Packing Two Weeks of Clothes in Your Carry On

Packing Two Weeks of Clothes in Your Carry On

I am often asked how I manage to pack two weeks of clothes in a carry on.  So, in today’s post I’m giving you ten tips to packing a carry on for two weeks!

Tip 1: Pick the Right Carry On  

  • I’m not talking brand or style; I’m talking size. The number one reason people like to pack only a carry on is to save money on the baggage fees! Budget travel, remember?  So whether you’re planning an international trip or hoping to take a trip across the pond some day, you’ll want to consider investing in a carry on that can be used for not only domestic, but international flights, as their sizes vary from the U.S.  Use this site to take a look at the carry on requirements by airline.

Tip 2:  Plan Your Outfit in Advance (Prep)  

  • And all my type A people said AMEN.  For your procrastinators out there, this is a biggie!  Plan out every outfit for every day.  Try on the outfit.  Figure out what you would do if you had inclement weather (rain, snow, etc) and plan for that, too. And then here’s the kicker: STICK TO IT.  Look, I’ve been there, too.  We all have had those moments where we think we have finally cracked the code to packing and then as we’re about to head to the airport we frantically pack three more shirts, two more dresses, one more pair of heels “just in case.”  Don’t be a frantic packer, be prepared.

Tip 3: Pack Versatile Clothes

  • By this I mean pack classic pieces that can be worn a variety of ways.   If you looked in my closet you’d see one consistent color: black.  I can’t help it if  black goes with everything!  What I try to do is pack 5 essential pieces and then find a way to mix those pieces up.
  • One of my favorite stores is Madewell. A few of the pieces pictured above are from this store and I love them.  I can make three outfits out of my black skirt alone–dressing it up or down! Also, the chambray off-the-shoulder top is always a great neutral that can be paired with so many options. Keep in mind your weight limit. Get creative with your style. And don’t forget airbnb’s have washer/dryer options.

Tip 4:  Packing Cubes

  • Once you’ve figured out what you’re packing, use packing cubes to keep it organized.  I  bought these when we were packing for our honeymoon and use them all the time.  If you’re planning a trip that involves you hopping from city to city, packing cubes can be a lifesaver.  You can find them here and they come in all sizes and colors.
  • At the end of our trip, I put all of our dirty clothes in one packing cube.  Makes it easy to unpack!


Tip 5: Roll Your Clothes

  • I’ve seen several posts on the flat lay vs roll debate when packing, but I am partial to the roll.   Make sure when you roll you’re rolling the clothes tight; it’ll save space. Under garments and articles of clothing that you don’t have to worry about wrinkling, stuff in your shoes.
  • Next, wear your heaviest or bulkiest items for the flights. For example, if you packed tennis shoes, sandals and flats for your trip: wear the tennis shoes because they take up more space.  Did you pack a sweater or cardigan?  Airplanes are generally cold so you’ll want it eventually.  Better to wear it and save some space than dig through your carry on at 10,000 feet while knocking into your flight companions as you spill their luggage onto them.
  • When we were packing for our winter trip to Iceland, I “forced” Gus to wear four pants and three shirts.  I doubt he was thrilled with the idea, but he did it and we made the weight limit.  He was also able to take a couple layers off once we boarded.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice. Also, surprisingly he didn’t resemble the Michelin man with all those layers on!

Tip 6: Don’t Over Pack Your Bathroom Items  

  • This one is tricky and one I always struggle with it.  To the ladies out there who are amazing with makeup, I applaud you, and would love you to come visit me and teach me how to contour my face correctly.  However, let’s be real.  Leave the contour kit at home and pack only the essentials.  Nix the makeup bag and move your products to a ziploc bag—it’ll take up less space.
  • Okay, now let’s talk hair.  Always confirm your hostel/airbnb/hotel has a blow dryer.  If they do (or you can go without), leave yours at home.  Also, dry shampoo is life and comes in carry on sizes (can I get a hallelujah!?).  I’ve linked my favorite here.  I tried the travel size straightener once and it was a big FAIL.  I don’t recommend anything that will double your “getting ready” time.  If you have to have a straightener or curling iron pick one, not both. If all else fails, girl, pack a hat.

Tip 7: Leave the Fine Jewels at Home  

  • I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t recommend packing jewelry.  Anything that is going to make you stand out like a tourist or a potential easy target for pickpocketing–I would advise against.  I don’t even wear my wedding rings when we travel overseas.  I have a very simple unassuming band I wear.  Just don’t overdue it with flashy earrings, necklaces, etc.  In this case, less is more.

Tip 8: Don’t Pack the Medicine Cabinet

  • I won’t pretend like I haven’t done this before. Let’s flashback to my first Europe trip when I packed every medicine under the sun and used NONE.  The two I pack no matter what are Benadryl—who knows what you’re allergic to and Pepto —trying new foods can be a love/hate thing, folks.  Ask Gus he enjoyed food poisoning while in Scotland (a story for a different blog post!).   There is a pharmacy or drugstore every where you go; it’s just nice to have a few items on you in case of an emergency.

Tip 9: Travel with a Backpack   

  • If we need extra space, our  backpack always serves as our overflow space.  It’s also where we pack our souvenirs.  I usually also have a small purse I use when we are out and about in the city, and it fits well in my backpack.

Tip 10:  Don’t forget the carry on essentials

  •  I always make sure that no matter what I have these items with me at all times:
    • Headphones: in case the ones they give you on the plane don’t work and you want to watch a movie or listen to music.
    • Entertainment: I like to read so I always pack a book.  Whatever you enjoy, make sure you bring some kind of distraction for the long flights (kindle, book, computer, iPad, etc).
    • Eye mask: Trust me on this. You’ll want this on an overnight flight if you happen to have a husband that DOES NOT SLEEP ON PLANES! Or for that neighboring seat mate who has the annoying overhead light on.
    • Makeup remover/chapstick/toothbrush:  The little things that help you feel refreshed after a long flight.
    • Luggage scale:  I like to check and double check that I am not going over the weight limit!
    • Scarf/Cardigan: To keep warm. I hate being cold, I also own more airport blankets than I care to admit due to forgetting this piece.  Now, there’s forever one in my car (just to be safe!).

Alright, there you have it! Two weeks in a carryon.  Thank me later for saving you baggage fees, the dreaded lost bag scenario, and the waiting the long line in baggage claim.



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Haley Milan

Consumed by wanderlust, fueled by coffee, determined to live a minimalist lifestyle and collect moments, not things. Join me on my travels and an every day life of simplicity!

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