Smart Packing for Carry On Luggage–My 2 Cents On the Subject

In a matter of days, I will be flying back home to Canada, mon ami. Obviously, I’ll have to start thinking how to pack smart since I’m only bringing carry -on luggage  with me. Considering my previous experience with U.S. Customs and Immigration (read my 1st post –To Carry or Not to Carry-(On)), I’ll have to make sure to be always prepared in case they randomly screen my carry- on . This time, I’ll be facing Canadian Customs and Immigration but I’ll not take it for granted that they’ll be more lax than their U.S. counterparts. They obviously are following  the same guidelines as well.

Now to the heart of the matter. It is very important to look at your carry-on as your best friend and your home away from home.All your precious cargo are in there, mind you! Whether there will be flight delays or cancellations, it’s always with you even after claiming it from sky-check sometimes.Not like your checked luggage! You could be stranded in 1 airport and your checked bags had already reached your destination. Not to mention the worry and frustration that you’ll feel if your bags get stolen there without you there to protect them.  This explains why I love carry-on luggage. Also, I don’t have to pay a fee yet on them.

After going over all your stuff  and making sure that it meets airline security and international customs’ regulations,packing a lot in  a carry-on is key so that it preempts your need to bring a checked bag.

Everybody has their own style of packing.  If it works for you, well and good.

I hope that when one reads my post as to how I pack my stuff in a carry-on bag, they would start getting new  ideas as to how to pack theirs if they so wish to do so.

First of all, I would use those zip-on luggage cubes that comes in a set of 3″s(S,M & L). You can get it from Heys Luggage,LL Bean,etc.They tend to squeeze a lot of clothing and take the air out of it and take up less space in the carry-on space. They also have those meshed screens over the top cover so all your contents can be seen at one glance without even opening them.

Second, I also use   all those clear  plastic zip-on plastic sacs like Ziploc,Glad,etc. to put in your other stuff like gifts for friends and family, electronic equipment, make-up ,toiletries,snacks,etc. that you’ll want to bring along. Since carry-on bags can now be randomly screened, it makes good sense to use these clear plastic zip-ons so  everything  can be seen by the inspecting customs officer without ever needing them to open them up for inspection as well as not having them touch your stuff. Their hands are not necessarily germ-free, you know. It’s like being in a factory assembly line. It’ll take a while before they’ll take a break to use their hand sanitizer unless they all use and change disposable  gloves everytime they  touch everybody’s luggage.

There’s a psychological effect when seeing only all the items stuffed inside those clear plastic zip-ons , that is, to the eyes of the customs official, he’ll think that you have nothing to hide.

Third, if you don’t want to put all your toiletries and makeup in a plastic zip-on, buy a zip-on make-up /toiletry tote that’s clear plastic or made with a mesh-screen fabric.  I have one and it’s a godsend. I bought it at the Walmart a few X’mases ago. It already contained some makeup and toiletries but my main priority was getting that tote.

Fourth, obviously,there will be some stuff which  you had brought along with you that will be used up and thrown away(including old clothes and underwear that you plan to use for 1 final wear). This means that  it opens up more carry-on space for you.( You’ll need that space  when you go shopping for more stuff, mon ami. )

Finally, invest in a good travel tote bag that you can bring with you.  You can put your toiletry bag,other stuff as well as travel documents,of course. I got mine at LL Bean and together with the carry-on, who needs checked luggage? FYI: Go to, click on Luggage  and look for Carryall Tote Bag. Shortcut way is to type in either the product number TA248845 or the words Carry all Tote Bag. It’s never on sale as far as I can remember but it’s a good investment for the constant traveler. But if you can find a better substitute , then so be it. To each his/her own taste.

That’s my own 2 cents’ worth on the matter but it’s always open for improvement as I frequently travel and learn more about packing well .

One last bit of advice: In case you shopped too much,  ship all your extra stuff via courier/ post office  to your home before you return there. You’ll be declaring them and paying the corresponding taxes and duties anyway before they’re officially stamped for shipping. Convenient too.

Au revoir and happy packing!


  1. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your web page.

    • Glad to be of help.Am happy for you. I felt that it’s OK to share my travel experiences and this carryon packing issue will be with us forever as long as we continue flying.

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