Reconsider those wheels
Acing the carry-on begins with the right bag. If you travel a lot, it’s worth it to invest in one you love. First, decide between a duffel or roller bag. On one hand, the roller bag is much easier to get around and will save you some massive shoulder stress. But it’s worth keeping in mind that on many full flights, the flight attendants will automatically check roller bags at the gates, while duffles tend to slide through a bit more easily. If you don’t want to risk having to check your bag plane-side, opting for a duffel may ensure your carry-on actually makes it into the overhead bin. These are the top weekender bags every travel pro swears by.
Once you’ve got the right bag, it’s not just about how you pack it. What you pack makes all the difference. When possible stay away from fabrics that wrinkle easily like silks and linens and opt instead for durable cottons and jerseys. With limited space, you’ll also want to pack versatile outfits—items that layer and can be worn a few different ways will keep you looking fresh without having to pack your whole wardrobe. Staying within one color scheme makes mixing and matching easier. To help take an item from a walking tour to a nice dinner, pack jewelry to jazz up a standard dress or T-shirt. These are vacation items you’ll always regret packing.
Bag it up
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you’re trying to streamline your packing process and simplify your carry-on, the more bags the better. Start by putting anything small—loose cords and chargers, jewelry, belts—into smaller carrying cases or sealable plastic bags. This way you won’t have a bunch of stuff you have to root around for. Secondly, repurpose any shoe or handbag dusters you’re not using to tuck away all of your shoes. Not only will it protect the shoes, it will keep them from getting everything else in your bag dirty. Finally, fold any easy-wrinkle items you do bring into garbage bags. Spread a clean plastic bag on the bed, lay your garment on top of it and fold the two together like you would normally fold the item. The plastic will help to keep wrinkles at a minimum.