How to pack a carry-on bag to avoid a checked bag fee

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If you’re traveling and want to avoid luggage fees, packing a carry-on bag or personal item will save you the most money on your trip.

Delta, United and American Airlines charge $30 and up for checked bags — that means you could save $60 or more on a round-trip flight by leaving your checked bags at home!

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Think it’s too difficult to pack everything you need in a smaller bag? Think again!

Bringing a carry-on bag for a five-day vacation is simple with these steps. You’ll have everything you need and be ready to go in no time.

5 steps to pack a carry-on bag for a 5-day trip:

1. Check the weather

Checking the weather at your destination for your travel dates will give you a good idea of what to pack and what can stay behind. This way, you’ll know whether to bring extra items like a heavier coat or umbrella.

If it looks like the weather will be changing a lot, bring clothes you can layer to avoid packing one-use items.

2. List activities

Making a list of what you’re doing during your trip will help you narrow down your wardrobe before you even get out what you want to bring.

Whether it’s a wedding or a week of outdoor activities, you can pick out appropriate clothes quickly and easily.

3. Lay out your items

Lay out the clothes and other items you want to pack on your bed or a table. Sort items into categories so you can see exactly how much of each item you’re considering. For my 5-day trips I generally pack:

  • 4 shirts
  • Sweater
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • Dress
  • Jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • Scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone charger
  • Toothbrush
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • Makeup bag
  • On-plane essentials bag

This list doesn’t include what to wear on the plane and can be edited depending on the trip. Making your own list during this step helps keep track of outfits and can help you sift through your wardrobe.

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4. Grab your bag

Make sure your carry-on fits the restrictions from the airline you’re flying. Some airlines limit the size of your carry-on bag more than others so it’s good to double check. You can measure your luggage the old fashioned way with a measuring tape or this app will measure your bag for you!

5. Get packing!

There are tons of popular packing methods, from Konmari to military-rolling your clothes. With everything laid out and a list made, you just have to put it all in. To see how I did it and to learn a few more tips, watch the video above!

You may also want to bring these bonus items:

  • Empty water bottle – You can’t bring a full water bottle through security, but you can fill one up once you’re past it.
  • Snacks – Don’t pay high prices at the terminal, bring your own instead!
  • Sanitizing wipes – Airports and airplanes have countless people in them every day, but you can avoid some of the germs.
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones – If you have trouble sleeping on planes, silencing the noise around you might help.
  • Neck pillow – Nobody wants a pain in their neck. These can be especially helpful on longer flights.

If you have packing or travel tips, let us know in the comments below!

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