You guys, this post has been a LONG TIME coming. Over the last year, I’ve been able to pack for most of trips with just carry on luggage (minus our international trips overseas). Every time I mention packing, I get a ton of questions asking everything from WHY I pack only a carry on, to how in the world I’m able to make it work (since most of you see my outfit changes documented). 😉
SOME FAQs FOR PACKING
Why only a carry on? I don’t like my stuff out of my sight EVER. I’m just one of those people. There’s so much room for error, so many moving parts when it comes to traveling, so, call me crazy or paranoid… but, I just like to have my stuff with me in case of any issues. You’re always WAY more flexible when you have everything you need at your feet. Flight delays, missed connections — it’s just so much easier to deal with if you have your stuff. Plus, it saves time at the airport. One less line to wait in when getting to the airport, and it saves time when you land. You can literally just grab your stuff and walk out of the door. It’s magical.
How long are these trips you carry on for? The longest I’ve been able to go is 8 days, and it was for a tropical location. It’s MUCH easier with lightweight clothing and sandals than it is for a cold weather location! Most of my trips that I carry on for are between 3-7 days — I feel like that’s the sweet spot for sure.
What luggage do you use? I’ve had my Delsey set for over 3 years — I have the 21 inch, the 24 inch and the 28 inch spinners and typically end up using the smallest and largest sizes the most. For carry on trips, the 21 inch works perfectly and I’m able to fit all of my clothing, shoes, and toiletries right in that. I’ll bring my Lo & Sons weekender with me and keep my makeup, skincare, laptop, camera, chargers, and some of my delicate items (like bags and jewelry) in there as well.
MY PACKING TIPS
Do as much prep and planning as possible. I know that sounds simple, but until I started traveling very regularly, I used to just start throwing stuff in a suitcase and called that packing. Now, my packing actually starts with a list and the suitcase comes way later. I plan my outfits down to every little accessory ahead of time… something that was extremely difficult for me to start doing since I’m someone who has always dressed for my mood and created outfits on the fly. If I have a while before a trip, I will actually start organizing my clothing rack (or part of my closet) and move the pieces I know I will want to bring together — so everything is in one place, and so I can start envisioning how cohesive everything will be together.
Don’t pack pieces, pack outfits. As I mentioned above, I plan every little outfit ahead of time. After creating that initial running list of everything I WANT to bring, I start to go through and decide what to wear to what for most of the situations I know I’ll be in. What am I wearing to the beach? To walk around and explore? To breakfast? To dinners? What if we go and have lunch somewhere other than the pool? What am I traveling in? What can I workout in? I try to think of most scenarios — what if I’m cold, what if it rains, what if we go somewhere fancy? And, the most important — can this piece work a few different ways? I try to plan a color palette so that most pieces will work together and can be repeated if needed (or if plans get adjusted). I usually write down my outfits in the note section of my iPhone, so I don’t forget and start rummaging through my suitcase looking for something to wear. I can refer to all of my made up scenarios and pick the outfit that works best. If I happen to have time before a trip and am doing a try-on of some new pieces, I will sometimes snap a few photos in my mirror wearing a few of the looks to remember how I tied the look together!
The only “random” pieces you should throw in your suitcase are basics. Always, ALWAYS, bring a white tee with you. It’s one of those things that can totally transform an outfit. Already wore a dress for dinner, but want to wear that dress again for daytime? Throw a white tee over the top of the dress and knot it on the side — it will look like a tee and skirt! I’m also a HUGE advocate of having a classic button down shirt when traveling. I have a short sleeve one in white that’s one of my go-tos, but also love a striped one for a little print or pop of color. I use a button down to travel in, to throw over a swimsuit (to act like a coverup), and it goes with everything from jeans, to shorts, to skirts!
Limit items like extra pajamas, swim coverups, jeans, and toiletries you don’t use on a day-to-day basis. I typically only bring 1 set of pajamas for any trip 3 days and under and 2 sets for a week long stay. I limit myself to ONE bathing suit coverup, and try to use my daytime dresses or denim shorts and a button down as coverups as well. I always travel in my jeans, and that’s usually the one pair I’ll bring — so I make sure they are a pair that I can style a variety of ways if needed. For toiletries — I really try to bring what I know I’ll need, especially since I’m carrying my luggage door to door. I typically pack my full skincare routine (travel sizes for my cleanser and toner), travel sized shampoo and conditioners (unless I’m going to a really nice place with higher end products), a travel size of this body oil cleanser (which doubles as shaving cream), my razor, travel sized dry shampoo (which I will use for texturing spray if needed), a travel toothbrush and toothpaste (obv), makeup remover wipes (as opposed to liquid), travel sized sunscreen (you can find a ton of brands at Bed, Bath & Beyond — even spray), and a fold-able wet brush!
Roll all of your clothes. It really works! If you look at the picture above, you can see I rolled all of my clothing and lined them up down the suitcase, and then added some more around, and wherever else there was room. It also helps keep clothing from getting wrinkled!
Use every little nook and cranny. Stuff bags, and shoes with smaller items such as swimwear, underwear, jewelry/accessories.
Wear your heaviest pieces. I always travel in jeans, a tee, and some sort of sweater + my heaviest shoes. Most of the time, it’s sneakers (it just depends on the trip). I throw a pair of lightweight slide sandals into my duffel bag and change into them once we land!
Condense your bags. Since you’re only allowed two carry on items, make sure your purse can fit into whatever you plan to put under your seat. I typically use my smallest luggage (I have this set) when I’m carrying on — so that one goes up in the overhead bins. Whatever else I have is going under the seat. In the event that they run out of space in the overhead bins, or if you happen to get a seat without a row in front of you, they might want you to check your largest bag. So, MAKE SURE you have all of your important items with you (phone, wallet, chargers, medication, valuables, etc.)
If you want to see what I wore on my last two trips to get an idea of what I packed to head somewhere tropical, take a look at what I packed for Palm Beach and The Bahamas! You can also find more TRAVEL content including my favorite travel accessories, how to survive an overnight flight & tons of travel guides HERE!