With nearly all restrictions lifted, international travel has made a serious comeback. This rebound has caused a storm of lost or delayed baggage headlines due to a chaotic combination of airline understaffing and flight overbooking.

carry on only packing

Although we are all eager to jet-set, I am strongly recommending carry-on-only luggage to all of my travel clients mainly because I learned this lesson the hard way earlier this year.

During my 2-week Italy trip, I decided to “make my life easier” and throw everything in an oversized, checked suitcase. Once in Milan, I was the last one standing in baggage claim and left to the realization that Delta had lost my luggage during my Amsterdam connection. I had only the clothes on my back and an oversized tote filled with electronics, handbags, and toiletries. Long story short, 4-days later, my luggage arrived in Lake Como with several valuables stolen from my luggage. Sadly, the airline has yet to resolve this fiasco or respond to the complaint.

Though this hiccup did not ruin the trip, it was incredibly stressful. Moreso, it could have easily been avoided if I had only packed fewer shoes and followed my own advice on how to pack only carry-on luggage.

How to Pack Only a Carry-On for International Travel

Pack carry on only luggage

  1. Packing Cubes – Not only do packing cubes allow you to compress more into your smaller suitcase, but it is a great way to organize outfits and items within your bag for varied occasions and locations on your trip.
  2. Ziploc Space Bag – Pack a spare compression Ziploc to throw your dirty clothes into as both a space saver and to avoid dirtying your other items.
  3. Small Toiletry Containers – Leave full-size liquids at home, and bring only what you need. I love to store these in clear cosmetic pouches to easily find what you need. If you run out, it’s only a quick trip to the pharmacy.
  4. Neutral Shoes – Shoes tend to take up the most space, so opt for neutral options that you can easily style with your outfit selections.
  5. Expandable Totes – Take advantage of your personal item baggage allowance. Pack an expandable tote, especially great for expansion on the return if you did any shopping.

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