Carry On…Packing That Is (Part One)

Packing Using Only a Carry-On Bag – What To Pack?

Do you love going on vacation getaways?  Of course you do! What about packing for your trips?  Not so much, right?

I recently had the pleasure of going on a week-long trip to Japan with my husband Nick (more on that in a future post!).  As I planned out what I would pack, it took me back to a time when traveling was a regular part of my life.

I once had a job that kept me on the road quite often.  There were times when I would be away for two weeks at a time traveling both domestically and internationally.

Packing for these trips, of course, was a part of my regular routine. My very first business trip was to Barcelona, Spain. I was so concerned about forgetting something that I packed like I was moving there permanently! I filled up my large and medium luggage bags with too much of everything. I continued to pack like this for many other trips.

I look back on it now and wonder what in the world I was thinking! Most of the time, I didn’t use even half of what I packed.

Then there was the waiting to retrieve my bags at the airport baggage claim and discovering them not being there when I got off my flight.  It didn’t happen often, but when it did, it only added to the stress I was feeling (which already included working around the clock with minimal rest). The airline would graciously deliver my bags to the hotel within the next 24 hours…but still.

These experiences encouraged me to improve my packing skills to the point where I can now fit everything that I need into a 22-inch carry-on luggage bag!

In order to not make this post too long, I am splitting this topic into two posts. In Part One (this post), I will go over what to pack.  In Part Two, I will break down and illustrate how I fit everything into the bag.

  1. Before packing, consider the following details:
    • The weather. Will it be very hot, cold and somewhere in between?
    • Travel destination.  Are you going to the beach resort, a big tourist city, a picturesque countryside town or a sea cruise?
    • Activities that you will be doing during your stay. Take time to think about what you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis.  Will you doing a lot of walking, swimming, formal dinners or nightclubbing?
  2. Clothing. Start with a neutral color theme for your basic wardrobe items (dress, pants, shoes) and build your wardrobe around them. Select a neutral color of your liking (black, white, off-white, navy).  From there, add some colorful wardrobe pieces to mix and match with your main color of choice.
  3. Shoes.  I recommend no more than four pairs of shoes.  Ladies, I promise, you do not need to pack as many you believe!!  For my recent trip, I successfully packed five pairs of shoes. This included a pair of flip flops, dressy flat sandals, slingback flats, oxfords and a pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers. I also had a pair of Nike cross trainers which I wore during all of my flights, so that actually a total of six pairs.  Guess what?  I ended up wearing only three of the six pairs! While there, I spent a good amount of time walking, visiting nightclubs, and eating at restaurants.  I wore my Nikes, flip flops or my comfy Oxfords…everything else stayed in my suitcase.  If you are packing high-heeled shoes, in my opinion two pairs should be enough but if you feel that you need more, I suggest wearing a pair of heels on your flight, (you can take them off while in flight).   I’ve seen ladies doing this quite often.
  4. Undergarments – In this instance, I always pack more than I may need, especially panties. I pack ten pairs of panties and 3-4 bras.
  5. Jewelry – I appreciate good, quality jewelry, but do I bring any with me when I travel? Never! Why not?  I would be too worried about losing it or having it “disappear” while traveling.  I stick with costume jewelry that I can easily pack in a small zip lock bag.
  6. Toiletries – As mentioned before, I used to pack full-sized items when traveling.  This is totally unnecessary!  Travel-sized toiletries (and ziplock bags) are your best friend.   Better yet, you can pack your own in empty, refillable 3-oz bottles/containers that are available for purchase.  NOTE:  Container sizes for liquids, gels, creams, pastes and aerosols are limited 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.
  7. Makeup –  Normally, I keep my makeup in my handbag while traveling but will share what I bring.  It’s so easy to throw a bunch of random makeup into a makeup bag, but a selection your favorites will do. Again, I stick with neutral colors. If you prefer otherwise, by all means, do what works for you! I pack no more than two lipsticks (a neutral and a reddish pink), two lip pencils, a neutral eye shadow palette, one blush, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, a compact powder foundation and a bb cream that I use as a concealer.

That covers Part One!  Stay tuned for Part Two, where I will provide tips and pics on how to get everything into that carry-on bag of yours!

As always, thank you for visiting An Eclectic Lady!

Warm regards,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *