they have sayings like “dirty knickers” and “hot mama”. They laugh hysterically every time we pull them out!!
I have had a few questions about the suitcase I use in the video. It is one of my favorites but I rarely mention it because you can’t buy it anymore. It is the brand French West Indies and I bought it at Target 6 years ago. I loved how colorful it was and it was a perfect carry on size. It has held up well, but the fabric is starting to show some age.
If you can’t live without it you could try looking on Ebay or Poshmark to see if someone is selling one.
Packing for kids
Packing a carry on for the kids is much the same as for an adult. The only thing I would add is extra underwear, a few layering pieces and a few travel games.
Is it possible to pack only a carry on for 10 days in Europe?
Not only is it possible, we have done it multiple times. In the video above, it shows me packing for Italy in a carry on. I took exactly what was on the video to Italy for 10 days. In addition, I packed a backpack so I could have things on hand easily.
When you are thinking of carry on travel, you need to make sure you are book in an Airbnb with a washing machine, or access to a laundromat. Aside from that you need to have a really good packing list and you stick to it!
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Last update on 2023-05-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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