6 tips for packing the perfect carry-on

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With cheap fares to Europe on several new airlines, travel is more affordable than ever. The downside of budget airlines is that they will nickel and dime you for everything, including carry-on and checked baggage. Learning to pack light will save you a lot of money, and it will make your life easier while you’re traveling.

Even with extensive travel throughout the world, I’m still a horrible packer, but I’ve gotten better over the years. I once brought a down jacket to Costa Rica with me in May. You know, in case there was a freak snow storm.

Now that I’m living out of my backpack as a digital nomad, I’ve managed to keep my baggage as light as possible with these six packing tips I’ve learned over the years.

1. Invest in packing cubes
Packing cubes allow you to pack more efficiently and they save space, making these cubes your new best friend. Packing cubes come in various colors so you can organize your clothing by color (shirts in a blue cube and undergarments in a red cube). If you don’t want to purchase packing cubes, gallon-size Ziploc bags work, too.

2. Roll your clothes
Don’t fold your clothes. If you roll your clothes as tightly as possible you can fit 20 percent more in your suitcase or bag. Plus, rolling can reduce wrinkles. Once you’ve rolled them, stick them in packing cubes.

3. Stuff your shoes
Shoes take up a lot of real estate in your suitcase, but they can also help save you space. You can stuff socks, belts or other small items into them. Just make sure your shoes are clean before you stick them in your bag.

4. Wear your heaviest items on the plane
Most budget airlines have a carry-on weight limit and many will weigh your bag at check-in. If you’re over the limit, expect to pay a hefty fee. To avoid any surprise fees and to start your vacation off on the right foot, wear your heaviest items on the plane. That could be anything from your hiking boots to winter jackets to wool sweaters.

5. Pack, unpack and repack
Say what? I know it sounds counterintuitive, but if your pack, unpack and repack your bag, you’ll realize you don’t need everything you think you do. Chances are you can’t fit everything in your bag on the first go. By using this packing method you’ll be able to eliminate items that don’t fit. Trust me, you won’t miss them on your vacation.

6. Pack multifunctional clothing
You don’t need an outfit for every occasion. Pack clothing that can serve double duty like dark-colored jeans and maxi skirts. Dark-colored jeans can be dressed up or down and an elastic-waisted maxi is perfect for when you need to be modest, but can also hike it up to be worn as a knee-length dress.

Katelyn Michaud is a freelance writer and travel blogger from Gorham. Follow Kate’s adventures at www.diariesofawanderinglobster.com.