Now that Canada’s biggest airlines are planning on charging travelers for every checked bag (including the first one), we’ve decided it’s time to embrace going with just a carry-on wherever possible. After all, it’s way more fun to spend money at your destination instead of at the airport, and they’re already making a killing off us.

Of course, that means cutting back on the size and weight so you can maneuver around a plane with your bag. We’ve got a few tips to help you make the most out of that small suitcase without having to give up on essentials. (Note: clean underpants are always a must).


Why you think you need it:  No one wants to be running around with soaking wet, limp hair during a vacation (at least not in the days of Instagram), so a daily blowout can be pretty crucial.

Why you don’t:  Every hotel has one. It may not come with all the settings and probably won’t have the same power, but you can get the wow without the weight with a bit of patience. As far as things that take up space in your suitcase, there aren’t many things that beat the awkwardness of a hairdryer, and yeah, we’re side-eying the travel ones too.


Why you think you need it:  For the same reasons as above, mostly. Your hair routine, from the basics of shampoos and conditioners to the more elaborate styling creams, feels pretty essential in day-to-day life. As does covering up those under-eye shadows, you got since your last break.

Why you don’t:  All those bottles and compacts (even if you go mini) will push you over the carry-on limit and, quite frankly, weigh you down. So instead, save your back and your wallet by trying combos like a tinted moisturizer with SPF and packing some hair elastics and pins instead.


Why you think you need it:  In between all the time spent traveling (and potentially lounging on the beach), vacations seem like a great time to catch up on that reading list you’ve been adding to — and you can’t deny a good story is a great way to pass the time.

Why you don’t:  Unless you’re traveling with the cheapest of airlines, you should have some in-flight entertainment to enjoy. Or, far more likely, since you’re finally on a break, you’ll spend more time catching up on your sleep than reading. As for finally plowing through  War and Peace  while at your destination, why not go exploring instead? We guarantee it will be more interesting.


Why you think you need it:  You definitely can’t be wearing your sneakers to a nice restaurant or heels on the beach; it just doesn’t work.

Why you don’t:  The amount of space you will lose to shoes alone, let alone the back-breaking work of hefting your summer collection while running through an airport. Versatility is key when you travel, especially with shoes. Aim for three neutral pairs: one for walking during the day, sandals for the beach and casual events, and another for those evening events (you can even go with a nice pair of sandals and start saving space, you pro).


Why you think you need it:  The idea of disconnecting seems insane in this working world, not to mention the fact you still need your eReader, camera, and phone to stay entertained and grab some memories.

Why you don’t:  You are on vacation—stop working! And if you need to keep in touch with everything, stick to a smartphone or tablet that will give you access to most of what you need in one place. It’s no DSLR, but you can still capture memories with your phone and deal with the most important work stuff without carrying all those extra gadgets and cords (some of which you will inevitably forget in the hotel).


Why you think you need it:  It’s one of the easiest ways to dress an outfit up—which means it can help out if you’re cutting back on the clothes you’re bringing. And if like so many of us are, you’re off to a wedding, having something nice to top things off with never hurts.

Why you don’t:  You can easily get away with bringing some jewelry, but instead of aiming to have something for every outfit, look for a couple of pieces that will go with most of what you’re bringing. Not only will you again save on what you have to carry, but you don’t have to worry about losing all your valuables if something goes wrong. Could you keep it simple?


Why you think you need it:  Unless you’ve planned every second of your vacation (and hopefully you haven’t because it’s time to have some freewheeling fun), there’s a good reason to want to be prepared for whatever; who will throw occasions or weather your way.

Why you don’t:  While weather reports aren’t always the best, they’re a pretty good guide as far as figuring out what you really need to pack—and wherever you end up, if something comes up, you can always grab what you need there. So instead, pack a couple of pairs of jeans—no one will notice if you cycle them, and grab a few neural tops you can mix around and layer.


Why you think you need it:  Yes, anything can go wrong and sometimes does. Other times you want to make sure you’ll have whatever you might end up needing, from ibuprofen to cotton swabs. Always be prepared is a motto for a reason, right?

Why you don’t:  Because chances are you won’t be going anywhere so remote that you can’t find this stuff on the off chance you do end up needing it. While it can’t hurt to throw a couple of Band-Aids in your bag, you don’t need an entire first aid kit (or whatever else you were planning on bringing “just in case”).


Why you think you need it:  Eating equals survival.

Why you don’t:  Airport food can be expensive, but it’s not like you’ll be making a habit of eating at them. Meanwhile, some countries have pretty strict rules about what you can bring in, and we can assure you the pre-flight gorge is not satisfying (nor does it make for a comfortable flight). Worried about strange food wherever you’re going? Trying new things is the point of getting away.

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