I am absolutely #teamcarryon any chance I get because I like to travel light. When we went to Europe for the first time a few years ago for two weeks, we decided that the less luggage the better as we'd planned to visit several cities. My friends and family give me blank stares when I tell them I rarely check a bag but it's really super easy! Below are a few tips that I follow when packing for two weeks in one carry-on:
"The better the weather, the less clothes you need to pack!"
1. Check the weather.
This strategy works best when traveling to places with relatively warm climates as t-shirts and dresses take up less space than sweaters and scarves. If you have to pack even one sweater or pair of boots, I don't recommend attempting to pack just a carry-on for this long of a trip. Sorry!
So you've checked the weather and it's going to be nice and sunny. Or at least nice enough to get away with a light jacket that you don't have to pack. Now let's get packing!
2. Lay out every outfit so you can see it
I like to start with the days I'll actually be on the ground; travel days don't count as I usually wear the same outfit coming and going. For example, we were on the ground approximately 15 days so I needed at least 15 outfits. I even like to have two outfits per day just in case something unexpected happens and I need to change. OR in the off chance I throw caution to the wind and jump into the ocean. This hasn't happened yet but I like to keep my options open.
I start with jeans. I never wear jeans on the plane because duh they're uncomfortable and in my opinion unpractical for long haul travel. Then I move on to tops for said jeans (1-2 pairs) and dresses. The pièce de résistance is the shoes. Like any great outfit, you can lose it at the shoes.
"This jean jacket was light enough to wear on the plane and throughout Europe (twice) and Southeast Asia. The scarf is light enough to stuff in carry-on but warm enough for a light breeze."
3. Only pack 2-3 pairs of shoes
My experienced travel friends looked at that number and said, "2-3 is a luxury!", amirite? This is for those of us who think they have to bring half of their closet on vacation. You don't!
Not including the pair of shoes you wear on the plane, don't pack more than 3 pairs of shoes. Shoes are heavy and always take up more space than I expect them to.
Remember tip #1 that told you to lay out every outfit so you can see it? Pair your shoes with your outfits. If you have a pair of shoes that you love but you can't pair them with more than 1 outfit, leave them. Those adorable but clunky wedges or perfect pumps aren't compatible with the cobblestoned Parisian streets at 4am after a night out anyway. Your favorite pair of chucks (your ride or die sneakers that have traveled with you further than your husband) have no business coming with you on your beach vacation. Note to self.
4. How I pack my toiletries.
I have a harder time with my toiletries than I do with actually packing my clothes and shoes. The problem with packing for two weeks with just a carry-on is that you need to have tiny versions of everything you use at home in one tiny bag. And you want to have enough for the whole time you'll be away. But I've learned a few things to make this part of packing easier
1. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap to cut down on containers.
2. Do you really need all that mouthwash?....
3. Most of your favorite brands comes in carry-on size these days so you shouldn't have trouble finding what you use at home.
4. Pack your vitamins, pain meds, etc. in ziploc bags instead of packing the whole container.
5. If you'll be in one place long enough or traveling by train/car/bus to different cities, purchase your lotion and bigger items when you get there. This saves you from packing a ton of tiny lotions.
"I traveled for 10 days in Thailand (including a long layover in Seoul) with just my trusted carry-on."
5. Optional makeup and jewelry.
If you're the type to wear fashion jewelry, I suggest laying out your jewelry to match your outfits just like you did with your shoes. Pack these in a ziploc bag as well - don't pack another clumpy jewelry bag. I only wear a few rings that never come off, one necklace and switch between small hoop and stud earrings.
My makeup includes eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow pencil and chapstick. I might pack a few colored lipsticks but that's rare. I have a bag that allows me to pack my makeup in the same bag as my toiletries.
With these 5 easy steps you'll be a pro in no time traveling with a carry on!
That's it! Congratulations on packing for two weeks away in one carry-on! How does it feel?
Cheers to you! Now take that checked baggage fee and buy yourself a drink ;)
What advice do you have for packing just a carryon-on?
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