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Are you tired of paying to check luggage when you fly? What if you could fit everything you needed in your personal item? Easily pack in a carry-on for a week.
If you haven’t flown in a while or even if you have, you may be shocked at the prices airlines charge you to check a suitcase. I mean you’re traveling; you’re going to have stuff! They’ve got you right where they want you. Or do they?
We got tired of paying $60 or more in luggage fees so we did something about it. After some research, we found suitcases that count as a free personal item, learned how to pack compactly, and saved ourselves a ton of money.
Now I’m passing our packing wisdom on to you! Here is how to pack a carry-on for a week at Disney!
Why pack a carry-on
When we first discussed the idea of packing in a carry on for a week, I thought it was totally insane, but it was obvious there were two main benefits:
1. Save money on luggage fees
We’ve talked about how much airlines charge for luggage. If each person checks 1 bag, a family of 4 will spend $240 just for their bags to fly. That’s insane!
2. Save time at the airport
I hate the ticket counter at airports! I checked in online and now I still have to wait in that line to drop my bag off. But not anymore! We skip the lines and head straight to security with our tickets on our phones.
It also saves time when you arrive. No need to go to baggage claim. Just get off the plane and head straight to Disney!
3. Keeps people’s stuff separate
To avoid checking too many bags, I had resorted to putting everyone’s stuff into 1 or 2 giant suitcases. It did reduce the luggage fees, but when we got to Disney, there was a frenzy trying to sort it all out again.
Now each person has there own bag and we can once again find what we need.
What carry-on to use
While this will definitely work with any bag that will fit under the seat, I recommend buying something the exact dimensions allowed.
Most suitcases are long and narrower but the allowed size is more square. You gain a lot of extra packing room by taking advantage of every single inch.
These are the two bags we use. Both of these currently (08/2019) meet the personal item size restrictions for Frontier and Spirit airlines.
I do make a commission on anything you buy through these links, but I only recommend them because I use them.
Caremore Travel Duffel Bag
This inexpensive bag has a ton of room in it. It’s lightweight, folds up to nothing, and is the perfect money-saving solution.
It can be a little awkward to pack at times, but some packing cubes or even Ziplocs solves that problem.
American Tourister Rolling Travel Tote
Our other favorite is this small rolling suitcase by American Tourister. Although it’s a little higher priced, the fact it rolls makes it worth it.
Because of the handle and wheels, it has a little less packing room, but an adult can still pack this carry on for a week.
If you are traveling as a family, we suggest combining the two bags! The duffel bag is actually made to slip over the handle of the rolling one.
One adult can now carry their bag and a child’s with only one hand. If you’ve ever felt like a pack mule going through an airport, you’ll get why this is so awesome.
How to pack a carry on for a week
Now if this is going to work, you can’t just start throwing stuff in a bag. You’ve got to have a plan. So let’s cover the basics of packing in a carry-on for a week. Some of these may seem obvious, but they are important enough to say anyway.
Travel size everything
This may seem obvious for things like shampoo and toothpaste, but other things can be travel-sized too. (Think curling irons).
You also have to consider TSA regulations for all liquids including makeup, sprays, and razors. All these things are allowed, but you’ll want to make sure you meet all the guidelines.
Stick with one color palette
You’ll want to be able to mix and match clothes to get the most out of your space. So pick 1-2 neutrals (i.e.navy & grey) for your base items like pants and shoes and then add in some complementary colors (i.e. teal & coral) for a little fun.
You can make many outfits from just a few pieces of clothing this way. If you follow my guidelines for packing for Disney, what to pack will be a breeze
Fold as small as possible
Shaun and I vary here. He uses the Ranger Roll since he mainly packs T-shirts. But I use the Konmari method because I have a lot of flowy tops and dresses. Whatever you choose, be sure to get all the air out.
Pack inside other things
Don’t let space go empty. Shoes are the perfect spot to put socks. Or if you are bringing a reusable water bottle to save some money, stick a few granola bars in it for some plane snacks. Be creative with the space you have.
Wear your biggest items on the plane
Look at what will take up the most space (jeans, running shoes, sweaters) and wear those on the plane. You can free up a ton of space just by pulling out one pair of jeans.
Before you go
Learning to pack a carry-on for a week can be a little intimidating, but just think about what you can do on your vacation with that $240 you saved. Get some good bags, follow these simple steps and you’ll be all set.
Grab a copy of my Disney Packing List so you don’t have any doubts about what should be in your carry-on.