If you’re traveling again after a one-year layover, don’t forget that checked baggage costs an average of $40 per bag on many airlines.
By fitting everything into a hand luggage, a single traveler can save at least $80 round trip. A family of four can save $320. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on a great dinner or two or three extra nights at your hotel?
Whether your trip is for the weekend or for a week, follow these tips to trim down your luggage list, conserve space and save money.
5 tips from the experts: How to pack a handbag
Pack versatility into your handbags
Clothes that can be worn in many ways allow you to have multiple outfits and save valuable space.
- The maxi skirt with an elasticated waist is a day skirt, and can be pulled over the bust to become a strapless dress for nights out when traveling. (The skirt is also comfortable to wear on long trips.)
- A long-sleeved, button-down shirt can be worn as usual or with the sleeves rolled up and the shirttail tied in a knot around your waist. Try this out and you will get a great wrap to wear this long strapless maxi dress. Or leave it unbuttoned and untied, and you’ll have something like a cardigan.
- The long sleeve blouse can be paired with the skirt as a shirt, or tied around your shoulders and neck to go with the dress. It can also be layer added below or above the long sleeve button down.
- A small bag of jewelry takes up much less valuable space than clothes. Add light, bright earrings or a necklace and you’ll change the look of your limited outfit.
- Again, the same button-down shirt can look completely different with a tie one night and untucked with rolled up sleeves the next.
- Look for quick-drying pants with leg extensions that compress and loosen, which can be shorts or long pants. It is ideal for packing in handbags.
- A tie (or even two) takes up much less space in your handbag than a second or third shirt and you’ll have many different looks.
Wear and wash to save space
If you don’t have a washing machine where you travel, a general rule of thumb is to only put things in your carry-on bag that you can wash in the sink. From undergarments to workout clothes to this gorgeous black dress, you’ll get far fewer items on your trip if they can be washed in the sink and hung to dry.
This means that when you’re packing your handbag, it’s best to include lightweight nylon, polyester, and cotton clothing. It takes 2-4 hours to dry when hung indoors and 1-2 hours outside. Wash what you were wearing at night and you will have clean clothes the next day.
Hikers and campers have been wise to use quick-drying, odor-resistant underwear for a while. These polyester underwear, found in clothing stores, have wicking to keep moisture out of your body when you sweat, and are made with an antimicrobial treatment that reduces odor build-up in the fabric. These underwear can become as indispensable as Swiss Army knives.
Pack liquid cosmetics in your handbag
How many times have you thought you’ve mastered how to pack a handbag, and then realized you didn’t include that bulging toiletry bag? It can be one of the bulkiest items in your carry-on bag.
Here are some tips to save space.
- If you are staying with a friend, at a hotel or Airbnb, many liquid toiletries, razors, and soap will be provided. (If you’re not sure about Airbnb, ask your host before you pack.) It probably won’t be your favorite brand of shampoo, hairspray, or conditioner, but in order to save space and save money on baggage fees, your hair can shine a little less.
- Don’t buy travel size products. It’s so much fun getting those cute little bottles of mouthwash, lotion, and hair products at the grocery store but at $1.99 to $2.49 each, they can easily add $10 to $15 to the cost of your trip. Resist them and you’ll be spending that money on a delicious cocktail or lunch. Bring your own small bottles of liquid toiletries (don’t forget sunscreen) instead of buying them.
- It is best for you to buy clear, travel-sized plastic bottles from a dollar store.
Remember that you cannot carry liquid bottles larger than 3.4 ounces on flights.
- Don’t forget to put liquid detergent in a small bottle. You will need clean clothes wherever you go.
- If you already have miniature bottles of hair and body care products that you have saved from motels, of course use them. But be sure to bring the empty bottles home so you can fill them up with our liquid toiletries for your next trip. (For more efficient storage at home, keep it in your empty bag.)
- Always collect any extra small bottles at the hotel. It’s okay to ask the housekeeper for more.
- Use a conditioner for shaving cream when traveling to save space in your carry-on luggage.
- For those who menstruate, try a Period Cup Sometime before your flight. If this personal item is right for you, you don’t need to pack tampons or sanitary pads.
Limit options when packing a carry-on bag
Plan clothing alternatives based on potential weather surprises while you’re traveling, not whether you’re in the mood for striped stripes, a geometric pattern, or a floral print. You’re packing for a trip, not a fashion show. Once you have the mindset of light travel, it allows you to save space and save time. Getting ready every morning or night is easier because you’ve already picked out your clothes at home instead of going where you go.
Limiting yourself to two pairs of shoes gives you more room when you’re packing your handbag. It is best to take a pair of sneakers for sports in addition to daily activities. Add some slippers for the beach or a night out. Wear it with a dress or skirt for women.
Packing light for women means you’ll need: one skirt, one dress, two long-sleeved shirts (knit and button-down), two short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts, and one set of workout clothes. Add pants or jeans if you prefer them over a skirt or dress, or if it’s cooler where you go. (We’ll get to jackets and jackets soon.)
For men, you will need one of the following: shorts, long pants, a long-sleeved knit shirt, button downs and a set of sportswear. Pack two short-sleeved shirts.
Wear extra clothes when traveling
Now for those coats, woolen and sweaters. Don’t pack it – wear it. This can save a lot of space in your carry-on bag.
“When I flew to Iceland for $99, I had to pack up my pants and puffy jackets,” said Jane Ruiz, travel author and blogger on the website Jen Ruiz. Jenonajetplane.com. “I would wear it versus packing it in a bag and taking up all the space. The jacket could double as a blanket for you on the plane.”
Her advice evokes a Vision From friends When Joey wears all of Chandler’s clothes at once. If the hostess asked: “Can you Bee wear more clothes? Then rest assured that you are showing your commitment to the rules of how to pack a handbag.
Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.