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I’ve debated whether or not I should speak about this topic for quite some time. I know some of you may live by this packing strategy. If it works smoothly, then it’s not a problem.

However, not everyone may be as successful with this strategy. In fact, I’ve been a victim of this myself. You may end up at your destination shocked at the consequences. Be aware of this popular packing tip: wear your heaviest items on the plane.  

Because if you’re wearing it then it doesn’t count as items in your carry-on right? Maybe…but, not always.

  • Have you ever arrived at your destination and somehow your stuff no longer fits the second time you try to pack it?
  • Did you forget to account for the stuff you wore onto the plane? Sigh. I hate it when that happens. Don’t make that mistake!


Okay, before I continue, let me explain. Keep reading to find out why this common packing strategy can potentially become a packing disaster!


Is this the Best or Worst Packing Tip?


There are three reasons why people use this packing strategy of “wearing the heaviest stuff on their body” on a flight:

  • they’re flying with budget airlines and have limited baggage allowance
  • they’re traveling to a destination with cold weather
  • they have a complicated travel itinerary due to specific activities

Let’s look at each of these reasons and how you can avoid going from a smart carry-on traveler to an accidental packing disaster.


Budget Airlines



Should you use a coat’s pockets to stash your stuff and avoid baggage fees?


If you’re traveling on a super strict airline like Ryan Air or Easy Jet and just need to carry a few extra things on board you may prefer to wear some items on your body instead of going over their 7 kilo baggage allowance or bringing a second item on board.

You much rather wear a coat with large pockets and stash your makeup, keys, moisturizer, tablet, book, phone, and anything else you can possibly fit.



This scenario is pretty common and relatively problem free. You’ll only find yourself with a packing issue if you didn’t consider where you’d pack your “wear on board” items after you took them off upon arrival at your destination.


Remember that once you arrive at your destination and get started on your trip, you’ll need to have room to put everything back inside your purse or your luggage. Because, who wants to travel between cities or towns with everything they own in their pockets?


For added convenience, place loose items into smaller bags so things stay in place when they’re in your pocket, then pack away easily upon arrival.


Cold Weather



Doesn’t it make sense to wear your winter layers on a flight?


Unlike the “budget travel” scenario mentioned previously, travelers heading off into cold weather may use a similar carry-on strategy but might find themselves with a  more problematic packing issue upon arrival.

Let’s say you’re traveling in cold weather and it makes the most sense to wear all your bulkiest items on board the plane. Not only will this help you stay warm mid-flight but you can also avoid packing a massive coat and awkward boots into your suitcase.



Normally, this strategy is perfectly fine – so long as the weather remains the same throughout your trip and you plan on wearing the same coat (and possibly the same boots) if your itinerary consists of you moving quickly between destinations.

The complication lies if you didn’t consider the need to pack these items back into your luggage at some point in your trip. Perhaps you find that your coat and boots aren’t as necessary as you thought they’d be and now you’re dragging them around all over the place.

You may have saved space to meet airline regulations by wearing these items on the plane but you may still need to room in your luggage when you don’t need them.


Consider your mode of travel in between cities and always check the weather before you leave. Plan to use the exterior suitcase compartment to hold your jacket when you’re not wearing it or use a luggage strap.

Even when it’s cold outdoors there will be times when wearing a heavy coat will feel stuffy especially in overly heated subways, shops, and running around at an airport to catch your connecting flight.



choose varied boot styles: tall casual boot 


Follow these cold weather packing tips:


Travel to Multiple Climates or Different Settings



Choose jackets that are easy to pack such as this popular Patagonia style


The last and most common issue I’ve encountered is when travelers have multiple destinations with varying weather. They wear their heaviest items on the plane such as hiking boots and jackets in order to avoid adding weight or bulk to their baggage (whether checked or carry-on).

Again, the problem is when moving to your next destination and encounter a change of climate.



You may minimize the baggage weight during the flight but you still have to pack it up and drag it around when you get off the plane. If you didn’t account for these items when you packed initially then you may not have space in your bag when you re-pack at your destination.

Since you’re also visiting a warmer climate or may have periods when you’re not using your bulkier gear, you’ll definitely need the option to pack these items at some point in your trip.


Always pack every single thing when you do your packing test! Don’t omit the things you’ll wear in your flight because not every item you pack is even in weight and size. In order to account for variations in clothing and gear you need to pack it all during your test run – especially if you don’t plan to wear these items on a day to day basis.


This ensures that no matter what you wear when you arrive at your next destination you’ll always have space in your bag for everything. For more tips, please read our Guide to Packing for Multiple Climates.


Remember, if this is your packing strategy, it’s not necessarily a problem. It only becomes an issue when you don’t account for things you might need to pack during your trip.

Have you ever gone from carry-on to overpacker upon arrival at your destination? Comment!


For more travel packing tips, please read


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