Pack a carry-on suitcase for a 10 day trip


It pays to travel light with just a single carry-on suitcase. Not only will you avoid paying excessive airline luggage fees, but you’ll get through airport security faster with a stealthily packed, slimmed-down carry-on suitcase. You’ll also save time by not waiting for checked luggage and you won’t risk losing a single bag. Yay!

funny dogs
I can fit…PLEASE don’t go without me!

I should know. After traveling through Germany, The Netherlands, and France for ten straight days with a single piece of 19″ carry-on luggage, I managed to escape paying a single luggage fee, and jaunted around major European cities care-free with a very light load to carry.

carry on luggage rules

How did I do it? With a little planning and a few frugal air travel packing tips you too can take flight without the extra cost and luggage weight.

Here’s how to pack a suitcase in ten simple steps:

1. Check the weather.

Living on the farm for the last few years, I’ve grown to appreciate the insanity farmers have for weather reports — Carl included. I call it ‘Weather P0rn’ ’cause the delight my man gets from barometric pressures, dew points, and capping inversions gives me cause for climatic disturbance.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you glue yourself to The Weather Channel (like Farmer Carl) before your business, holiday, weekend, or family trip. But being inclined to glance at a few weather forecasts will make it easier for you to pack for any kind of getaway. Check out or for meteorological updates at your destination.

I traveled to Europe in the fall, so I needed a good mix of warm and cold weather clothing. Yes, I packed it all in one carry-on suitcase.

2. Plan your destination events.

Visiting relatives, partying at swanky soirees, hiking up glaciers, or sunning your bum on the beach all require different attire. So pack only the clothing you need for your planned events — nothing extra! If you suddenly need a string bikini on a beach in Brazil then *cough* think twice about it, and buy it there.

My biggest events for Berlin, France, and Amsterdam included excursions to the Bodemuseum, Gemäldegalerie, Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and numerous national and war monuments. So basically I needed a pair of very comfortable shoes for viewing thousands of priceless paintings. I guesstimate I walked a minimum of 10km a day! Carl was thrilled. 🙂

3. Limit footwear, embrace double-duty items.

Ladies sure love to pack shoes. Get over yourself! You only need two, maybe three pairs: walking shoes, ballerina flats, and perhaps a pair of sandals. Those kitten heels sure look cute, but fashion footwear isn’t comfortable to walk in and takes up a lot of space.

What’s a double-duty item? Cardigans, pashimina scarves, a neutral trench coat — anything can be dressed UP or down. I wore my basic Banana Republic trench coat nearly every day on my trip and I fit right in with the fashionable locals in Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam.

4. Create a packing list.

I fully admit that I’m a list person. If you’re going away for ANY length of time I’d highly recommend you embrace the packing list — it will help you get organized and take inventory of the stuff you actually need.

packing list

Years ago I created this Printable Travel Checklist and Packing List for weary travelers.

Today I pack very little. Here’s my pared down packing list for Europe. Yeah, it looks like a lot but it all fits in one 19″ carry-on suitcase, minus the stuff I’d wear on the plane.


  • 2 pairs shoes (comfy walking, sturdy ballet flats)
  • 1 light nylon jacket
  • 1 beige trench coat
  • 3 pairs pants (blue jeans, nylon khakis, black slacks)
  • 1 skirt (knee-length, black)
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • 2 short sleeve shirts
  • 5 3/4 sleeve shirts
  • 2 cardigan sweaters
  • 1 thick sweater
  • 1 black dress
  • 2 tank tops, with built-in bras
  • 2 scarves (1 dressy, 1 wool buff)
  • 1 pair of PJs
  • 6 pairs underwear, 1 bra, 3 pairs socks
  • 1 pair black tights
  • 1 bathing suit, goggles, swim cap
  • 1 sling pack day bag

Toiletries, Odds and Ends:

Note: With the exception of my bathing suit, I used and wore EVERYTHING.

5. Pack neutral colors, light washable fabrics.

Pack a neutral color palette (brown, blue, gray, tan) to keep your wardrobe flexible and interchangeable. Opting for light and quick drying fabrics like merino wool and nylon over heavy cotton makes it easy to wash and wear your clothing quickly while keeping your suitcase light.

Peeking into my suitcase you’ll notice I’m a HUGE fan of Icebreaker merino wool clothing. These garments can be worn for days without any smell, plus they wash and dry quickly. Icebreaker is high quality stuff, and it ain’t cheap.

6. Pack outside your bag.

Dump your planned travel gear onto the floor and ruthlessly edit the nice to have items. Now do it again. And again.

how to pack a suitcase

Don’t pack directly into your suitcase — you’ll be tempted to cram in a few extra items and add volume. Seriously, you will.

7. Bundle, roll, shove, layer, tame.

I use a myriad of packing techniques to fit everything into my trusted carry-on. Here’s how to pack a suitcase in five easy steps:

Step One: Bundle.

