Pack a week in a Carry On

I know there are probably a million tutorials out there about how to pack just using a carry on, but all of those had you wearing the same shirt over and over again.  No thanks.  I travel a lot for work and dont have time to wait around at baggage claim for a suitcase, I had to learn real quick how to pack efficiently.  Bonus for personal trips, it saves money on checking bags!  Ok I still dont pay to check bags thank you United Mileage Plus card, but still paying for bags is silly.  Here is what I have learned through trial and error on packing.


Pack clothes that are wrinkle resistant, synthetic fibers work best.  Linen is the worst, just dont travel with linen its a bad idea.  Who wants to iron!  Limit your shoes.  I bring 1 on my feet and 1 in my suitcase.  Limit the pants as well.  I bring one on my body and 1 in my suitcase.  Pants take up a lot of room but can really be worn more than once.  Streamline your beauty routine.  I bring mascara, powder, black eyeliner and under eye concealer.  Sometimes on vacation I will add glitter jumbo eye pencil to feel fancy but really I dont need makeup taking up precious space.   For your skincare routine think travel size.  Those big containers first of all wont pass security so squeeze some into  a travel container, label it and you are good to go.  Some brands sell travel size as well.  I refill the travel size from my full size when I run out.  If you workout on trips like I do bring the items that take up the least amount of space and can be worn again if you dont sweat too much.  If you dont plan on working out then you have even more space!  When I travel for work I bring my laptop bag and use that as my personal item.  When I travel for vacation I bring my camera bag.  Both have a decent amount of space to hold things like liquid bag, headphones, chargers, tablet etc.  Make sure your personal item has space to hold thing if not just for the flight.  Once you get to where your going you can rearrange things.


Space saving tips!  Squish things that can be squished into your shoes.  I bring my workout headphones, ipod, sweatband and squich all of that plus the socks into my shoes.  Roll your shirts into a hotdog like shape, this takes up less room than folding them and i have found keeps your clothes less wrinkled than folding.  Use your clothes as padding, I have to bring my camera for work but dont want it to get damaged so I use my clothes as cushioning.  Dont bring long pant/shirt PJ’s this just takes up too much space.  Crank the heat in the hotel room, you arent paying for it!  Keep in mind long sleeve shirts take up more space than tshirts or tanks.  Consider wearing a jacket on the plane and bringing shirts with shorter sleeves if you are worried about space.


Now, my packing list for a 4 day trip.  If I had to extend this to a full week I would be able to no problem because I had plenty of space left.  Its a little long but it 100% fits into my laptop bag and carry on luggage piece.  Remember you are allowed 2 items on most flights so use that to your advantage!  Below is what I packed for my trip 2 weeks ago.


  • 3 tops
  • 1 pant
  • 1 shoe
  • toiletry bag
  • liquids bag (carry on you have to remove your liquids so come prepared and have them in a separate bag that is easily accessible during security)
  • Noise cancelling headphones*
  • Undergarments
  • 1 sports bra
  • 2 workout shorts
  • 1 workout top
  • 1 Pajama set
  • 1 running shoe/socks
  • iPod
  • workout headphones
  • sweatband
  • headband
  • 1 scarf*
  • Tablet*
  • Laptop
  • work papers and notebook
  • Nikon Camera
  • Laptop / phone / tablet / camera chargers
  • Clarisonic
  • Pegasus—dont judge me
  • Make up bag
  • medicine
  • Jacket (depending on the weather, but worn onto the plan to save space)

The only thing I will note here is that if you are using this method for vacation there isnt much room left for souvenirs.  If you plan on buying a lot I would still use this idea to pack really light just use a bigger suitcase so you have room to bring things back.


Marked with * are things I cant live without on a plane.  I am usually on shorter flights so in flight entertainment doesnt exist.  I bring my tablet stocked with TV Shows and movies to keep me occupied.  Bose Noise Cancelling headphones to drown out that screaming baby (ugh!) and a scarf for those smells on the airplane you just cant escape.  You know what I mean 😉

Do you follow some of the same principles when you pack?  Are you an expert packer?  Truth sometimes on vacation I pack a smidge too much…but Joe packs way more than me.  I know crazy right!

CHIME IN!!!  When is your next trip?  Are you an over packer?  How was your weekend?

9 thoughts on “Pack a week in a Carry On

  1. I have become an expert packer ever since last year! I bought a vacation package to run RnR Las Vegas last year and the airline was. An unknown airline to me and the luggage fees were astronomical (even for a carry on). I was determined to get everything I needed for 5 days in a personal item (and on. myself) . I layered most of my clothes on ( thank goodness it was November). When I got on the plane I took all my layers off and stuffed them into one of those drawstring backpacks ( ya know the ones we get at race expos) that I had folded up inside my pocket. I did a post about it somewhere on the blog too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I always start off with the best of intentions, determined to travel light. But FOMO simply won’t let me. Would you believe on my last trip (with anticipated 2 degree C weather) I even wanted to take along a summer dress? In the interest of saving space I left it behind but was kicking myself later when the weather unexpectedly rose to a blissful 18 degrees! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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