For my recent trip abroad, I challenged myself to see if I could pack for nearly two weeks in one carry-on and one personal item (aka my huge beach bag purse). I’ve never tried anything like this before for such an extended period of time. I have successfully done a week here or a 9 days there, but never 12 full days. Ultimately, I packed 27 pieces (not including socks, pajamas, unmentionables, and jewelry), and I was able to get 13+ outfits out of those 27 pieces. I believe the key is packing neutral, versatile, and comfortable pieces and adding in color with accessories.
The method to packing here is to lay each piece both within the suitcase and outside of it, leaving a little hanging over the edge. Alternate each of the four sides with each piece, creating a “+” with all your clothes. Then, when you are done, begin folding one garment at a time to the center. This will create an envelope-style packing method and prevent wrinkles. You’ll get more in this way!
Here’s what I packed in my carry-on (with corresponding links where available):
- 2 pairs of black leggings (Forever 21)
- 1 pair of khaki corduroy skinnies (Old Navy)
- 1 pair of dark skinny jeans (GAP)
- 1 black pencil skirt (Express) — note: I never wore this the whole time!
- Short sleeve linen tunic (from a street market in London circa 2008)
- Black turtleneck (Target)
- Red turtleneck (Target)
- Long sleeve white tee (Old Navy)
- Long sleeve black tee (Old Navy)
- Long sleeve grey tee (Old Navy)
- Breton 3/4 sleeve shirt (French Connection close match here or here)
- Cream crepe blouse (Forever 21 close match here)
- Oatmeal cardigan (local boutique)
- Black fitted tunic dress (BCBG)
- Black & White striped tunic (Amazon/SheInside)
- LBD with peplum (Versona) — note: I never wore this the whole time!
- LBD strappy (Daily Look)
- 1 White bra tank (Victoria’s Secret)
- 1 grey tank (Old Navy)
- 1 white V-neck tank (Target)
- 1 white tee (GAP)
- Plaid blanket scarf (SheInside)
- Red/Camel/Black Plaid scarf (no clue where it’s from)
- Camel scarf (TJ Maxx)
3 Pairs of Boots/Booties
- Black and Tan riding boots (Ralph Lauren updated style here)
- Brown riding boots (Arturo Chiang exact boots here)
- Black ankle booties (Macy’s close match here)
- Black leather motorcycle jacket (Belk not sure on brand, close match here)
- Khaki fitted casual jacket (GAP)
4 pairs of socks:
- Cream knee socks (Daily Look)
- 3 pairs of regular socks
Truth be told, I actually packed just enough, but not quite the right pieces for the weather changes. I never wore the skirt or the Versona black dress. Granted, I could have worn the black dress, but I picked up this blue number from Zara in Paris. I also picked up the purple wrap sweater/jacket on a side street in Montmartre. That purple wrap sweater came in handy as it was very cold for most of the trip. However, at the end of the trip, it became very hot, and we purchased some t-shirts from Zara to get us through the heat.
So, here are all the outfits I was able to put together. Forgive some of the photos as we were running ourselves ragged for 10 days straight seeing wineries, meeting with winemakers, touring caves, etc.
Day 1 (Paris): Linen tunic over long sleeve white tee, black leggings, black boots, motorcycle jacket, plaid blanket scarf
Night 1: Black Turtleneck under BCBG tunic dress, black boots, black leggings
Day 2 (Paris): Black turtleneck, jeans, black boots, motorcycle jacket, camel scarf
Day 3 (Paris): Black/White stripe tunic over white bra top tank, black leggings, brown boots, motorcycle jacket, plaid blanket scarf
Night 3: Same as above, but add purple sweater wrap and changed scarf to camel scarf + earrings
Day 4 (Paris to Reims): Black long sleeve tee, khaki cords, black boots, purple wrap, black/red/tan scarf
Day 5 (Conference in Champagne): strappy black dress, black leggings, cream knee socks, oatmeal cardigan, brown boots + necklace
Day 6 (Conference in Champagne): jeans, Breton shirt, casual khaki jacket, black booties
Day 7 (Conference Touring in Champagne): jeans, cream blouse over V-neck white tank, motorcycle jacket, black booties, gingham headband
Day 8 (Conference Touring in Champagne): BCBG tunic dress over long sleeved black tee, black leggings, cream knee socks, black boots, purple wrap, plaid blanket scarf
Day 9 (Conference Touring in Champagne): red turtleneck, khaki cords, black boots, red/black/tan scarf
Day 10 (Conference Touring in Champagne & back to Paris): linen tunic over white bra top tank, black leggings, black boots, red/black/tan scarf
Day 11 (Pre Zara) (Paris): jeans, grey long sleeve tee, black boots, motorcycle jacket
Day 11 (Post Zara) (Paris): Zara striped tee, jeans, black booties
Night 11: Zara dress, black booties
Truth be told, I could’ve done a lot better. I should’ve eliminated the black skirt and LBD from Versona, and added in a few more casual t-shirts. Also, hindsight being 20/20, I really really wish I had packed a pair of flats in addition to the boots and booties. Overall, I think I did pretty well considering the challenge. Have you ever packed for a long vacation in a single carry-on? If so, how did you do it?
I hope this gives you some, if any, insight for packing on your next long vacation! It was nice to only have two bags to handle when on the Metro, trains, and in the airport — not to mention the lack of worry with a checked bag making it to the destination!