Be it a trip of two days or two weeks: I will never check a bag at the airport.
You heard me! Unless I’m literally forced to (I’ve begged and pleaded with many a gate agent to avoid it) I’ll keep my little rolling suitcase and backpack with me at all costs. That’s right, if you see me at an airport 9/10 times I’ll have my rainbow carry-on suitcase and a small floral backpack and that’s it. My carry-on suitcase has been everywhere from Asia to Europe to Africa and she hasn’t failed me yet. Read on for my philosophy on why I’ll never check a bag and my tips for packing for two weeks in one carry-on sized suitcase!
Why I Carry-On All My Luggage
Growing up, my family exclusively flew on a stand-by status. For those unfamiliar, stand-by means we got to fly for free but only on flights with empty seats. This meant that we sometimes would end up at our destination a day later than expected, or in some cases, would have to go to a completely unplanned city for a hot second before reaching our final location. Basically, I got really used to missing flights and sleeping on airport floors.
You know what really sucks in these situations? Not having your toothbrush or extra changes of clothing. You know what sucks even more? You arriving at your destination but your bag getting lost along the way because you had to take a different route than originally planned. Yep. Less mishaps are likely to happen if your stuff is with you at all times.
Additionally, you won’t have to sit your travel-weary ass around at baggage claim waiting to pick up your bags. You also won’t have to figure out how to get your massive, oversized suitcase (that realistically takes two grown-ass men to carry) through a mile hike down a dirt road to your hotel in Thailand. I’ve seen it many times before and not once have the owners of said massive suitcase looked like they were having a good time. It’s just not worth it.
One Bag, Two Weeks
- Don’t Be a Diva Honestly, if you can master this step, you’re pretty much good to go. You’re off on an adventure, you will not (most likely) be attending a photo shoot every day or dining with super wicked hot models (trust me, I’m just as disappointed as you are). Get used to the idea that you won’t have your full wardrobe and bathroom with you. You’re going to make-do with a little less for this trip and that’s okay! I promise your photos will still be Instagram-worthy and your experience will most likely be better.
- Set a Shoe Limit I know, ladies, this is a tough one, but shoes take up a ton of room in suitcases. My rule is to only bring a maximum of three pairs of shoes (I shoot for two, if possible). One pair of sneakers, one pair of comfortable yet casual walking shoes, and one pair of nicer flats or sandals is typically all you’ll need. If you travel often, I recommend investing in shoes relatively neutral in color or that you know will match the majority of your clothing.
- Plan Outfits Ahead of Time Good news! Outfit repeaters aren’t penalized on vacation! When packing your suitcase, carefully choose outfits that can be mixed, matched, and layered. This can get tricky depending on your location (winter can be a bitch for travelers) but is 100% possible. A good rule of thumb is to keep larger items such as light jackets, coats and pants in neutral colors. Take the opportunity to show off color and personal style through tops and accessories as these items typically take up less space. Additionally, don’t be afraid to do laundry while you’re away. Most hotels offer a laundry service, or hit up a local spot.
- Cut Down on Toiletries You do not need your entire makeup bag and medicine cabinet with you on your trip. (I know, gasp!) If I’ve offended you, please return to the first tip. Find travel-sized versions of your must-have products and only bring the makeup that you genuinely use on the day-to-day. You won’t want to spend the precious time you have on your trip in the bathroom applying makeup anyway. There’s a whole world to explore!
- Roll, Don’t Fold Tightly rolling your clothing into little burritos will allow you to pack so much more into your carry-on suitcase! This makes a world of a difference especially when packing for longer periods of time. If you’re worried about your clothes getting wrinkled, bring a carry-on sized wrinkle release spray or hang clothes in your hotel bathroom while you shower for an easy way to steam outfits.
There you have it! These are my top 5 tips for packing when you can only bring a carry-on suitcase. What are your favorite packing hacks?