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It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting the road for a budget-friendly getaway or taking off for a last-minute family emergency, traveling can get expensive. Packing light is a way you can avoid pricey airline baggage fees after you’ve done all you can to save on your flight. Here are some tips for getting there with just the clothes on your back and smartly packed luggage.

For domestic airlines, the standard for a carry-on suitcase is 22” tall by 14” wide by 9” deep­—or smaller! If you’re an expert at stuffing your backpack with your every need, just be sure you haven’t overstuffed your trusty travel companion by measuring its height and width before you leave the house. There also may or may not be a weight limit for carry-ons, so check with your airline! It’s better to be safe than have to offload any of your things before you reach your gate.


Remember, too, that you cannot carry on any liquids (pastes, gels, creams, or aerosols) of more than 3.4 oz. Anything over that limit will get confiscated at the security check point. You can review the complete list of TSA packing restrictions by visiting online or talking to your airline. If there will be toiletries available at your destination, that’s even better! Not packing soap, shampoo, and the like will really lighten your load.


With all that in mind, here are five tips to help you save by packing only a carry-on or suitcase for travel.

  • Choose clothing items that will serve more than one purpose. Items in neutral colors are ideal because they’re easiest to mix and match or wear as layers if you need to add warmth. Add an accessory or two if you want to personalize each outfit.
  • Use packing cubes or compression bags inside your suitcase. You can cube things together by outfit, or type of item. It’s up to you! Use your cubes in whatever way makes it easy to find what you need.
  • Don’t fold your clothes, roll your clothes! Rolling your clothes creates fewer wrinkles and optimizes space in your backpack or suitcase. There are lots of video tutorials online if you need help visualizing how it works, so do a web search to learn some techniques.
  • Pack your shoes. Well, yes, pack some extra shoes. But also pack things inside your shoes. That valuable space is great for socks, belts, and other small odds and ends. And be sure the shoes you pack are versatile, comfortable. Wear the bulkier pair and pack the other pair.
  • Plan it out. Don’t pack anything for “just in case.” Have a plan for everything that’s happening when you get there and then pack accordingly.

Now, that you’re packed and ready to go, don’t forget to use the bathroom before leaving the house. Oh, and bon voyage!