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Frugal Photo Friday: How I Pack for a Week in a Carry-on (and save on baggage fees!)


Welcome to Frugal Photo Friday! This month, I am partnering with Rebekah from Each Friday we are sharing pictures of simple ways that we save money.

I traveled to Colorado on Sunday for the SCORRE Conference (it was life-impacting in so many ways — I highly recommend this conference to every speaker or aspiring speaker. So very worth it!). I left SCORRE yesterday afternoon and flew to Kansas City with some of my team to speak and do some filming at MomCon today.

Then, we left Kansas City this afternoon to fly to Austin to speak at the ReWrite Conference tomorrow (I’m writing this on the plane!). So I’ve been living out of a suitcase this week.

Knowing that I had six flights this week, I was really determined to get everything into a carry-on. Because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to pay baggage fees on multiple flights.

How I Pack for a Week in a Single Carry-On

It took some finagling, but I did it! All 8 outfits — including dressy outfits for speaking — stuffed into one carryon. It felt like quite an accomplishment and saved me some hefty baggage fees, too! 🙂

How I Pack for a Week in a Single Carry-On

I’ve found that rolling clothes up is the best way to pack them — it takes up the least space and it also keeps them from getting wrinkled. Just take them out and hang them up as soon as you get to your destination and they will usually look nice and fresh within an hour or two.

Head on over to Simply Rebekah to see the savings that Rebekah is sharing today.

Now it is your turn to share the simple ways that you save. Post your link below or on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #FrugalPhotoFriday. All of the link-up details can be found here.

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  • vickie says:

    I can’t imagine six flights! I use this same technique in my chest of drawers also. Works like a charm. Thanks for hosting.

  • becca says:

    i went on a week-long mission trip to Haiti and our whole team decided to save baggage fees and the complication of having to check bags, by just using what could go on the plane with us. i took 1 roller suitcase and a backpack. we even had some required items, like towels, sheets, and all our lunch items to fit in, and each team member made it work! check the requirements for the airline for on-board baggage sizes, my husband’s back pack was too large, so we had to bring something else for his “personal bag.” it has to fit under the seat, while your small roller case goes overhead.

  • Natasha Ru says:

    Great idea) and also we used ziplock bag and vacuumed air out, so it saves a lot of space . But after need to iron or just put on hangers.

  • Tina says:

    I’d love to know exactly what you have in there! Wow!! Great job!!

  • Victoria says:

    If you want to get even more in your bags than you can when you roll them try ziplock bags. Put the clothes in flat or rolled and squish out all possible air. It works great! We did this for my husband when he went to Africa before we got married and he said the best part was it kept the sand out of his clean clothes. My cousin actually uses her air sealing machine (totally wrong name but I think you know what I mean the ones for getting all the air out) but the only problem with that is if security has to open the pouches for any reason you can’t reseal it but with ziplocks you can.

  • Anonymous says:

    I would recommend putting the shoes in ziploc bags so that they aren’t touching the other clothes.

  • jenn says:

    You must not fly on an airline that charges for carry ons then? Nice!

    We flew Allegiant Air this summer for vacation. They charge for checked bags as well as carry ons, over and above a purse/personal bag. $50 for checked bags, $40 for carryones.
    It is crazy! Happy to hear though that Southwest is now flying out of our hub so hopefully next year’s Florida trip won’t involve baggage costs!

    • Susan says:

      Allegiant charges for EVERYTHING! Even water and soda. It’s how they keep their fees low, they say. I flew Allegiant just once. The scheduling was so limited that when we missed our flight coming home (not our fault) it would have been 4 days before we could get another flight, so we ended up springing for tickets on another airline.

      I heart Southwest and choose that airline whenever possible.

    • Luba says:

      Southwest is great! My mom-in-law introduced me to them, and I was impressed.

    • Jillian Kay says:

      That’s crazy! They charge for bags that you have to carry yourself?

      • Ann says:

        Yes, but the flights are super cheap. When we flew to Florida last year, it was $59/person. We checked one suitcase for the five of us; it was cheaper than flying a flight with included carry-ons, that’s for sure! The budget airlines can work to your advantage As long as you read all the fine print BEFORE you buy the tickets.

        • Jamie says:

          We flew Spirit in February from MI to FL and took advantage of the airlines “free personal item” policy by packing a large backpack for each member of the family and then sharing one checked suitcase for the 4 of us. If your smart about your packing it works out really well that way.

      • Mandi says:

        We do a lot of Allegiant, too. Their baggage fees are high and it’s annoying to have to pay for a carry on BUT they tend to have the cheapest flights by far. If you are a light packer, its definitely worth checking out.

  • Susan says:

    I find that I can get a lot more clothing in less space by laying them out flat, all on top of each other, and then wrapping them all together around the bulkier items, which are placed in the middle on top of the pile. If that makes sense.

    Shoes take up a lot of space. It depends on where you’re going and what you need to wear, of course, but whenever possible I take just the one pair of shoes, which I wear. They’re comfortable for walking and look nice enough for work. I pack only some slippers for the hotel and flip-flips if I’ll be swimming.

  • Catherine says:

    Oh yes- we only do carry on only! We went to Asia for two weeks in February with carry on only. This included attending a formal wedding. It can be done, and once you start you will never go to checking bags again!

    Here’s the post on what we packed, etc:

  • Susan says:

    Crystal, I highly recommend using a shoe bag. It will really help keep your clothes clean and free from little pebbles or other such things that end up on the bottom of your shoes.

  • Jen says:

    My hero! 🙂 My hubby and I went to Europe for 16 days with a carryon and back pack apiece, and my family of 4 went to California for a week with just carryon’s and that included diapers, snacks, books/toys, and lunch food!

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Way to go!

    And it sure doesn’t hurt that you are small, and therefore your clothes smaller too. 😉

  • Cass says:

    If Southwest Airlines goes where you plan to fly they allow 2 suitcases for FREE, up to 50 pounds each. My daughter just flew from BWI (Baltimore/Washington DC area) on a non stop flight to Flint, Michigan for $79.00 each way which included taxes and fees. We had to do some juggling days to come up with that price but it was worth the time it took. Their website is

  • Kris says:

    Nice job. You may want to throw your shoes in a ziplock to keep your clothes clean 😉

  • Laurie says:

    Would you be able to show or itemize what you packed? Did you pack clothes that you wear more than once for different outfits? Did you also pack exercise clothes? Did you only bring along one extra pair of shoes? what did you do about toiletries? Hair dryer/straightener? Hostess gifts? I know it’s doable, but could use some specific lists.

  • Charlene says:

    Great tips! My sister in law was planning to go to the MOMCon but ended up in a car accident on the way there. The girl sitting beside her died on impact. My sister in law is fighting for her life–and her life will never be the same. I am planning to fly out to see her and be with family as soon as possible, so I will certainly use these tips to get all of my stuff in a carry on! Very timely info!

  • Karen says:

    Way to go Crystal! I was proud of myself when I packed for a week at a camp in a carry-on and a large tote (keep in mind, I needed towels, bedding, etc. plus, my clothes are, um, much bigger than the average woman’s!). It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

  • Christine Williams says:

    If you are only doing carry-ons, how do you deal with toiletries? Between contact solution, sunscreen, shampoo and foundation, I run out of space in that little quart bag that you are supposed to put any liquid items that you have. Thanks!

    • You can have separate baggies for your liquids — so long as they are 3 oz. or less. I have a bag for contact solution/shampoo, etc. a bag for makeup, and a bag with essential oils.

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