How to Pack in Only a Carry-on

Happy Friday!

Today’s Friday Five is five ways to pack in only a carry-on. I don’t know about you, but I hate the hassle of checking bags. First of all, most airlines have baggage fees – which is annoying. Second that’s a ton of time spent waiting to check the bag and then waiting for the bag to come out at the end of a flight. Not to mention the amount of times I’ve had a bag get delayed because it didn’t make it on my flight. Checking bags cuts into your vacation time and wouldn’t you rather be on the beach anyway!?

I first started this carry-on only trend back in high school and not by choice. My family is a family of six and six checked bags is just a lot of luggage and hauling around for a trip. My Dad travels a lot for work and decided we no longer were going to check bags. He went to TJ Max (his favorite store) and bought everyone a rolling carry-on and from then on, we never checked bags. At first, I was completely alarmed when the first time this occurred was on a two week vacation to Europe. But then I realized it’s really just a matter of strategic planning.

When I started thinking about how much of the clothes I was bringing back from a vacation clean and putting away it changed my perspective into carry-on packing. On a normal given day with my full closet on hand, I  usually only wear 2-3 outfits max. 

Here are my best tips for fitting your life into a suitcase for an extended period of time. I’m headed somewhere for the next ten days and will not be checking any bags! 

Cut Down the Amount of Outfits Worn Per Day

I try to only assume I’ll be wearing two full outfits per day. An outfit for the day such as a touristy outfit like shorts and a top and a more dressier outfit for dinner. This ensures that I am only bringing outfits that I will wear. I don’t count bathing suits into this and for a ten day trip I will usually only bring 3-5 bathing suits. They are small and easily packable. 

Plan Outfits Out in Advance 

Using the two outfit per day model, I outfit plan my clothes to only bring enough to give me two outfits per day. I’ll usually add one extra dressier outfit and an extra day outfit to give me the additional option just in chase. This is probably the hardest and most time consuming part of this process. It can be hard to plan out outfits when day-to-day activities are up in the air. I will try and bring pieces that I know can be worn for multiple activities such as a patterned top that can be worn with white pants for dinner or with jean shorts for an activity. 

Bring Versatile Pieces

A huge part of planning out outfits is re-wearing. One of my favorite things to bring on a trip is a black cotton loose T-shirt dress. This can easily be dressed up with strappy sandals and worn to dinner one night and the next day be worn with sneakers and a jean jacket for exploring the city.

Don’t Bring Multiples of the Same Thing

I constantly find myself packing three pairs of super similar jeans or two pairs of virtually the same shoe. I try and be strategic in what I pack and stick to the outfits I worked so hard to plan and know I don’t need ripped jeans and regular jeans.

Don’t Pack Favorites Without Being Strategic

I still find myself guilty of being fully packed with everything laid out and I see that one cute shirt hanging in my closet that I feel the need to bring “just in case.” A few just in case items are great, but too many ruins all the strategic outfit planning and can cause an overpacked suitcase. I try to remember I can’t bring all my favorite things and they will still be there when I get back it’s not like I’m giving them away and I have to choose. One of my ways to combat this is pack all my outfits I planned first and then if I have room add extra “just in case” pieces.

That sums up the basic model I follow for packing and when done right, I find I couldn’t even fill a large suitcase anyway. Especially on beachy vacations this is more practical. The more it’s done the easier it is. After years of packing in a carry on I’ve realized what I truly will wear and what I’m bringing just because I really like that particular top.

My other tip is to wear your bulkiest items on the plane such as a sweater or sweatshirt and carry items such as a sun hat. 

I hope this helps y’all cut down on the amount of time you spend waiting for checked bags and you’re are able to implement this into your own traveling tactics!

What are your best packing tips?!




Comments are closed.