All my life I have been an overpacker because I want clothing options and I don’t want to be without them. I have always regretted the decision to carry such a heavy bag with a lot of clothing that it does not wear out. Last year I decided to change my packaging style. I decided to set a personal goal of packing for two weeks in a carry-on and a backpack.
In fact, I made it happen and promised to always travel with this light. After spending two weeks in Cuba and Tulum, I didn’t want to risk my bags not showing up, or having to wait hours for my bags, as these were the stories my friends shared about their experience in Cuba. Soon after, I made a pact with myself to continue this “less is more” motto on another trip to Croatia, where I spent several weeks on a boat.
Tips on how to pack for two weeks in carry-on luggage:
Plan and Prepare Ahead
Practice closing the suitcase while packing to make sure it can be closed. Pack days before departure, so you can reassess and evaluate your options and see what you can eliminate each day that you can live without.
Clothes and shoes
Limit your footwear options. Wear your sneakers on the plane. Pack flip flops, maybe a pair of fancy sandals or flats, and another pair of nice shoes or fancier walking shoes (if necessary). Use plastic bags to wrap the sneakers (which can also be used later for dirty flip flops) so your clothes don’t get ruined.
- Wear your sneakers, hat, and warm jacket or hoodie on the plane to leave more room in your backpack
- Since I have room behind my suitcase zippered mesh bag (where most people keep underwear), I keep all my soft items against the case, like sports bras, underwear, and bikinis.
- Bring clothes that you can wear more than once, like a beachwear that can be turned into a skirt or a casual dress.
- Turn one-piece swimsuits into sexy evening tops by donning a loose sarong or skirt.
- Pack no more than two pairs of jeans and no more than 3 pairs of shorts.
- Bring enough socks and underwear, especially if you plan to walk every day or walk. They do not take up much space. You can always wash clothes in a sink to dry.
- Roll clothes into tubes or fold clothes into thin, flat squares. Using extra packaging elements to compartmentalize into cubes or tubes has never worked for me, it just takes up more space than I need.
- Don’t bring pajamas. Sleep naked. If you are staying in a hotel or on a cruise ship, you can relax in the luxurious bathrobe.
- Dispose of old underwear and T-shirts while traveling.
- Use plastic bags around clothes that you don’t want to get dirty, especially a pretty outfit or two. Plastic bags can be used later to collect seashells or used in an emergency.
Pack toiletries in a Ziplock bag or toiletry bag that is not in a hard container so you can squish the items between your shoes or clothing. Put your favorite skin scrub in a contact lens case and be sure to pack only small bottles of beauty supplies. Throw them away when you’re done. Bring a toothbrush that you don’t mind throwing away and be sure to bring a small travel kit with plasters and Neosporin for emergencies, especially in countries where a CVS cannot be found.
Backpack or handbag
Bring a backpack on the plane for anything that doesn’t fit in your suitcase that you have to take out while you fly, like books, headphones and travel essentials like my new favorite: Saje Wellness (Relax) oils to help you sleep. Their ball sticks come in many natural blends (and even at a pocket pharmacy) to help with stress relief, pain relief, and more symptoms that can materialize while traveling on an airplane or in a foreign country.
In your backpack, pack a coat, shawl, hoodie, or jacket that can be worn throughout the trip. I like to pack a soft black shawl that can look good at night with a dress or can be thrown over a T-shirt on the plane to keep you warm. Keep space for snacks at the top of your bag.
If you can find space, bring a collapsible tote bag that can be squashed to bring gifts that may not fit in your backpack.
What are your favorite travel tips for packing less luggage?