Packing lightly is a struggle for most travelers. However, if you are traveling this holiday season, packing smartly and only bringing a carry-on will save you time and hassle. If you follow these tips and tricks for packing lightly, you have a better chance of avoiding wasting time and money.

Make a List and Pack Early

Writing a list with everything you want and need to bring on your trip is a great tool. Making a list before packing helps prevent you from forgetting any necessities and it allows you to rethink how much you are packing. It is also helpful to pack ahead of time. Give yourself enough time to look over the pieces you’re bringing. Laying all your items in a way that allows you to see everything will help you lighten your load and prevent you from bringing extras that you could probably go without. Plus, by packing ahead of time, you’ll give yourself enough leeway to pack your bag thoughtfully.

Pack Necessities First

Pack what you need before what you want. This again not only prevents you from forgetting necessary items but it makes you see how much more you can pack. Don’t forget to pack toiletries and make sure these liquids follow TSC regulations. Airports restrict liquid/gel items in your carry-on to bottles no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters), and all containers must fit within a single quart-size zippered, clear plastic bag. While you should pack toiletries first, do not bury the plastic bag in your luggage. When you go through airport security, liquids (and laptops) must be checked separately.

Wear Bulky Items

Layering up for your trip is the best way to bring more clothing without having to sacrifice luggage space. Pack for the best-case scenario and simply buy yourself out of any jams. Bring layers rather than taking a heavy coat, but if you need to bring a heavy jacket or sweater, wear it on the plane.

Clothing Tips

Packing clothing is not the same as folding them. Rolling clothing is one trick that backpackers swear by. This trick minimizes wrinkles and maximizes space. When packing shoes, be mindful that they take up a lot of space. I recommend using a shower cap to cover the bottom of dirty shoes. One of the easiest but often overlooked travel tips is putting heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase, meaning closer to the wheels. It’s easier to roll a bag through long airport hallways when the weight is at the bottom.


Managing to squeeze everything you in a single carry-on (and perhaps a personal item) is a talent. Packing requires practicality because you must carefully decide what to bring but also how to strategically pack it.

Paul Deloughery is an law insurance dispute consultant and avid traveler. Check out his latest Travel blog or visit his Twitter!