Packing Light | Mastering the Carry-On Challenge

Long lines. Extra fees. Baggage claim. Skip that – I’m an avid fan of the carry-on bag. But one thing that can be challenging – getting ALL of your stuff into that one small roller bag. I know, you never know the occasion, or you’ve been looking for a place to wear those cute new shoes (and vacation dinner seems like the perfect time).

Let me tell you: travel light! Less weight to lug around, less decisions you have to make, and less stress when you’re trying to fit all those souvenirs into your already stuffed bag! My tips to succeeding at the carry-on challenge: 1) pack only what you need; 2) think layers and recycling; 3) be reasonable and realistic.

Pack only what you need

When you’re traveling, there is always a lot of “what-ifs” – what if we go to a fancy dinner, what if I want to change in the evening, what if it gets really cold? Although we can’t predict all the “what ifs” – there are ways to plan for a few. First instance – weather. I always take a look at the weather forecast a week before, and then again 2-3 days before.

Making a list ALWAYS helps, whether the trip is 1 night or 4 nights. Typing & printing lists with checkbox bullets, or putting them on Google Keep makes it super easy when you’re in the packing phase. That way, when I’m pulling all my outfits – I don’t do the endless grab and pack, without strategizing.


Think layers and recycling

Clothes can take up the most space. Really, we’ve all been there – found we overpacked, and barely even touched most of the clothes you took. When it comes to outfit planning, I have 3 guidelines – 1) must have worn it before and know I’ll be comfortable wearing it again (read: no new outfits); 2) usually must have flexibility in layering/re-wearing (such as a top that works alone and with a cardigan); 3) number of days traveling ÷ 2 for the number of jeans/pants you should pack. To succeed in those guidelines: I always wear jeans at least twice, pick one cardigan to serve as my cardigan for the whole trip, and usually pick a neutral theme (blacks or browns) so that all my layers and shoes work together. Laying out all the outfits to make sure they work together and cross-over nicely is helpful… may take longer, but it’s worth it.


Be reasonable and realistic

That new bold color blazer? Super cute! But that could take up a lot of space in your bag, and you only MIGHT wear it! It’s always important to be realistic in what you pack. How many times are you really going to wash your hair? Skip the full bottle. I’m not a girl that has a laid out itinerary for every trip, but I make a point to have an idea of what I’ll be doing, and plan for that – for instance, I rarely wear heels during trips (unless it’s a wedding) so although I may think this specific pair of heels look great with this dress, I typically skip and stick to the basics – a pair of black flats, pair of tan flats, and a pair of black sneakers (and sometimes a pair of flip flops). As for makeup, no need to bring my ENTIRE case of makeup – I grab the couple of essentials and stick them in my toiletry kit. TIP- that’s where those makeup samples come in handy!


These are tips in which have helped me minimize from one full-size bag plus a small roller carry-on, to one carry-on roller and a purse, when I’m able to travel light. What tips have you implemented that has helped?

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