Dreams to Plans
Travel

How to Pack for a Month in a Carry-On

If I had to give you one tip to make extended trips easier and generally just more enjoyable, it would be to master the art of the carry-on. 

When I travel for long periods of time, I’m often hopping on and off public transport, in and out of rental cars, and making my way from flight to flight, so it really makes the entire process easier to have everything consolidated and manageable. Aside from that, there’s no risk of the airline losing your luggage AND you’ll avoid pesky baggage fees. Win, win here folks!

As I planned my month-long trip through Europe and then south Florida this past summer, I knew that I wanted to keep it as light and simple as possible. I squeezed everything I needed into my carry-on rolling suitcase (this one by Victorinox Swiss Army is my all-time favorite – been using it for years!) and backpack. 

Now, before I share my actual packing list, I do want to preface by providing a few things to consider and helpful tips to get you started –

Wear your bulkiest items on the airplane.

This will save you SO much space in your suitcase. Think: Jackets, sweaters, scarves, hiking boots and sneakers.

Invest in a capsule wardrobe.

It truly makes a world of difference – and if I could attribute my ability to pack lightly to one factor, it would, without a doubt, be this. Challenge yourself to see how many different variations you can make from a handful of clothing items. With a set color palette and a few versatile pieces, you would be amazed at how complete a travel wardrobe can be. There are so many wonderful companies that are creating them now, too, which makes it even easier! The one that I have, love, and use consistently while traveling in the warmer months is from a California-based brand called VacayStyle.  With just one of their collections, I’ve mixed and matched to create 18 different outfits. You can see some of the ways I’ve paired them on my travels below!

Travel Capsule Wardrobe VacayStyle

Choose neutral accessories.

Yes, I know, it can be tempting to bring a pair of shoes and a statement piece of jewelry to match every outfit but unfortunately, these things take up space quickly. Stick to one or two of each that you can style many different ways. Bonus points for sandals and purses that are foldable, and therefore, super packable!

Start packing early.

This will allow you ample time to arrange – and rearrange – your suitcase until you find the best, most efficient fit for everything! I’m very much a last-minute packer when it comes to short trips, but for long ones, I start a few days ahead of time to ensure that I don’t forget any important items and that everything I bring has its’ designated place.

You will need to do laundry.

It’s just part of the deal when going carry-on only, but is totally worth the return in my opinion! Most places have laundromats accessible and nearby, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, who knows – You just might meet some interesting characters or future friends while you’re in there!

Here is a list of everything that I brought along with me: 

INSIDE MY BACKPACK

  • Wallet (passport, credit cards cash)
  • Medication (asthma inhaler, allergy pills, stomach meds, Tylenol, vitamins and supplements)
  • Laptop and wall charger
  • iPhone and Apple Watch
  • 2 Charging Cables
  • Travel Journal
  • Wireless earphones
  • Zero waste kit – 2 sandwich sized Stasher bags, bamboo utensils, foldable silicone straws and a collapsible coffee cup)
  • A travel pillow and sleep mask
  • doTERRA Essential Oils (You can read more about my favorite ones for travel here.)
  • Sunglasses and prescription glasses

INSIDE MY SUITCASE

  • VacayStyle Capsule collection – 2 dresses, 2 skirts, 1 pant, 3 tops
  • 3 pairs of shoes – 1 black sandal, 1 gold sandal, one pair of sneakers
  • Roll Up Bag – Toothbrush, contact lenses, razor, hair scrunchies, bobby pins, dental floss, skincare products
  • Toiletry Bag – Reusable TSA bottles filled with my shampoo, conditioner and body soap (Note: I try to avoid using the mini bottles from hotels as to avoid plastic waste)
  • 2 sets of pajamas
  • 2 solid tank tops (black + white)
  • 12 pairs of underwear – It’s the one thing I refuse to skimp on.
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 solid black skirt
  • 1 bikini
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 3 bras – 1 padded, 2 sports
  • GoPro and tripod
  • 1 Purse – I love this one from Konfigur handbags because it’s reversible and goes with EVERYTHING!
  • Jewelry pouch – 2 pairs of earrings
  • Small Cosmetics Bag – Makeup, deodorant, lip balm, hairbrush

And there you have it! Everything that I need, nothing that I don’t. While it does take a little bit of practice and trial-and-error, the end result is incredibly rewarding. I want to encourage you to try it for yourself during your next long trip – Then, come back and let me know how it goes!

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