How to Fit Everything in a Carry On

How to fit everything into a carry on

When we left for the Grand Adventure around the world, Rob and I decided we wanted to keep our luggage to a minimum. That meant just a backpack and a carry on suitcase for each of us. I’m not going to lie, the idea of fitting everything I would need for 7 months of traveling through a range of different climates seemed daunting. I was going to need warm sporty clothes for hiking in Ireland, cute sundresses for summer in Europe, and plenty of swimsuits and shorts for Thailand.

The first key to packing everything into a carry on is to have a minimal packing list. I spent weeks planning out what I was going to bring in my head. I wanted to make sure everything I brought was something essential and I would need. You can see my packing list, I did bring all those clothes and shoes, and I did manage to get it all in a carry on.

How to fit everything into a carry on

The next thing to consider is how you actually pack everything up. There are tons of schools of thought on this, from using packing cubes, to rolling, to specific folding methods. I started out using compression bags to both organize my clothes and to try and save some space. Eventually I ditched the bags and went with rolling my clothes together, it just seemed more space efficient.

Check out the little video I made of how I get everything packed up. I manage to get all my clothes shoes and toiletries into a 20 inch hardside carry on case.

How to fit everything in a carry on


Of course this packing method isn’t just for long term travel you could pack like this for just a week vacation or a few days.

Also I’d like to note that this isn’t the exact packing list from our trip around the world, I’ve modified it slightly for a better range of clothes. If you’d like that list, it’s below.

Packing list for multiple destinations, activities and temperatures:

Packing list

A few of my favorite packing essentials:

Suitcases and Sandcastles

13 thoughts on “How to Fit Everything in a Carry On

  1. Katy

    I am yet to master the art of packing and it is only getting worse with kids! Congratulations – this looks like a great method. I think I’ll finally give the rolling method a go on my next trip #farawayfiles

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      thanks so much for reading! It definitely took me so many packs and repacks to figure it out 🙂

  2. Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    So fascinated to read this, Natalie. I had to pack all my clothes into a rucksack for seven months of travel around India but at least I didn’t have to worry about clothes for hot and cold weather! I do roll my clothes sometimes but I can’t get over the concern that they might crease horribly so I usually give in to my better instincts and lay everything flat. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      Oh wow, thats impressive that you got everything into a rucksack! I’ve kind of resigned myself that my clothes with end up a little wrinkly no matter what. Thanks for reading!

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      Rolling works so well! Keeping the packing list to a minimum is always the tough part for sure! thanks for reading!

  3. Pingback: How To Survive A Travel Day - Nattie on the Road

  4. Pingback: Honest Review: Vueling Airlines - Nattie on the Road

  5. Pingback: What's in my carry on - Nattie on the Road

  6. Pingback: Packing for Holiday Travels - Nattie on the Road

  7. Pingback: How To Become A Digital Nomad - Nattie on the Road

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.