Packing Light: How I Fit Four Months Of Travel Into A Small Carry-On Mary Zakheim June 23, 2016 International Travel, Travel Tips, Trending Stories 9 Comments Though I once was unable to travel to the beach without two checked bags in tow, I’ve since learned the fine art of packing my entire life into one small (rather pink) carry-on. Last August I did just that. I was traveling to, among other places, blisteringly hot Israel in August, delightfully mild Germany in September, teeth-chatteringly cold Poland in October and incessantly rainy Holland in November – so I needed my small bag to fit, not just four months, but four seasons worth of clothes. Forever the penny-pincher, I knew that I had to fit all of my belongings into a neat 21.65 x 15.74 x 7.87 inch box so that it would comply with even the stingiest of European carry-on allowances. By the time I flew back to the States, pink suitcase in shambles from its added mileage, I had learned a few nifty tricks to packing a bag that I could easily slide into the tiny overhead bins. Sure, there are a couple of concessions, local purchases and tearful abandonments – but, on the main, packing light is the way to get around. Not only does it make airport departures speedier, it also makes staying in hostels, riding trains and not looking like a complete tourist much easier, too. Get The Largest Carry-On Size Allowed If you’re traveling within the States or on mainly larger international flights, you can (generally) get away with an overstuffed bag with a care-free smile and strategic suitcase-to-body placement while scanning your ticket. The suitcase that I usually bring is so maxed out, the security people always skeptically eye me as I wheel it in. But I just put it up on the conveyor belt with a look that says, “I dare you,” which has worked so far, because I’ve never been questioned. When I have an extra backpack or large purse to carry the stragglers of my belongings, I try to keep it effortlessly perched in the crook of my arm with a large jacket hiding its much-larger-than-regulation size. Roll Your Underwear (And Everything Else) Rolling, rolling, rolling. It makes such a difference! When I roll, it seems like I can fit so much more than when I just fold (or throw haphazardly as I run about my room). So do it. And don’t ask questions. I like to also find nifty ways to utilize all of the space in my bag – like stuffing mugs and other trinkets with socks and underwear. This makes sure there are no bubbles of wasted space! DIY Laundry Why waste space with a plethora of underwear, socks and basics when you can do a little scrub-a-dub-dub every couple of days and come out with freshly washed and dried laundry? All you need is some soap from the hostel bathroom (or, if you’re a more refined traveler than I, a travel-sized jug of laundry detergent), a sink, a place to hang it and you’re in business! I’ve also found that wearing my semi-wet clothes dries them out in about thirty minutes – it’s not as bad as it sounds, I swear. (Warning: don’t try that in the winter). Reduce, Reuse, Recycle And by that, I mean get creative and don’t be afraid to wear the same outfit a couple of days in a row! I’ll often change the look of a dress or shirt by wearing it backwards, pairing it with unexpected partners or simply wearing it twice in a row because who really cares? If you’re staying in hostels and like making friends, try exchanging clothes with people – either temporarily or make a permanent trade – to make your suitcase’s fillings last longer. Another trick of the trade is asking your hostel if there is a box to leave unnecessary clothes behind in. When I left Israel and the summer months for autumn in Eastern Europe, I left behind my sandals and some summer clothes for some other traveler to put to good use. Be Real With Yourself As You Pack Let’s be honest, I never ever wear or use all of the stuff that I pack. If I haven’t worn a shirt at home, I’m not going to wear it abroad. As much as I like to think I’m a sophisticated and stylish traveler, on most (read: all) days abroad, I opt for comfort over style. But who’s to say those are mutually exclusive things? I prefer to pack outfits that are simple, sophisticated and interchangeable (think: Ann Taylor Loft super sale) so that I appear somewhat stylish while maintaining my comfort. Because I am decidedly not able to walk on cobblestones in stilettos, as much as I may dream. Keeping a firm stance in reality while packing is integral to making it across the pond with a pack full of stuff you’ll actually want to wear once you’re trekking across cities every day. Do you have any other packing tips that I missed here? Let’s talk about it in the comments section!