packing light in a carry-on

goodness, i am late on running this post!  i started it back in march, so 6 months ago!  sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging and i have just t=had to learn to be ok with that.  but for those of you who were waiting for this post, my apologies!

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back in april, sean and i got away for a big work sponsored trip to greece, france, italy and monaco.  here’s a post where i shared how i packed light for a 2 week trip.

but how did i get all of that into one carry-on suitcase?!  creative packing and packing cubes.  my mom got sean and i these packing cubes from ikea a couple years ago and they are so efficient (here’s another option).   stacking folded clothes and zipping them up really packs everything in so tight.  i’ve tried several techniques, from rolling my clothes to laying everything flat, but this works best.

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i try to pack like with like, so the dresses were stacked together, sweaters together, bottoms together.  if there was still room in a section, i’d all thinner items, like camisoles or scarves.

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2 dresses, 2 sweaters, 2 pants, 1 pair of shorts, 2 camisoles, and a scarf all fit into this cube.

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this cube held most of my tops, but also pajamas and workout clothes.

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this cube held ankle boots, sandals, and all the socks and undies.  a couple pairs of shoes didn’t fit in the bag, so they were tucked into the suitcase separately.

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after filling 4 cubes (the small 4th one held bras), this is what i had to fit into my suitcase:  4 cubes, 2 jackets (i added the lightweight patagonia jacket in the black cube last minute – totally unnecessary in the end), 2 pairs of shoes, an umbrella, jewelry bag, curling iron, power adaptors, and a hat.

the hat and my toiletry bag were carried on with me in my oversized purse.  i also only ended up bringing one of the smaller travel purses (why did i think 2 was a good idea, ever?) and its nice and flat so it tucked easily inside my large purse.

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my suitcase is nothing special.  actually, it belongs to one of my daughters!  it is expandable, which is a nice feature if i end up needing more room.  i packed the larger cubes first, filling up some of the off space between the suitcase support in the bottom with small items like the power adaptors and curling iron.

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next were the shoes and smaller cubes.  this left some unused space but i filled it with the next layer.

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i added the jackets last to fill in those gaps.  obviously, this is way above the suitcase edge, but its amazing how it can all condense when the lid is flipped over and zipped up!

now, time for full disclosure:

my bag was overweight.  like very overweight.  but in all the airports we traveled to, only one or 2 weighed our bags, which we have never experienced before with international travel for carry on bags.  the bag technically fit in US standards for size, but not weight.  and each country has different size standards, almost all of which are much smaller than US standards.

our main reasons for traveling with carry-ons: 1) no waiting for check luggage.  2) we were traveling to a greek town with no streets, only walkways, so we’d have to carry all of our luggage a decent distance to and from our car.  3) we have lost luggage several times during international travel and it stinks!

i didn’t mind my clothes getting wrinkled or creased because each place we were staying at had an iron and board, and really, no matter how you pack, wrinkles are inevitable.

also, i could’ve packed even less!  there were a few things i never wore at all.

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if you were counting items, you may have noticed a few missing.  i also wore some of the items on the plane, including my bulkiest sweater, which helped free up valuable space.  i also always travel with a scarf in my bag, for when it gets chilly, if its culturally more appropriate to be more covered up, and to cover my face if i encounter “smells”, which can happen when you travel in tight spaces!

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Comments

  1. 1
    Jennifer Lewis says:

    I love this post – thank you!! I love stealing ideas from your outfits :-)

  2. 2

    Perfect timing! I am packing this weekend for a 10 day trip.

  3. 3
    grammy goodwill says:

    When I’ve traveled overseas, the tours have us in different hotels every few days. Do you unpack the cubes or simply take out what is on top? (Some nights I’m so tired when we get back to our room that I couldn’t face repacking those cubes.)

    • 4

      great question! if we are staying more than a couple days, i will unpack them. otherwise, i might pack them more according to outfits rather than by type.

  4. 5

    I’ve been wondering how you accomplished this for international travel!! Especially how you were able to bring all the shoes. You have some serious packing skills!!

  5. 6
    RubberChickenGirl says:

    How do you carry your jewelry and how do you minimize your cosmetic bag like that? I always end up with way more cosmetic bag stuff and tangled necklaces. I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but I *have* to have eye drops, clippers, tweezers, a razor, the list goes on, or I will end up on an errand to the store.

  6. 7

    How do you pack you toiletries when you are not allowed fluids on the plane shampoo/conditioner moisturiser/sunscreen/insect repellent

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