Pack Only Carry-on Luggage for Your Next Vacation

Pack only carry-on luggage for week-long or more vacation. When’s the last time you’ve done this?

Summer is here, and it’s time to relax! Do you have a system to pack for trips? If you’ve been one of my readers for a while, you know my family loves to travel! In this post, I’ll outline how I pack for 7+ day travel with only carry-on luggage.

Before I had children, I’d say I was a heavy packer. I didn’t want to regret not bringing that one dress or perfect pair of shoes. And what if the weather was different than forecasted? I had a “pack it all” approach which made me feel fully prepared but overloaded.

Then I had kids. It’s amazing all the stuff they need! From strollers to car seats, diapers, bottles, travel toys, clothes .… there was barely any room to think of myself after getting their stuff together! Quickly I became an efficient packer.

Now, no matter where I go, and for how long (except skiing), I pack only a carry-on suitcase and purse/bag for my trips.

My travel gear for the flight to Seoul, Korea.

This multi-layered travel outfit worked perfectly for my travel day to Seoul, Korea.

Packing can be a personal thing. But there are some fundamental principles we can apply to make packing smarter.

Tips to Help You Pack Only Carry-on Luggage

Clothing

  • Avoid heavy. Instead, bring clothing to layer for varying temperatures.
  • Bring staples in neutral colors (1 of each). Ideally, you can mix and match the pieces to get several looks.

(ex. button-down, black pants, cardigan sweater, blazer, light jacket/windbreaker, scarf or wrap, jeans)

  • If the weather allows, bring dresses made of light fabric (cotton, silk).

Not only are these types of dresses comfortable, but you can also dress them up or down depending on your mood. Roll the dresses for packing. They’ll condense into small pieces and won’t wrinkle.

Shoes

  • Limit shoes to 2-3 pairs (plus flip-flops) and wear your bulkiest shoes on travel day. It’s hard, I know. I always struggle with which shoes will be most versatile for my trip. A pair of nude or black block heels works well day or night. The types of shoes you pack will depend on your activity level planned for the trip.
  • Other than the one pair of heels, I bring a pair of running shoes and wear a pair of boots or street sneakers on travel day. I’ll throw flip-flops in the outer pocket of my carry-on for easy access on the plane.

Socks, underwear

Save space by wrapping these with plastic shower caps and tuck into your shoes.

Purse

Bring only one purse – the bag you use as your personal item with your carry-on suitcase. Use one of your makeup/toiletry bags as a small clutch for times you have only a few things to carry. Roll up a cloth bag to use as your “purse” during daytime sight-seeing.

Toiletries

Travel sizes – this is key to conserve space in your bag. You can always pick up more of what you need at your destination. I got a great all-in travel pack that worked out great.

Bring disposable razors and toothbrushes you can throw away before returning home.  And leave your hairdryer at home. I love my hair dryer, so this is tough for me! But I do bring my curling iron because of its necessity!

What’s In My “Pack Only Carry-on Luggage”

I fit all of these items into my carry-on and purse/bag. What do you think?

The necessities to document our trip.

If you found this post helpful, you’ll like my post-Travel Checklist for Efficient and Healthy people. And check out my Travel Section to get some destination ideas!

“Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt.” A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.