Travel: How To Pack a Carry-On

When it comes to packing, I have to say that I’ve developed my own Marie Kondo-esque system.  I used to be that girl who had to take a massive suitcase with her anytime she got on a plane.  Whenever I returned home, I realized I didn’t use or wear HALF of what I had taken with me.  Who can relate?

Now I’m the girl who can go on a 4-5 day trip with carry-on.  Easily.  It wasn’t easy to get there and I’ll preface this entire post by saying this technique is not for everyone and takes getting used to because it means planning and committing.  I often get asked “well what if you’re not in the mood of wearing what you planned for that day?” Well, that may be the case but I’m definitely not in the mood of paying upwards of $40 to check a bag each way of my flight.




People will laugh when I say this but I pack twice for a trip.  1st pack – I throw a bunch of stuff in an open suitcase that I think I might want to bring or might need.  No restrictions, no holds barred.  2nd Pack – consolidate and make a plan for what I actually need for each day of my trip.  Small bags and soft boxes are also super helpful for keeping things organized when packing.  I like having one for electronic items and one for accessories.  I also make sure to pack one empty bag for laundry.

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This is probably the most complex part of my packing method and the one that people have most trouble with because it requires committing to an outfit.  After my 1st pack of throwing a bunch of things at my suitcase, I take a look at what my trip’s itinerary is and start planning outfits.  I basically pack a day outfit and night outfit for every day of my trip.  My travel outfit is always the same on the way there and on the way back.  My upcoming trip to Cuba is going to be super easy because we’re basically doing the same thing every day.  So, I need a beach day outfit and a night dinner outfit for 4 days.  I also play “fashion show” once I’ve selected all my outfits to make sure I like how they look.  This minimizes my “mood” coming into play.  Once I’ve put everything in my suitcase I’ll gauge whether or not I have room for an option or two just to have in case.  But only if I have the room.


I plan shoes according to outfits and try to minimize how many I bring by making sure one or two pairs of shoes can work with multiple outfits. At most I will bring 3 pairs of shoes on a trip of any given length.

Accessories & Jewlerry

I don’t actually wear a ton of jewelry so this ends up being very minimal for me.  I’ll take the things I wear on a daily basis and maybe a few extras for night outfits.   If I am carrying on then I use a backpack or a duffel bag as my “personal item”.  This way I can pack a small purse that I might need during the trip within that.

An example of what my clothing packing trip for Cuba will look like:

Day 1: 
Travel: Black Tights, Black tank, Black Hoodie, white sneakers
Day: Black Bikini, jeans shorts, white shirt, black flip flops
Night: Navy Maxi Dress, low black block heels

Day 2:
Day:  Burgundy bathing suit, black cover-up, black shorts, black flip-flops
Night:  Short black Zara dress, low black block heels

You can see that I’m making the same pair of shoes work for my day outfits and night outfits to minimize how many I bring.


Essentials and Toilitries

I have an excel list on my computer of travel essentials.  These are the things I will need on any trip no matter what length of time.  It includes things like toiletries, chargers, clothing basics and obvious items like my passport and wallet.  This makes it easy when I’m shopping to figure out what I need in travel size form and what I already have.  Packing is also a breeze because I just run down the list and pack it.

When it comes to toiletries, everything I take is travel size.  This is usually where the carry-on vs check-in argument gets tough because some people are VERY loyal to certain brands and/or products that just don’t come in travel size.  However, you can buy some really awesome travel kits that have empty bottles and jars so I can take my favourite products if they don’t come in travel size.

Like I said, this method isn’t for everyone but so far its worked wonders for me and saved me time and money.

Do you guys have any tips or tricks for packing?

Till next time, happy travels!

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