Travelling overseas? Here’s how to take carry-on only

Here are the space saving packing hacks for travelling with carry-on

Written by Medibank

Packing for a trip overseas can sometimes feel like you’re trying to fit your entire wardrobe into a shoebox, and no suitcase is ever big enough. But what if we told you it didn’t have to be this way; that you could avoid the tight squeeze, the anxious wait by the carousel, and the heavy lug to your hotel?

The trick is to take a carry-on suitcase and nothing else. Not only will this make your life easier in transit, it will simplify decisions when you’re on the road. Below are our packing hacks for travelling overseas with nothing but your carry-on.

Select your shoes wisely

Shoes are often the biggest culprit for taking up space in the suitcase. Always lean towards more comfortable and versatile footwear that you know you can wear day after day without giving yourself blisters. Generally, two to three pairs of shoes should do the trick for a two-week trip.

To maximise on space, stuff these with socks and other small items - every nook and cranny counts when you’re travelling with carry-on only.

Visualise the activities you’ll be doing

Next, lay out all the clothes you want to take out on your bed. It may be a large overwhelming pile, but that’s ok for now. Think about the activities you know you’ll be doing on your trip -- whether it’s a cruise, hiking trail or urban getaway -- then prioritise and scale items back as needed.

Generally, when it comes to minimalist packing, it’s best to think about style that you can mix and match with each other. For instance, a white shirt that you can wear casually with jeans, as well as formal pants for a special occasion.

Get ready to roll

Now it’s time to roll. Because space is a valuable carry-on commodity, it’s best to tightly roll up each individual item. This will not only economise on space in your bag, it will also help prevent your clothes from creasing on the way there.

Once you’ve rolled up your clothes, try packing in the following order:

  • Heaviest items: Place your shoes as a pair on the base of your suitcase, alongside any heavy outerwear.
  • Thick layers: On the second layer, add the larger rolled up items like jumpers and jeans.
  • Thin layers: Next, medium rolled items like shirts, skirts and shorts can go in. And on top of that, delicate clothing like silk shirts.
  • Travel essentials: On the final layer, pack items you might want quick access to on the plane or as soon as you land, like toiletries, chargers and local currency.

Be strategic by wearing bulky items on the plane

Make sure to put aside your heaviest items - coats, jackets, or boots -- and wear these on the plane. Not only will this free up valuable space in your carry-on, it will also help keep your bag within the required weight restrictions.

Airlines often allow you to bring a handbag or laptop on board in addition to your carry-on suitcase. Make good use of this extra space by filling it with essentials you might need on flight.

Only bring toiletries you can’t live without

It’s important to keep in mind that almost all airports won’t allow you to take liquids of more than 100ml on the plane. Make sure to buy your go-to products in travel sizes or alternatively buy some small refillable bottles and fill these instead.

Alongside the daily essentials in your toiletry bag -- deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste -- prioritise multipurpose items that you’ll make good use of while travelling. For example, argan oil that you can use as both body moisturiser and hair conditioner.


Think bare necessities: sunnies, chargers, and local currency. Unless you plan on going off the grid, it’s also essential you pack an adaptor for any overseas travel. These can be difficult to find once you leave the airport, so make sure you don’t forget it.

And you’re ready for take-off

Grab your passport and you’re set to go. Once you’ve mastered the art of packing your carry-on suitcase, you’ll never look back thanks to the added convenience and ease. Travel safe and enjoy strolling past the luggage carousel when you land.

Always be on the safe side when you travel by taking out comprehensive travel insurance. Medibank Travel Insurance gives you overseas leading hospital, accident and medical evacuation cover while you’re travelling. And with our comprehensive plans, you'll have cover for a host of other surprises like lost luggage, unforeseen cancellations and rental car insurance excess.*

* Important things you should know: Limits, sub-limits, exclusions and conditions apply. This is general advice only. Medibank Private Limited, ABN 47 080 890 259, an Authorised Representative, AR 286089, of Travel Insurance Partners Pty Limited, ABN 73 144 049 230 AFSL 360138, issues the insurance on behalf of the insurer. The insurer is Zurich Australian Insurance Limited ABN 13 000 296 640, AFSL 232507. Please consider your own needs and the Combined FSG/PDS available from Medibank stores or medibank.com.au/travel to decide if this product is right for you.

Written by Medibank

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