Betty Says: Travel Carry-On

One Week in a Rollaboard Suitcase

I’ve written about my ability to pack in a carry-on suitcase before, but this time I took detailed photos for the benefit of my friend who is just not a carry-on traveler. (Hi, Terri!) The hotel room lighting was mediocre, but hey, at least I remembered to take pictures this time… right before I collapsed into a jet lagged stupor.

First, start with a small rollaboard suitcase. This is the Travelpro Maxlite 2 20″ spinner. It’s not my favorite suitcase of all time, but I do love the spinner functionality. All of my suitcases will have four wheels from now on.


This is what it looks like when opened. The top section holds my traveling pharmacy, which contained everything but the hydrocortisone cream that I so desperately needed for my mosquito bites, and the gift for our friends’ daughter.


Inside, I used eBags packing cubes. I bought these on a whim when I bought the new suitcase. I thought that they would be particularly useful in separating clean and dirty clothes when on a multi-destination trip, as I was in March (two hotels in Germany, two hotels in London). The bottom layer of the suitcase is the largest of the cubes. It fills the length and width of the bag.


Layer two featured three of the eBags slim packing cubes, plus a curling iron. One cube held casual clothes, one held lingerie and pajamas and the third held the swimsuit and coverup that I never used. Why a curling iron when I never curl my hair? Because it’s dual voltage and hey, you never know. I used it once, just because I had it.


Layer three: a bag of miscellaneous toiletries; two pairs of shoes in protective bags; a hat.


Layer four: the wedged-in layer. Camera, umbrella, laptop cord, sunglasses, quart bag of liquids and one folded-up duffle bag in the event that I went on a shopping spree and needed to bring more stuff home, or in case I needed overflow because I couldn’t get everything folded back into its precise configuration.


This is what it looks like when unfolded. From left to right: two Athleta Whatever skorts; 3 pants; 2 blouses, 5 tanks and tees to layer under cardigans. Not shown: two cardigans that were left folded on the shelf.


The most amazing thing: I managed to fold it all up and get it back into the suitcase again for the flight home.

Do you have any packing tips? Share in the comments.

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3 Responses

  1. nancy says:

    I love, love, love those eBags packing cubes. I got a set several years ago and never pack w/o them. I’ve also turned several of my friends/family into packing cube fans. Mine are all medium size. I think I’ll get a few of the slim to round out my options.
    Also — I’m a roller. When I need to pack a lot into a carryon, I roll and wedge. Works like a charm.

  2. Lori says:

    I agree that once you go spinner, you never go back. I can’t justify one yet for my non-carry-on suitcase since the two-wheel suitcase I have still works, but I will not be sad when the time comes to replace it.

    One day I’ll get around to writing my post about how to pack for backpacking. I didn’t take pictures though and am trying to decide how insane it would be to pack for an imaginary trip to Burma just for the purpose of photographing it for the blog. I could always wait until we’re backpacking somewhere else, I suppose.

  3. Alisa says:

    And you didn’t tell me about them, Nancy? I’m hurt. 🙂 The large of the multi-size cubes and the three slim cubes seem to be the most relevant because they max out the width of the bag. The small and medium in the multi-size seem to be more useful for irregularly shaped bags, like backpacks, gym bags or totes.

    And yes, I’m a roller. Roll and wedge all suitcase contents.

    Lori, I never managed to remember to photograph the unpacking before, and I almost fake-packed a bag to do this post. So I think that packing for an imaginary trip to Burma is only moderately insane.

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