Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 11:46 am
My son had the chance to go on a week-long mission trip with Back to Back Ministries through the small Christian private school he attends 2 days a week. The first email about flying instructions stated a $25 fee for checked luggage I immediately decided “I refuse to pay for a service that use to be free, so carry-on it is.”
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Then I read the included packing list in detail and began to doubt myself. The list suggested 2 outfits a day due to the hot and sweaty conditions. Also on the list was a twin sheet set, beach towel, swim trunks, notebook and bible, snacks, flashlight, batteries, hat, socks, work shoes, flip-flops, sunscreen, soap, shampoo, deodorant, underwear, anti-nausea pills, Imodium, ibuprofen, wet wipes, hand sanitizer and of course snacks.
Since he was going for an entire week, that meant he needed 12 outfits. In the end with my son’s agreement, I packed 12 t-shirts, 12 pairs of boxer shorts and 8 pairs of shorts. We both figured he could change the things closest to his body after working and reuse the shorts for the rest of the day.
If my son were not such a picky eater, snacks would have been unessential, but I couldn’t let the boy who likes roughly 20 different food items completely starve, so we ended up packing 12 granola bars and 12 snack sized containers of fish crackers.
My son is also extremely heat intolerant and gets dehydrated quickly so I packed 24 sticks of Gatorade so that he could have 2 sticks a day to put in his purified water and make sure he keeps up his electrolytes.
I knew I only had a backpack that he could consider a personal item and the black carry on bag seen in the photo above to fit that all in. So I used some of my husband’s tricks for compact packing and then came up with a few of my own.
How to Maximize Your Carry On Luggage Space
1. Purchase good quality zip lock bags
I know from past experience that packing clothes in ziplock bags take up less space and keeps them clean until the child wears them. The second half of that tip comes in handy when you send younger kids to summer camp.
The key to this step is to use good quality gallon sized zip lock bags. I have used and liked the Aldi brand and the Ziploc brand.
2. Roll or fold the clothes to fit the bag.
Here is how I fit the t-shirt and boxer shorts in their bags
I placed a pair of folded in half boxer shorts inside a folded in half t-shirt. If my 14 year old ever reads this I am sure he is not going to like me talking about his boxers so much, but hey at least there are not photos of them. (but you do get to see my foot in this picture 🙂 ).
I then folded the top down to mid way down.
I folded the bottom over the top for the final fold.
I then slipped the t-shirt into the gallon sized Ziploc bag. You will notice it matches the width of the bag almost perfectly. My son is an adult large (he is almost 6 feet at 14 yrs of age), so depending on the size you are packing you might have to play around with your folding to achieve the width.
I then harnessed the power of my behind and sat on the Ziploc bag to get out all the air. While sitting on it I sealed it. I left all the space at the top so that the bag could fit upright in the carry on. By having the bags upright I could squeeze more in.
The result is a vacuum sealed bag effect without the vacuum seal machine. The Ziploc bag does seem to regain a bit of air over time, so I did all of the t-shirts and shorts at the same time so that I could get them squeezed in while they were at their smallest.
For shorts, I simply rolled them up and then…
placed 2 in a bag one on top of the other and used my bottom air vacuum technique to get them as small as possible.
3. For items that don’t fit in zip lock bags roll them to fit remaining space
The twin sized sheets and beach towel did not fit in zip lock bags so I simply rolled them to fit down the space beside the bags. This left me with one small square space at the end where I put in his quart-sized bag of personal items like shampoo and soap, as well as a small travel sized flashlight and batteries.
The carry on also had two front pockets. I used one to hold his Bible and notebook and the other to hold his bandana and socks.
I was also able to get a few of the snacks in the bag as well.
There are actually 6 shorts, and 11 shirts & boxers in the black carry-on bag. I will show you what I did with the last 2 pairs of shorts and a t-shirt and a few other items.
I packed the last t-shirt and 2 pairs of shorts in this backpack. I probably could have squeezed it in to the carry on but I was sending these things with a very absent-minded 14-year-old and I just had this fear of him walking onto the flight with the backpack slung over his shoulder and the carry on left by itself next to the chair he was sitting on while he waited for the flight. Rather than leave him with just the clothes on his back I made sure he would have at least a spare outfit should this happen.
In this backpack, I also packed his water bottle (empty for refilling at the filtered water station) His anti-nausea pills (he gets travel sick). The other over the counter items the mission recommended. His wallet and passport. Chewing gum to pop his ears. Tissues for bleeding noses (I get them almost every time I fly and I didn’t know if he would or not). Wet wipes for his hands. Plus a few other travel papers he needed.
The shirt on the front you see in the photo was his group travel shirt that he put on just before he left.
I am pretty happy with how I was able to fit things in. I think I could have even taken things smaller if I didn’t divide up his snacks into one day’s worth per zip lock bag. However, knowing that my son is a picky eater I wanted to help him to ration out his snacks to last the week (whether that worked or not only time will tell 🙂 ).
Love to travel? So do we, check out our travel blog.
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Does Your Day Like Your Carry On Luggage Need To Fit More Into It?
I recently took the Make Over Your Evenings Course by Crystal Paine and found 25 minutes in my morning without getting up a single minute earlier and without overloading my evenings. The course can be done in just 15 minutes a day and pays back in HUGE dividends by helping you reorganize you day in a way that makes the most sense for you and your life.