Packing in a Carry On Suitcase

March 20, 2016

Recently, one of my readers had asked me to do a blog post on packing for vacation in a carry on suitcase.  It just so happens that I've been wanting to do a post on this for a while, but I just haven't gotten around to writing it.  Since it's spring break time, I figured many people will be trying to escape the last few weeks of the cold and head to a warm and tropical destination.  Unfortunately, with a new baby, my next tropical and relaxing vacation is far in my future.  But that's okay, I can still dream about it and help others figure out what to pack...right?

When traveling by air, your best bet to save a little bit of money is to just bring a carry on suitcase instead of paying to check a bag.  On most airlines, you are aloud 1 carry on bag and 1 personal item free of charge (unless you're traveling on one of the super discounted airlines).  This means that packing is going to take some time and planning.  I tend to over pack when I travel, but when I plan out my outfits ahead of time, it makes it easier for me to keep my packing light.
Here is an example of what I might pack in my carry on if I were going on a week long family vacation in a warm climate. 
2 pairs of leggings 
1 pair of shorts
4 sundresses
1 maxi dress
4-6 tank tops (at least 3 solid neutral colors and 1-2 pattern tanks) 
2 dressier tops
2 cardigan sweaters (1 light and 1 dark) 
1 jean jacket or blazer
3-4 pairs of shoes (1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of flats that are comfortable for walking, if there's room and you think you'll wear them a pair of wedged sandals and then 1 pair of flip flops for the pool or beach.) 
3-4 colorful statement necklaces
1 sun hat
2-3 bathing suits (I like to mix and match my tops and bottoms to make more options for myself.)
2 beach cover ups

Sounds like a lot, right?  Actually it's not.  A carry on suitcase can fit a lot in it, especially when you're packing summer clothes. 

 Here are a few example outfits that I would wear.

Travel Day
For me, when I travel, I like to be comfortable and cute.  I also like to wear some of my bulkier clothes that don't pack as well in my suitcase.  This is why I might pick leggings, and a tank top, with a jean jacket or blazer and a pair of flats.  
Jean jacket/striped tank top/leggings/flats/ pearl necklace 

Pool/ Beach Day
For pool/ beach days, I love to stay in my beach wear all day.  There is nothing better than smelling like sun screen and sea salt.  It's important to bring a cute bathing suit that you feel comfortable in. (The bathing suit below is a pre-baby bathing suit, so I'd probably go with a different suit this year.)  I like to wear a long maxi dress as my cover up dress with some flip flops and sun hat.
2 piece bathing suit/maxi dress/flip flops/ hat

Site Seeing Days
It's always fun to get out and explore the area.  For these days you will probably want to be comfortable and casual.  Shorts or leggings are great for these days with a tank top.  Casual sundresses are a comfortable outfit option as well.  I always like to bring a sweater along or jean jacket.  You never know when you'll feel cold.  Comfortable shoes are key here if you plan on doing a lot of walking.  I'm not big on tennis shoes, so I prefer to wear sandals or flats.  Whatever you will feel the most comfortable in. 

Shorts/grey tank top/sandals/statement necklace

 Blue sundress/sandals/sun hat/pearl necklace 

Navy striped tank top/shorts/sandals/sun hat/pearl necklace 

Jean jacket/tunic tank top/leggings/flats/turquoise necklace

Casual Evenings 
When you're on vacation with your family, most of your dinners out will be casual, but that doesn't mean that you can't dress up a bit.  I like to take a casual day outfit and dress it up a little more with some extra accessory such as a colorful statement necklace and some wedge sandals. 
Jean jacket/black dress/turquoise necklace/wedge sandals 

Maxi dress/sweater/green statement necklace/sandals 

My best advice for packing in a carry on, is to stick to the basics that you can mix and match easily throughout your trip.  Be sure to pack some colorful accessories to add a pop of color to your outfits.   It's nice to travel light, but make sure that you don't forget any of your favorite items from your closet.

I know I feel ready to pack my suitcase.  Now all I need to do is book a vacation :)

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  1. A great post, thank you for your time in putting this together, despite a new baby in the house. You're putting the rest of us to shame! Lol


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