Skip to main content
2 min.

After several years of carrying heavy luggage and too many useless clothes, I’m now team carry-on! No matter how long the trip, I’ve become super efficient at deciding what I need and fitting everything in my Cabin Zero backpack.

I only make this exception for sporty adventures far north, as I did for my February sailing trip in Norway or my dog-sledge safari in Lapland in December. I still pack my carry-on backpack but check all the technical heavy equipment.

Here’s what I do.

General packing tips

I use waterproof vacuum-sealed bags to easily and quickly sort my colour-coordinated clothing and shoes according to my needs (swimwear, nightwear, sports, etc.) and always add an empty one for the wet or dirty laundry.

I recommend those that look like dry cleaner bags to keep fancier clothes from wrinkling. You pop one item on the other (usually summer or night-out dresses, in my case) and fold them all on top of your backpack. The air in the bags stops the friction, and your clothes don’t wrinkle.

I have been rolling sporty, no-wrinkle clothes for a few years rather than folding them to save space.

Also, my waterproof transparent toiletries bag is always ready to go, and I re-checked it at the last minute to add more shampoo, body lotion, or other items.

The best carry-on travel bags

Before you start packing, you’ll have to find the right carry-on bag. Here are a few essential things to keep in mind.

The first and most crucial aspect to consider is size. The general rule is that it must fit under your seat or in the overhead enclosed storage compartment on the plane. I got my Cabin Zero backpack years ago because Ryanair confirmed that it was the one they would always accept, and being the strictest airline company, it guarantees that it’s okay on any other.

Sometimes, I wish I had a small trolley, mainly while visiting European capitals and during short trips to big cities, but I’ve seen them refused at the last second during boarding procedures, and based on where I’m travelling, a backpack feels more practical.

If you carry electronics like a laptop, iPad, Kindle, or other tablets, your carry-on must have a separate, padded compartment for secure packing. This feature ensures that your devices are easily accessible during security checks, where you must remove and place them in the X-ray tray. It’s a small detail but provides an invaluable sense of security when travelling.

Essential items for your carry-on bag

If you do decide to check a bag, some items are just better in your carry-on luggage:

  • Prescriptions and medications.
  • Contact lenses or glasses.
  • Valuables like jewellery, wallets, passports, IDs and boarding passes.
  • Cameras, laptops, Kindle (or your book) and smartphones.
  • Headphones to watch TV or movies on a more extended flight or to listen to music and podcasts.
  • Chargers for electronics.
  • A printed itinerary or hotel and flight confirmations, just in case.
  • A set of clothing and an essential toiletries bag for the first day upon arrival in case your checked baggage goes missing.

Remember that box cutters, utility knives, scissors, and razors are forbidden.

For a detailed packing list, I recommend this blog post I wrote a while ago, as well as its freezing destinations version.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.