Skip to Content

✨ We’re Ireland’s most competitive car insurance broker!^✨Insurance up for renewal? Get a Quote today!


AA Roadwatch

How to pack carry-on luggage like a pro!

Published 9th August 2018Read Time 5 min

A talent is (air)borne

There are good and bad things about long distance relationships. Well, I’ve found at least one good thing; I can now fit everything plus the kitchen sink into a single piece of hand luggage.
It all started when my boyfriend, now husband, decided to become a pilot. Never marry a pilot, ladies and gentlemen: it’s not that glamorous and there are a lot of snot-filled, tearful goodbyes in airports.
Luckily for the the AA Travel Insurance team, my nine-year long distance relationship meant that I became particularly good at packing. They challenged me to put my money where my mouth is and share what I’ve learnt, so here it is; my tricks and advice for packing a small carry-on case.

The basics

  • Make a list, actually make two. The mother list of everything and a smaller list of things you need to pack the morning of your trip; sunglasses, chargers, passports, toothbrush, etc.
  • Wear your bulkier fabrics, like denim, thick-soled shoes, a cardigan or coat to travel in.
  • Roll your clothes. It takes up a lot less room than folding. For this one, perhaps don’t use items that crease easily and start by filling the grooves of the case.
  • Plan your outfits wisely. Use clothes that are interchangeable to reduce the amount you take.
  • Stack your bikinis and bras on top of each other and stuff them with smaller pieces of clothing to help them hold their shape.

Nappy bags and cling film

  • Yes nappy bags, hear me out… They’re useful for so many things; bringing wet items home (like your swimming togs) or separating dirty clothes from clean. On the way over, I like to use them for stuffing my smaller items (ahem) and socks into my shoes, without said items picking up a smell. Not that my shoes smell…
  • Buy cling film, and no, I’m not going all Fifty Shades of Grey here. Wrap it over the top of any bottles or containers, under the lid, to prevent your liquids from spilling all over your bag. You can also use it to make sure your necklaces don’t get tangled. Lay one piece on the table, put your jewellery on top, cover with another piece of cling film, press down and then fold.

Kiss and make-up

  • Stock up on samples. If you’re buying a cream in your local pharmacy, don’t forget to ask for samples. They take up hardly any room and are very worth it.
  • Do you need your entire foundation bottle or that big tub of face cream? Nope! Dispense your creams and makeup into smaller tubs or bottles.
  • Prevent your compacts from breaking by stuffing them with cotton rounds. Simples!
  • I always bring a pair of warm socks for the flight as my feet get really cold, but you can also use them to protect your make-up palettes. I like to stuff them inside both socks for good measure.
  • Don’t forget to pack your liquids near the top of your case so they’re easy to get out when going through security.
  • Check with the hotel or wherever you’re staying and see if they have a hair dryer. It will save you a lot of space.

The best of the rest

  • Pack a handbag that folds flat. If the airline staff decide to take your carry-on bag, you can always stuff it with your valuables and most important items before they take it away.
  • Wrap wires (headphones & chargers) with hair bobbins to prevent tangling and stow them in your sunglasses case so they’re easily accessible.
  • An extension lead can be really useful while you’re away. Use your international adapter and then an extension lead to plug a couple of electrical items in at the same time. The more expensive ones have USB ports too.
  • When it rains here it really pours, so if you’re worried about water getting into your luggage, wrap everything with black plastic bags.
  • Always keep your passport, boarding pass, iPad and laptop easy to hand by packing them in the front pocket of your case – but never leave it unattended.

Don’t forget!

Wherever you’re packing for, we hope that everything will run smoothly. However, AA Travel Insurance will give you the peace of mind that you need before you jet off.
If you take out an AA Travel Insurance policy from €10 between 20th August and 30th September 2018, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a €1,000 Aer Lingus voucher! T&Cs apply – please see