In recent years, popularity around travelling with only a carry-on bag has increased tremendously. Travellers are looking to save on hefty luggage prices and cut down on time spent in airports waiting for their baggage to arrive on the pick-up carrousel.

Before you opt for zero checked bags on your next flight, there are a few things to keep in mind.

How to pack only a carry-on

Size

You can find luggage size charts online that specify the different size allowances for each airline. However, airlines are constantly updating these sizes, so we suggest asking your travel specialist or checking directly on your airline website. The most popular size of carry-on luggage sold and accepted by airlines is 22″ x 14″ x 9″. If you are looking to buy a new piece of carry-on luggage, we suggest sticking with 22″ x 14″ x 9″ as it will then be a versatile bag for future travel. We also suggest looking for a carry-on bag that has two internal zipped pockets to maximize space and organization within your bag.

Contents

Packing a carry-on is slightly different than a checked bag. You will still need to ensure that you have enough clothing/personal items for your trip at the same time as you consider the TSA guidelines for carry-on luggage. Each country has a slightly different policy for what is acceptable onboard. To be safe, review the guidelines above and pack all liquids/gels (100ml or smaller), make-up and electronics in a plastic bag and place in an easy to access spot within your bag, ready to be removed for inspection.

Accessibility

In addition to items that you may need to remove for inspection, carry-on bags should be packed strategically. Anything that you will need onboard the plane should be stored near the top of your bag or in your personal item. Never keep your passport or wallet in a bag that could potentially get placed in checked baggage.

Packing techniques

With a bag that has two internal pockets, you can easily pack clothing on one side and toiletries, beauty products, shoes and other necessary items on the other. We suggest that you keep your phone, chargers, laptops, books, medicines and comforts for the plane in your personal item. Often if airlines are fully booked and do not have space in the overhead compartments, they will ask for volunteers to check their carry-on bags at no cost. If you are able to, this is a great way to free up some space for the airlines; just be sure there are no important documents or essentials for your plane trip in the baggage to be checked.

Common Questions

Q: What is a personal item?

A: Some airlines allow for a personal item in addition to a carry-on bag. Personal items include purses, laptop bags, briefcases, etc. These bags need to be stored under the seat in front of you. Be aware that some airlines do not allow for personal items in addition to a carry-on bag. We suggest asking your travel specialist or airline before planning your luggage.

Q: Are there a weight restriction for carry-on baggage?

A: Weight restrictions vary from airline to airline and are typically not as strict as size restrictions. Some airlines simply request that you are able to lift your own carry-on baggage into the overhead compartments with no assistance, while others will weigh carry-on similar to checked luggage. Don’t get stuck with unwanted fees or required checked bags; ask about weight restrictions before you start your packing.

Q: Can you pack liquids in your carry-on?

A: You are permitted to pack liquids and gels in your carry-on as long as they do not exceed 100ml and as long as all liquids fit inside one of the transparent bags provided at the airline security station. It is also a wise idea to keep all liquids in plastic ziplock bags and in an easy access spot, ready for inspection. The only two exemptions to this rule are medications and infant and child nourishments.

Bags are packed and you’re ready to go?

Contact one of our experienced travel specialists for the best prices, personalized information and travel support available in the industry.

Travel Specialist