Accessories that allow you to travel using only carry-on luggage

Banu Ibrahim
December 19, 2017

Story highlights

  • From best-selling packing cubes to spacey Herschel backpacks, these 5 traveling products make carry-on only packing a breeze.

Traveling with only carry-on luggage may be tricky, but it's not impossible.

The secret to packing ultra light on longer trips is making a more conscious effort to figure out what you absolutely need. Once you've narrowed down what makes the cut, it's time to get crafty with your packing. Items like compression bags and lightweight suitcases are crucial. And if you're planning to wear the same clothes instead of packing daily outfits, travel-friendly detergent allows for quick cleaning in your hotel or hostel sink.

This added effort won't go unnoticed. Ultra-light packing allows you to avoid paying luggage fees, skip long lines at baggage claim and gives you complete peace of mind that your belongings won't be lost in transit. Traveling with less also means you'll be able to move from place to place without being weighed down, which is especially important for backpackers.

To make your packing process more streamlined, we've scoured the web for genius products —packing cubes and easy-to-use folding boards among them — that will help you efficiently pack your carry-on bags.

Now all that's left to do is book a vacation. Beach trip, anyone?

Note: The prices below reflect the listed retailer's price on the date this article was published.

Raden A22 22 Inch Charging Wheeled Carry-On Suitcase ($295; nordstrom.com)

First things first. You need a carry-on suitcase that can carry your essential goods while still being TSA-approved. What's key is finding a piece of luggage that is smartly designed to provide plenty of space while also being light enough to ensure you aren't exceeding baggage weight limits. We recently tested Raden's A22 22 Inch Charging Wheeled Carry-On Suitcase and were impressed with how it fared in both the weight and space department. It's ultra lightweight, and that combined with its four silent spinner wheels, makes toting the piece completely seamless. The handles also act as a scale, letting you know the weight of your packed case. It's roomy and features zippered pockets to store smaller belongings. But what sets the A22 apart from standard luggage is its top-of-the-line smart features, including an integrated battery with two USB ports to charge your phone or tablet while on the move. Pretty genius, right?

Eagle Creek Pack-It Vinyl & Mesh Compression Sacs ($23.96; containerstore.com)

To get the most space out of your suitcase, compression bags help you pack more clothing. Often these space-saving sacks require a vacuum cleaner for the flattest result, but Eagle Creek's Pack-It Vinyl & Mesh Compression Sacs don't require extra equipment. Simply pack the bag, zip it closed and roll it to squeeze out excess air. It's ideal if you want to not compromise on the quantity of clothing you're packing on vacation. As an added bonus, the sacks are also water and stain resistant if you want to make sure your outfits stay safe from your carry-on liquids.

If your preference lies with packing cubes instead of compression sacs, over 4,000 people on Amazon swear by the Shacke Pack set of four packing cubes ($22.99, originally $39.99; amazon.com). This 4.8-starred product feature the same level of protection as the Eagle Creek sacs — like water resistant material and airtight packaging — but also is available for Amazon Prime's free two-day shipping, if you need a storage solution fast.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder Folding Boards ($4.99; containerstore.com)

The right fold makes all the difference when it comes to packing. If you can make your outfits as flat as possible, it gives you the freedom to pack more. And if you're not a great folder (hey, we're not judging) a folding board can help you master the perfect crease. This one from Eagle Creek gives you a visual tutorial on the most efficient fold and packing method. And by placing the board in your bag on top of your organized clothing, you can prevent your wardrobe from sliding around mid-flight. This will reduce the likelihood of wrinkles. At just under $5, it's a steal.

Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Backpack ($80; nordstrom)

Airline rules usually allow you to bring on two carry-on items. While not all airlines will allow those to be rolling suitcases, many permit one suitcase and one smaller piece, like a backpack. If your airline offers this option, we recommend you take advantage; it's a simple way to pack extra essentials. In terms of functional bags, Herschel Supply Co. has a number of picks that are designed with the traveler in mind. Its Retreat Backpack features a roomy interior and safe additional compartment for you to stow your laptop. Padded straps contour to your shoulders to make sure you can comfortably carry your load. But what seals the deal for us is the bag's modern design. With a minimalist finish, it can work just as well as a statement accessory.

Tide Sink Pack Liquid Laundry Detergent (pack of 12) ($16.61; amazon.com)

For extended trips, your week's worth of clothing might not be enough. That means a laundry day is in order. Tide has created small travel packs of detergent that are made for washing in the sink. These packets fit in the palm of your hand, ensuring they won't take up much space in your luggage. Just add the pre-packaged detergent to clothing in your room's sink, hand wash and leave your clothes to air dry overnight. Simple as that.

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