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With more and more airlines restricting the amount of luggage and the size of carry-ons you’re allowed to use, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re utilizing your space properly. Before you take your next trip, learn how to pack the perfect carry-on suitcase to save fees on checked luggage, or just to have extra space for souvenirs and shopping.


The first step to packing the perfect carry-on is making sure your bag is the proper size. The largest allowed carry-on size varies from airline to airline. There’s no worse feeling than getting to the airport and being told your carry-on is too large and needs to be checked. Before your next trip, use this definitive guide that lists carry-on sizes for over 170 airlines.


Pick a bag that is comfortable and functional. If you plan on using a backpack, choose one with comfortable straps and a padded tech pocket if you’re bringing a laptop. If you’re using a roller suitcase, make sure the wheels work well and don’t get stuck. You’ll have to lug this bag all around the airport and your destination, so it’s important to make sure it’s something you’re able to carry.

Ensure all packed liquids are under 3.4 ounces and fit in a liter-size zip-top plastic bag. Anything larger than that will get you held up in security, and you’ll be forced to throw the item away. Also, keep the plastic bag in an outside pocket on your suitcase or backpack for easy access, as you’ll have to remove the bag from your luggage before going through security.


Pack any valuables in your carry-on suitcase. Anytime you check luggage, there’s a chance the bag will get lost, and with it all of your belongings. Make room for your laptop, tablet, or any valuable jewelry in your carry-on. This ensures that these items will be safe, even if the rest of your luggage is lost. Also, any medication or contact lenses or glasses should be kept in your carry-on for the same reasons.


Regarding clothing, pack items that coordinate with each other. All of your tops and bottoms should be interchangeable with each other, as in a capsule wardrobe. This will reduce the need to pack multiple separate outfits, and will save space. Try to limit the pairs of shoes you pack as well. If possible, pack only two pairs. One comfortable pair for everyday wear, and one more formal pair for nights and dinners out.


With the perfect carry-on packed, you’re setting yourself up for a successful vacation with less headache.