6 Objections To Packing Carry-On Only And How To Overcome Them

6 Objections To Packing Carry-On Only And How To Overcome Them

It’s a guest post by Amanda Nicholls from

If you told me 5 years ago that I could travel to Europe for 9 weeks with carry-on only, I would not have believed you.

I would have come up with a bunch of objections as to why it’s just not possible. It’s funny, because as I write this article, I really had to think about possible objections people could have, because now that I have done it, I know that packing carry-on only is very possible. Not just possible, but it can be easy too!

Somehow, over the last 5 years I have gone from over-packer to carry-on only, and I even surprised myself with the 9 weeks in Europe. But that’s just it, with every trip I go on, it get’s easier and easier to pack lighter. Maybe it’s because you get better at packing, or maybe it’s because you fall in love with the benefits of packing light.

Either way, here are 6 common objections to packing carry-on only, and how I think you can overcome them too!


1. What About My Liquids?

Carry-on restrictions for liquids are a common reason people don’t want to go carry-on only.  Here’s a few ways to get around it:

  • Buy travel sized containers
  • Use your travel-sized containers for the liquids that you can’t get overseas (whether that be a brand you use and can’t get where you are going, or a special moisturizer etc.) But if you can get it overseas, then just buy it when you get there. This year we went to Istanbul, I packed travel size shampoos and they took up valuable space. When we arrived, there was a chemist across the road that had brands I knew and could have just bought there.
  • Buy all your toiletries overseas if you are happy to.
  • Take sample size perfumes
  • Swap liquids for solids where possible (e.g. shampoo bars, solid perfume)
  • If you buy liquids overseas to bring home, you could always buy duty free at the airport or buy smaller sizes (e.g. 100ml of balsamic vinegar).
  • By the time you come home, most of your toiletries should be used, thus freeing up space and liquid limits.
  • If you really want to buy liquids to bring home, buy a box, pad it well and check it. That way you haven’t had to carry a big bag just to fit it in, and you’ll only wait at one baggage carousel.


2. I will have to wash all the time

If you are travelling for a week or less with carry-on only, you won’t have to do laundry. If you are travelling longer, you probably will. But it may only be once or twice, depending the length of your trip, and you didn’t pack much so you’re not going to have much to wash. Even if you have checked luggage, for a longer trip, you will still have to wash, but you will have loads more washing to do. Ways to get around this include:

  •      Go carry-on for short trips
  •          Pay for your hotel to do your laundry
  •        Have some items you can wash easily/quickly in the basin
  •        Stay in an apartment (either a serviced apartment or Airbnb) with laundry facilities. At least this way, it’s not much of an inconvenience – chuck your clothes in the washing machine and go out for the day. The only part that takes time is hanging them to dry, but if you have a dryer too, then some items you won’t even need to do this for.


3. I will be wearing the same clothes everyday

You won’t have as many clothes to choose from, but this doesn’t mean you will have less outfits. Here’s some tips:

  •         Pick your clothes wisely, choose items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits.
  •        Buy some clothing items overseas (especially if you are intending on shopping anyway)
  •        In winter, layer rather than pack bulky items.


4. People with carry-on bags slow down loading of the plane

The worst thing about carry-on bags are checked bags. What? This will make sense.

People taking carry-on luggage onto a plane that is actually not carry-on size, do slow down the loading of the plane. It does make it hard for those last people on the plane who are fighting for overhead space. I get it. But it’s not the carry-on size bags that are taking all the room. It’s the bags that are huge that should have been checked, or the person who gets on the plane with carry on luggage and a giant “handbag” that they try to store in the overhead compartments too. On the last few flights I took, this was pretty out of hand. But I think all this will lead to is stricter rules on carry-on luggage that are actually enforced.


5. I can’t pack carry-on only and be fashionable

As mentioned previously, you won’t have as many clothes to choose from, but if you mix and match you can still have plenty of outfits. And isn’t fashion all about how you wear something or what you choose to pair things with? Not to mention shopping for clothes from a new destination… inspiration! People often advise to pack for comfort, but if you want to look fashionable every day, just select the pieces of clothing you like (they don’t have to take up more space). After all, Miranda Kerr’s go to outfit is skinny jeans and a plain top. Accessories are your key. If you don’t care for accessories, I’d say avoid packing them at all costs for carry-on. But if you do care, they don’t take up much space, pack them into a slim line container or pop them in your handbag, and it’s another way to dress up and change up an outfit.


6. I won’t be able to fit everything

You’re right. You won’t be able to fit everything.

Just the things you will use and need. You won’t be carrying around an extra load for your entire holiday. Think of the last time you packed a checked bag, and came home with multiple things untouched. Why? Because you didn’t need them. And because a lot of us have our favourite few clothes/outfits, that if we have the choice, we will choose to wear our favourites over the back-ups that we packed anyway.


The Wrap Up

Sure, there are some circumstances where checked luggage is needed; a destination wedding and you need to pack your wedding dress, or if you were moving overseas, but for a holiday, I think anyone can pack light and be happy. I think it’s important not to go from massive over-packer to carry-on only straight up. You would probably spend your entire trip in shock. But I find the key to packing light, is to get lighter with every trip, and one day you might surprise yourself too, and find yourself not needing to wait at the baggage carousels…


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