Pack A Perfect Carry-On Bag Every Time With This Formula

Pack A Perfect Carry-On Bag Every Time With This Formula

There are a lot of creative ways to pack your carry-on bag, but you can easily break it all down into a simple formula. This number-based packing method will make sure you have what you need in your carry-on, and still have room for souvenirs. Photo by Alan Levine.

Having a packing routine can make the whole process a lot easier, especially if it’s as easy as counting off a few clothing items you like to wear. Jenni Avins at Quartz suggests you break it all down like this (pack in order):

  1. Seven items of lounge/underwear.
  2. Four items of middle layers (pants, shirts, etc.).
  3. Three items of exercise clothing (taking up precious carry-on space with it encourages you to workout).
  4. Two items of outer layer clothing that you wear on the plane (sweaters, jackets, etc.).
  5. Two pairs of shoes (one pair you’re already wearing).
  6. Accessories can take up whatever room is left.

This simple method should set you up for at least five days to a week, and you’ll probably have plenty of room to spare. If it’s a short trip you won’t need much else, or if the airline loses your checked baggage you’ll be all set for a while. You can learn more great carry-on packing tips at the link below.

A simple, mathematical formula for packing your perfect carry-on [Quartz]


  • I take it this advice is for the sort that try to put suitcases in the overhead lockers, leaving no room for anyone else.

    • You can get a range of cabin bags that would fit this, and depending on the size of that, and what else you try to take on board, you may be set. But most airlines have a 7kg cabin baggage allowance. Thats any bags (handbag, laptop, manbag, “satchel”) and your cabin bag. Good luck fitting under 7kg on Austrlaian domestic flights with the above.

      • Is overhead space that big an issue these days?

        I always see the ridiculous people with full sized suitcases trying to board the plane, but even so I always pack a full, large backpack and have never not been able to stow it.

        • In my experience it depends on the airlines enforcement of their policies and how late you board. If you’re the last on the plane you may find there’s no space.
          Some airlines have been stringent in applying carry-on sizes and weights, others haven’t and I’ve seen people stroll in with two large bags each.
          I’ve also seen some airlines bring out the little under-the-seat wire-frame. If you can’t fit your carry-on there, you’re checking it in.

  • It’s all clothes?

    Wear a hoody and jeans, pack shorts and t-shirts, then fill remaining space with as many from the following list as possible:

    Laptop, tablet, DSLR, pocket camera, headphones, chargers, mp3 player and sunglasses.

  • Nice concept but mediocre execution

    The author breaks their own rules in the linked article by taking 15 items of “lounge/underwear”. And a 3rd item of “outerwear” despite saying this was a swap option.

    As an aside, it’s not clear why they took 7 pairs of underwear for 4 days away. Accidents perhaps!?

    Biggest oversell was the lack of any “mathematical formula”. I’m sure someone with a Sheldon-esque attention span and OCD could prepare one, but it’s probably not really necessary.

    I just tend to do some forward anticipation of what will actually be required rather than what seems like a good idea. The aim is to take the bare minimum. Mainly since there are a couple of considerations the author didn’t mention such as weight, and leaving room for toiletries and electronics.

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