Creative Tips for Getting More Space Out of Your Carry-On

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I just bought a new, airline-approved, carry-on roller bag. Oh, my! It fits — with room to spare — inside my no-longer-approved carry-on that my flight attendant sister gave me ages ago. Even though it’s the exact model that she used in her daily travels for years, the airlines say it’s simply too generous now.

Times have certainly changed in carry-on land — and I realized that my packing must follow suit if I want to avoid $100 in checked-baggage fees for my upcoming trips this summer. But as I looked at my new bag, I just didn’t see that happening, unless I surrendered to the idea of swapping between two outfits over a 10-day trip. Or, I could get a little creative. I was aware of Ziploc® brand travel Space Bags®, so I checked them out online, and lucky me — there are some great tips for packing in tight spaces on the Ziploc® Fresh 180 challenge site. Sign me up!

Pack Smarter, Not Harder
The first tip sounds like a no-brainer until you actually try to do it — pare down your traveling must-haves into a few sensible, coordinated separates. Minimalist-living devotees should have no problem with this, but I am anything but a minimalist. After a few tough decisions, I finally had a very small stack of suitable do-it-all separates that I can layer and mix-and-match, so I won’t appear to be wearing a travel uniform each day. I even reduced the shoe pile to three pairs: dressy heels, casual flats and crossover athletic sandals. I’ll wear one pair for traveling — probably the crossovers — because I’d sacrifice sexy for comfort at the airport any day.

Put a Belt on It
The second tip is to add pop and variety to your basics with stylish accessories such as belts, scarves, jewelry and such that don’t take up a lot of space. Again, it’s seemingly a no-brainer until you put it into action. That’s where, for me, the best tip of this challenge comes into play: Snap pictures of outfit ideas with your cellphone for a ready reference on the go. This is brilliant! Laid out on the bed, mix-and-match seems so easy. But when you’re running late for a dinner meeting after sightseeing, the mind goes blank. No worries! Just pull up your travel wardrobe gallery on your phone and you’re set to make the meeting on time and in style.

Don’t Forget Your Secret Weapon
The challenge tip to bring a bit of powdered detergent in a Ziploc® brand Storage Bag to extend your wardrobe over several days is a smart one, too. Powdered soap is far safer for traveling than a mini bottle of liquid detergent and more effective than trying to hand-wash using the hotel’s bar soap. Been there on both, so take my advice and take along the powdered version.

Build From the Bottom Up

When it comes to tidy packing, again, it’s Ziploc® brand bags to the rescue. Ziploc® brand Space Bags® easily accommodate a few pairs of shoes — and I discovered a nifty trick. I put my dressy heels and flats against the edges of a Ziploc® brand Space Bag®, and then packed the rest of the bag inside my suitcase, using more challenge tips. I placed the bulkiest items in the bag first and then rolled up smaller items to fill in the gaps. After all was done, I didn’t even need my new Ziploc® brand travel Space Bags® with the clever one-way valve to roll out air, but I packed one anyway in case I returned with a few fabulous finds.

Call in Backup
The last tip in the challenge is to make the most of your allowed “personal item” by filling it with anything that didn’t make it into the main bag. Because this combination purse, briefcase and toiletries bag gets pretty heavy, I made sure that the bag I chose could sit atop my roller bag to save my shoulder. The challenge also advises that you wear your bulkiest items on the flight, which is a good idea, especially when a flight is on the chilly side. I mean, seriously, your own duds beat an icky airline blanket any day.

So after popping my security-approved quart-sized Ziploc® brand Storage Bag containing lotions and such into my personal bag, I was all packed up for a 10-day trip in less than 3 square feet. Impressive! I wonder if I can apply the same self-control to my shopping along the way. Hmmm, I doubt it.

Disclaimer: I was paid to develop this post and to provide related images for Ziploc®. As always, all opinions are my own.


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