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How to pack carry-on luggage like a pro

How to pack carry-on luggage like a pro

Looking to save money on your next trip by taking carry-on luggage only? Womenswear buyer at Fenwick Sue Shields shares her top tips for how to pack

As summer begins and the cost of living crisis looms, savvy travellers are opting to save money on flights by only taking carry-on luggage on their holidays. Packing a carry-on luggage can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be. 

Sue Shields, womenswear buyer at Fenwick, explains how with a little bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can easily pack everything you need for your trip using carry-on luggage alone!

Essential items to pack

An essential for a trip away is a clothing steamer, although most hotel rooms have irons, steamers are much better for the delicate pieces we take on holiday. If your carry-on bag doesn’t allow space for one, an alternative is to hang your clothes in the bathroom while you shower allowing the steam to help any creases drop out.

"Packing cubes will help to organise the space more efficiently and allow you to fit more"

If you plan to use a suitcase when travelling, packing cubes will help to organise the space more efficiently and allow you to fit more into your case. Alternatively, organise your clothes by outfit and pack them into separate bags. Not only will this will help when unpacking at your destination but it also stops you from overpacking.

Organising your carry-on bag

The packing tip I suggest to everyone, whether they’re packing a large suitcase or a small backpack, is roll don’t fold. The best way to save space, prevent wrinkling and pack quicker. To roll your clothes simply lay your item flat, fold sleeves inwards and roll from the bottom up as tight as possible.

Rolled up clothing in suitcase - how to pack carry-on luggage

Rollng clothes is more space-efficient than folding

For more delicate clothes such as silk or satin dresses, or anything with fragile embellishment, instead of rolling, use tissue paper when packing to minimise creases and keep the garments safe from snags. To do this, lay the item flat, place a piece of tissue paper in the centre and fold around it. Once folded, lay the garment flat on the top of your rolled clothes.

Shoes are tricky as they take up a lot of space within a case, especially if you are only taking hand luggage. Always pack shoes towards the bottom of the case near the wheels so that other possessions aren't damaged when the case is standing up, also try to pack bulkier clothes between them to keep them in place and prevent any damage.

Choosing the best carry-on bag for your trip

Depending on the baggage size your airline allows you to bring onboard there are three main types of carry-on bags to choose from. 


Suitcases are the easiest to manoeuvre, the most durable and for most people easier to pack. Rolling suitcases come in a wide range of sizes allowing for different carry-on bag allowances between airlines. The downside of a suitcase is that it usually can’t be used for under-seat carry-on as the wheels and handle add extra length and width.

Duffle bag

Duffle bags are the perfect combination of a suitcase and a backpack, being lightweight as they are usually made from nylon or canvas as well as offering options with wheels to increase the ease of use around the airport. The downside of duffle bags is that unless you’re packing lightly or have one with wheels, the weight of the bag could be an issue when carrying it from A to B.


Backpacks are a convenient, secure, and durable option for carry-on luggage. They are easy to carry on your back and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These are the best option for short trips, or when travelling with an under-seat carry-on allowance. 

Best carry on bags

Blac suitcase

Pink suitcase
Weekend bag
Carry on backpack
Black laptop bag

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