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After years of traveling you soon realize that bringing a carry-on bag is way easier than checking a bag. Carrying a carry-on avoids baggage fees, not having to worry about the airlines losing your luggage and being less encumbered by heavy bags. And while other fliers are waiting at baggage claim watching the belt, you could be in a cab on your way to your adventure.


The hard part is figuring out how to squeeze everything into a single carry-on and personal item, even for trips that could be weeks long. Below is a list of advice from people who only carry-on and manage to successfully pack their necessities in such a small bag.


Packing Example No. 1: A Long Trip Through Multiple Climates


Traveling through South America from the chilly mountains to sunny beaches? Don’t worry. Even this can be done with a carry-on.


First off, if you’re going for much longer than a week, resign yourself to doing a little laundry. You can either pay the hotel to do it for you or find a nearby laundromat.


Second, get creative. This is when you consider what those dual-purpose travel garments are actually worth the money, like pants that can turn into shorts by zipping off the legs or jackets that have a gazillion pockets for all your odds and ends. It’s also important to choose your carry-on wisely. Make sure that it has enough pockets and compartments to help keep you organized.


Packing Example No. 2: A Week on a Cruise Ship


Shorts, bathing suits and tank tops are easy enough to pack, but the most common sticking point for cruisers is a formal night. How can I get a tux or an opulent ball gown into that teeny little carry-on?


Luckily, these days you don’t really have to. Many cruisers opt to skip formal night altogether and head to the buffet or order room service instead. But if getting gussied up for formal night is as much a part of your dream cruise as ocean breezes and fruity cocktails, you’ve got options. Men can pay to rent a tuxedo on some ships if they want to dress to the nines. But on many cruise lines, you can get by with nice slacks and a jacket. Bring multiple ties to change your look if there’s more than one formal night.


For ladies, think little black dress. If there are a couple of formal nights on your cruise, save space by wearing the same dress twice with different scarves, shawls, jewelry or other accessories. Choose shoes that can also go with sundresses or other less formal outfits at dinner the rest of the week.