M.I.S.S. Jet Set: How to Pack A Carry On

There’s nothing worse than packing your carry-on bag, rushing to the airport, and then realizing (right about the time you take your shoes off to go through security) that your zip lock containing all your liquids is at the bottom of your bag. Oh, but those are some lovely daggers the passengers behind you are throwing your way!

With a little forethought, though, you can avoid the insanity. All it takes is a packing plan. I separate my packing plan into layers: bottom of the bag, middle of the bag, top of the bag (if you have a carry-on with front pockets, well, bonus!).

See how we pack all of this after the jump…

Bottom of the Bag:

This layer is reserved for shoes, socks, belts and accessories that can take a little pressure (IE, don’t put your delicate jewelry in the bottom). Lay shoes as flat as they will go, and pack them around the perimeter of the bottom. Stuff the toes with socks or belts or whatever will fit inside them. In the middle of the bottom, pack a hard plastic case with any items you don’t want rolling around loose (pens, accessory cords or AC adapters, small electronics, etc.). Lay a colorful wrap over the whole shebang, then cover the layer with a plastic trash bag. Why? Those shoes are expensive aren’t they? The bag will give them some protection should anything leak, and will give you a dirty clothes bag for the trip home.

Middle of the Bag:

This is your clothing layer. I tend to go with the rolling method since I usually travel with matte jersey knits (it takes an act of God to wrinkle them). Roll individual pieces as small as they will go and start placing them around the perimeter of the bag. Tuck underwear into the niches. Remember that carry-on travel is designed for 2-3 day trips max, though you can get a good week out of a carry-on sometimes (that’s another post though!). Invest in a padded case for your jewelry and fine accessories, and place that in the middle of the clothing, along with anything else that could use some padding. Cover this layer with another trash bag.

Top of the Bag:

This is reserved for anything you might need to get to quickly. Roll and place your pajamas to the side of this layer. Find niches along the top of the packing pile for your makeup bag (dry makeups only … liquids or gels have to go in a separate bag), a paperback, and your quart-sized zip lock bag containing liquids and gels. You’ll have to show your liquids bag to security, so planning to have it on top just makes good sense.

As a parting note, I don’t recommend you pack your laptop in your carry-on bag. Get a separate large tote in which you can fit a laptop, peripherals, files and notebooks, and a small handbag. There are tons of them out there on the market right now.

Happy Jet-Setting!

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