Pack a Carry on Suitcase





Introduction: Pack a Carry on Suitcase

If you are like me, you do more than your share of travel. Business conferences, etc... Lots of places where you ahve to spend a couple days in khakis and collared shirts, and maybe a sport coat. Life is so much easier if you can fit all your stuff into a carry on. Using this technique maximizes space an minimizes (but does not prevent) wrinkles. You may need to touch up with an iron in the hotel room.

Here is how I Pack my carry on suitcase.

Step 1: Lay Out Your Shirts.

Notice that we start outside the suitcase. Lay out your shirts flat as you can, one on top of each other on a flat surface, such as your bed. Button any shirt all the way up and make sure the collar is not folded funny.

Step 2: Lay Ou the Pants

Lay the pants as Illustrated in the picture, with the waist of the pants aligned with one shoulder of the shirt and extending out along the other sleeve. Pants should be folded in half according to whether or not you want to maintain a crease.

Alternate the alignement of the waist bands so that the pant legs extend along each sleeve.

Step 3: Add Socks and Unmentionables

With all your pants and shirts in place, lay out your underwear nice and flat on the pile. Also, un couple your socks and lay them out flat next to each other on top of the underwear. The idea is to make a solid, flat stack of clothing roughly from shoulder to shoulder to mid torso of the first shirt you layed out.

Step 4: Add Toiletries and Other Ephemera

Place your toiletries in a plastic zip-loc bag (those fancy bags are too bulky!). Lay them as flat as you can on the stack. Make sure all lids to any bottles is securely closed. I always travel with basic medicaments -- alka seltzer, pepto bismol tablets, advil, asprin, alka seltzer "morning relief" (for those buisness dinners that turn into late nites). Just put a few of each pill or packet in a sandwich bag. No need to pack all those boxes and bottles.

Also on this pile add the other stuff you need for your trip. cell phone chargers, usb cables, camera charger, etc etc. Dont put anything here that you want access to during the flight. That goes in the outside pocket.

Step 5: Fold It All Up.

Once everything is in place. Fold over each part that is hanging out of the pile. First do the sleeve arms / pant legs. Then fold up the shirt tails.

This will create a 'package' roughly the same size as your carryon bag.

Step 6: Place in Suit Case

Pick up the whole package and place it into the suitcase. Smooth out any wrinkles.
Depending on how much crap you jammed in there, you should have some room at the top.

Step 7: Add Shoes, Sport Coat, Books.

If you need to take extra shoes -- I travel in sneakers, and pack the dress shoes. Put each shoe in a platicg bag. Old grocery bags work well. Stuff those into each edge of the carry on, with the soles up. Gently fold up a jacket / sportcoat and place it between the shoes. Between the shoes is also a good place for Books, paperwork, folders, notepads. The idea with the books and the shoes is to create a relatively hard surface similar to the bottom of the carry on to protect all the stuff that is inside.

Step 8: Zip It Up

Zp it up. Add any of the things you might need in flight to the outside pockets, or keep that stuff in a small bag that you will slide under your seat. (I keep that stuff in a laptop bag)

Enjoy your flight.



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    27 Discussions

    A better way to pack with a a new type of suitcase equiped with a special device that's amazingly helpfull for packing - check at :

    1 reply

    the expan-zion looks cool but it adds 4 more telescopic devices to the bag....the advantage of really good one-bag systems is that they are not roll-on bags, thus reducing the telescoping gadgetry that hogs up significant room in roll-ons.

    Oops! Multiplecats explained that one already. Sorry...

    FWIW: To fold a sport or suit jacket, try pulling one sleeve inside out and feeding it all the way into the other. This puts a crease from the collar down along the rear seam. Anyway, both halves of the jacket nest into each other to lay flat. then lay a folded shirt or something on the chest before folding the jacket bottom to top, to stop a horizontal crease from forming under pressure.

    Love the thought , but just like you I fly often, although it's a good idea and saves money so you don't have to check your bags, but I really hate it when these people come on the airplane with a medium sized bag (larger than a small carry-on bag)
    and shove your stuff aside so they can squeeze their bag into the overhead compartment. It makes me angry because that is like saying their clothes and stuff are more important than my stuff. When I open my bag my stuff should not be smashed! Nothing against you but I just hate when people with huge bags smash my tiny bags. They should start making people pay to bring carry-ons rather than to check their regular bags.

    I've been trying a few different methods lately and this is an excellent one - especially when you realize too late your hotel room doesn't have an iron. Doh!

    Just a couple of thoughts from my experiences... Pressing some wadded up newspaper (or extra unmentionables) into your dress shoes helps them keep their shape.

    With the jacket, there's a great method where you can essentially fold one shoulder into the other, put a rolled-up t-shirt into the shoulder, and then fold the jacket in half. Lining out. Prevents it being smooshed and protects the outside from being wrinkled or marred by the suitcase or anything inside that spills.

    Nice Instructable, thanks!

    Just a note now you have to have your liquids in that zip lock out so you can show it to security when you travel. so don't put that all the way in the middle of things.
    Other than that little flaw this looks like a great plan! thanks for sharing. also suggest this packing technique and adds a couple more things to reduce wrinkles even further. That site alternates shirts (one up, one down) as well as pants and then wraps each item individually. They also suggest wrapping jackets as the outermost layer with the sleeves crossed in an X to minimize folds/wrinkles.


    Quick question? What size carry-on is that? I think mine is a touch smaller. I was able to cram the stuff in, but it's a pretty tight fit!

    I saw this instructable a while back and I thought I commented...but if I didn't oh well:
    This is very useful and excellently written.


    Where/what is the safest place/way to travel with a laptop?

    Excelent instructable!! I especially love how it all folds into a square that fits perfectly into your carry-on suitcase. I think I have one that size, and I'm gonna try it out! :)

    You have the same toothpaste as I do! Nice job.

    The only problem with this is that it would be very hard to be able to access those things in the middle. Otherwise nice job.

    Brilliant. I am so impressed.

    This is way less work than the martha stewart way of rolling each thing up individually. Since i'm usually travelling somewhere in order to make art I never have luxury of not checking bags, I always have to bring sewing machines and tools and bolts of fabric . . .

    Thank you i am going to prepare my suitcase and you take mi a greate idea