Those of you who know me know that I’m all about cramming as much as possible into my trips. Life is short and vacation time is hard to come by, so if you have the opportunity to go somewhere, why not try to experience as much as possible? I am all for squeezing in a ton of things to do in a variety of different cities, even if they’re not close together, because I am able to sleep in transit fairly easily whether via planes, trains or automobiles (…or boats). Do lots, eat lots, see lots, take power naps in between!
One of the struggles of this sort of travel, though, is packing. Nobody wants to drag around a heavy suitcase while going to a bunch of places in a short amount of time! You might get stuck lugging your bags around until your hotel/hostel/Airbnb is ready—plus, there’s a chance you might be going around cities with lots of stairs and no elevators.
And don’t get me started on checking in luggage for flights! As more and more domestic U.S. airlines or European budget airlines start charging for check-ins, it just makes carry-ons seem like an even better idea. Also, there’s a nice reassurance of knowing the airline won’t lose your luggage, or that you’ll make your connecting flight if you’re switching airlines and hopping from country to country and don’t have to go through customs to pick up your checked bags. We’ve definitely had a few times where the magic of carry-ons helped us catch our connections after a delayed flight!
So now that I’ve sung the praises of carry-on luggage, how does one go about packing for a trip? Sure, a weekender is easy enough to bring a backpack on, but what if you’re spending two full weeks traveling without having time to wash clothing?
I recently went on my honeymoon consisting of two countries, 12 cities, eight flights, three layovers and six ferries and only brought a carry-on, so it is definitely possible! Here are some tips for packing light on your long trips:
1) Mix & Match
I feel like this is a tip plenty of bloggers share, but it really is helpful! With a variety of shorts/skirts/pants, it feels like you have a different outfit every day even though you’re reusing key parts. One of my favorite honeymoon pieces was a 2-piece dress from Lulus that I was able to wear three ways: as a dress, as a skirt or as a top.
2) Limit the Heels
As a short girl who loves a little lengthening, this one is hard for me. Still, you save SO much room in your suitcase if you limit yourself to a pair of sandals, sneakers and MAYBE some tiny wedges.
3) Bring a Shawl
Shawls are such a great and versatile thing, because you can wear it as a cover-up when you attend a more conservative area if you need to hide your shoulders, use it as a scarf, or just have it to keep warm on summer evenings that get a tiny bit chilly. Our honeymoon was during late May/early June, so the one shawl and one cardigan was enough to keep me warm.
4) Limit the Books
This might be a little controversial—I know my husband loves bringing novels, guidebooks and language pamphlets whenever we travel, but my preference is always to research and print out a sheet of paper with a few key words/phrases, or screenshot maps on my cell phone that I can reference. There’s always the risk that your phone will delete items or that you won’t find an outlet to charge your devices, so this is up to your discretion!
5) Bring Sample-Size Toiletries
If I want to bring a fragrance, I’ll often pack teeny tiny samples I’ve stashed away from Sephora or other cosmetic stores. I also save face wash or lotion samples I get from the Korean store I frequent for my skin care supplies, and bring tiny packets along on my trips. I’ll also save hotel toiletries from previous trips (e.g. shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste) and bring them on my next trip!
6) Get Creative with Containers
If you don’t have sample/travel-sized items to bring with you, portion them yourself! One thing I always do is take a contact lens case and empty my liquid foundation into it. This also works for lotion and other liquids, and helps as a space-saver and way to stay below the liquid limit for carry-ons (3.4 ounces/100ml).
7) Bring a Rolling Carry-On + Backpack
…Or shoulder bag, satchel, tote—really anything that can function as your “small personal item.” I would also recommend bringing an extra tote/drawstring bag in your carry-on that doesn’t take up much space, but which you can use for overflow if you need to check in your bag on the leg home due to acquired items (*ahem* souvenirs and new clothes!). Bring a suitcase that’s also expandable, but still meets the carry-on size requirements (this will vary depending on airline and carriage size—research your planes ahead of time!).
8) Wear Your Heavy Items
If there’s a trench coat, boots or a flowing maxi dress that you REALLY want to bring but it doesn’t quite fit in your carry-on, consider wearing it. Yes, it might be annoying—but even weighing the idea can help you figure out whether that item is worth bringing!
So there you have it! Hope these tips are a little bit helpful for your own packing, and if you’re curious about #whatsinmybag, check out my Instagram for photos of what I pack for my trips!