Expert-approved carry-on packing tips

Raise your hands if your carry-on suitcase is overstuffed and three of your friends are sitting in it so you can tighten it millimeter by millimeter until the whole suitcase is bulging like crazy, stewardess Tell you. Sorry, it's actually too big to fit in the overhead compartment.

Cool, cool. Sound familiar?

But as travel plans accelerate, and as airlines are overwhelmed and experts recommend carrying a carry-on rather than checking a large suitcase, it's time to learn how to pack small in a smarter, more efficient way. Ahead, we've got 6 expert-backed tips on how to pack your carry-on to maximize space before your next trip.

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Choose a suitcase with lots of storage compartments

"Traditional-style luggage has mesh zippered pockets on the front flap, which doesn't do much for organizing your belongings," says Lela Burris, organization expert at the blog Organized-Ish . "By choosing a suitcase with two identical storage sides, you can use one side for clothes and the other for shoes, or one side for clean clothes and the other for dirty clothes."

Professional organizer and productivity consultant Rashelle Isip also says to look for luggage with "shoulders, flaps, zippers, pockets, partitions and compartments." “Take the time to thoroughly examine these storage features,” she advises. “Built-in storage may sometimes appear spacious at first glance, but may shrink when other items are placed adjacent to it. Unzip pockets, undo flaps, and open compartments. layers." This way you can make sure your new suitcase has as much space as you imagined.

Wrangler smart luggage set with cup holder

Equipped with a 3-in-1 cup holder, USB port, and phone holder, this carry-on suitcase is a do-it-all. Plus, it expands for extra packing capacity and features a fully lined interior with accessory pockets.

Embrace the Packing Cube

Burris uses them to separate clothes, prevent shoes from coming into contact with clean clothes, and ensure small items like underwear and socks don't get lost in the shuffle. “I always stash an extra empty packing box just in case I buy something on the go or my shoes get dirty,” she says. "The best rule of thumb for packing cubes is to treat them like your dresser and bathroom drawers. If they don't fit in a drawer, they shouldn't fit in a cube."

Another hot tip: "You can fit more clothes in the packing cube when you roll it loosely," says Burris. "If they have some wrinkles from being rolled up, you can take them out and hang them in the bathroom while you shower on the first night of your trip. The steam will loosen the wrinkles."

Mossio 7-piece Packing Cube Set

These top-rated packing boxes and laundry bags come in a variety of sizes so you can save space for all types of personal belongings.

These nylon storage bags not only save your space but also ensure your items are wrinkle-free. DIMJ Travel Packing Cubes

Store everything from dirty laundry to electronics in these top-quality boxes.

Skip bulky items – if your destination offers them

Before you fill your bag with bulky electronics like a hair dryer or steam iron, call your hotel or rental to see if they have them available for you to use upon arrival, Burris says. . This frees up space in your bag for essentials—namely, that floppy hat you bought just for the beach. If you must bring your own, buy the travel-size version so you can leave the bulky items at home.

Conair Minipro Hair Dryer

Forget about a bulky hair dryer that weighs you down while running through the airport, this hair dryer with 1200 watts of power, dual voltage and folding handle is designed for travel.

Who says steamships can fit in checked luggage? This stylish handheld device folds up and fits into your carry-on.

Pack only what you need

It sounds impossible, but try your best, advises Isip. "Check your travel itinerary and create a list accordingly. Essentials include underwear, pajamas, tops, bottoms, dresses, socks, shoes." If you don't know what is "essential," Isip advises, choose solid colors Sexy clothes. This makes it easier to mix and match outfits. A bold project or two can help you make a statement based on other fundamentals.

neutral sweater

This loose, lightweight sweater is perfect for traveling with you.

Use a toiletry bag with a hook

Even if you have all your packing boxes, Burris says getting a few toiletry bags that fold into quadrants and have hooks can help keep all your little items together. "You can fit a lot of stuff in it, and [once you get to your destination] you won't waste space on the small bathroom countertop because you can hang all your toiletries and bathroom items from towel hooks."

Hanging toiletry bag

Not only does this toiletry bag keep your belongings safe and organized while you're traveling, but you can also hang it up once you arrive at your destination to stay efficient. Herschel Chapter Toiletries Bag 5L

Stylish and compact, this cosmetic bag meets all your needs.

Pack a million zipper storage bags

Well, maybe not but stuffing a bunch of bags in your carry-on will help keep the contents of your bag organized once you get to your destination. Burris recommends stuffing pens inside (so they don't bleed), and Isip says you can even use large pens to keep your shirts pressed and folded nice and ironed when you arrive.

Reusable food storage bags

Keep snacks and groceries safe and organized with these leak-proof storage bags.

These top-rated storage grocery bags don't take up much space, holding up to a gallon each.

Keep your travel snacks organized and leak-proof with these reusable storage bags.