The first step is to layer (or bundle) like garments together. Bundling can help reduce wrinkles while organizing all your similar clothing in an easy to access stack.

packing a suitcase

Step Two: Roll.

Roll each layered bundle into a tidy tube. Rolling a small bundle of clothing can save space in your suitcase and prevent your clothes from creasing. Because rolling doesn’t reduce the weight of your stuff, you’ll still need to be aware of how much junk you’re shoving in your trunk.

merino wool

icebreaker clothing

Since I wear a lot of merino wool and nylon fabrics, I never walk around wearing wrinkled clothing.

Step Three: Stuff.

Packing a second pair of shoes? Go ahead and stuff your socks, bras, and underwear into each foot bed. Shoes take up a lot of space, so be sure to use your soles and all surface areas. I like to stuff each shoe into a Ziploc bag to keep my suitcase clean and tidy.


Step Four: Layer.

Most carry-on suitcases have wheels and an extendable handle. While these are great features for hauling a$$ through big airports, they can make for uneven packing spaces. So embrace those awkward areas by layering your shoes and nesting your clothing rolls between these spots.


I always start by layering my shoes and pants into the bottom of my suitcase, between the handle slots.

carry on luggage

I then take each clothing roll and layer them between gaps and spaces.

But what about my dress, nylon jacket, PJs, wool buff, travel book, energy bars, laundry bags, and swim gear?

samsonite luggage

Easy. I roll my dress, jacket, and wool buff and shove them in any available space. I like to roll and layer my PJs on top with my travel book for easy access when I arrive at my destination at night. Laundry bags, energy bars, and swim gear go into the top flap of my suitcase.

air travel packing tips

Step Five: Tame toiletries, organize electronics.

After boarding eight flights in Europe, I’ve come to the conclusion that airport security sucks when you’re carrying too many liquids and a clutter of electronics. The solution is to carry only the liquid essentials and stick your electronic gadgets in an easy to view Ziploc bag. Both the liquids bag and electronics Ziploc were accessible in my sling pack purse for quick security checks.

airline luggage fees

To save maximum space, consider buying some of your toiletries at your destination.

luggage tags

If a flight was super strict about boarding with one bag, I still had plenty of room to stuff my sling purse into my carry-on.

8. Wash and wear.

Do a little laundry for five minutes each night in your hotel room bathroom sink. A dollop of shampoo can do wonders to clean socks, wash underwear, and launder shirts. Use your shower to hang your gear to dry overnight. If you’re staying with family or have access to machines, go ahead and use your laundry bags to keep things organized.

9. Invest in travel-sized bottles, brushes, towels.

Leave your full-sized shampoo and cream moisturizer at home. Do yourself (and airport security) a solid by investing in quality travel-sized reusable bottles that won’t leak. I love my super handy GoToob travel containers since they’re leak-proof, fun to use, and gorgeous.


Go ahead and downsize your hair brush, toothbrush, and makeup brushes too. This inexpensive travel makeup brush set was a huge space saver (and skin fixer) in airports and anywhere else I needed to powder my nose.

Most hotels in Europe offer towels to travelers. In Paris I was somewhat shocked (but mostly horrified) to find a single tiny towel hanging for both Carl’s and my use. Thank goodness for my microfiber travel towel — it got me dry fast without adding a lot of suitcase weight.

10. Wear your heaviest shoes, sweater, and jacket.

If you wear it on the plane, you won’t have to pack it in your suitcase.

swiss army luggage

My travel wear consisted of a trench coat (fashionable around the world), blue jeans, tank top (with shelf bra), thin wool shirt, light wool sweater, and a blue scarf. Summer travelers won’t need as many layers, but I was thankful for my clothing choices on long-haul flights and short jaunts. Some flights were freezing, others were hot stuff.

Your Turn: How do you pack your suitcase? What’s the biggest excess baggage fee you’ve been charged?


  1. A December 7, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Often (especially if we are going to see family or staying in one locating in the states) we ship stuff to the house/hotel. Any cost associated outweighs the hassle.

    Consider yourself lucky to be able to wear a tank with a built in bra & my husband’s shoes woould NEVER take up that little space…

    I travel with a small child, so one (2 or 3) carry on bag will not cut it. As a consequence, I try to only need to check 1 bag to minimize costs. That bag has the heavy, bulky, &/or wet stuff. My husband gets a carry-on bag (in the past it held diapers & such, I am hoping that next time when we fly to Vancouver in June that my son will be toilet trained.) I carry the electronics & other valuable items. My son gets 1 bag allowance as well – 2 books max, 1 toy that does not have multiple pieces, 1 stuffed toy, 1 blanket (though the blanket is usually under the plane in the big bag with clothes for 3).

    Snacks, adult books, etc. find their way into the mix…

  2. JMK December 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

    IMO, there are two types of luggage, carry on and lost.
    We took our kids to Europe for a month in the summer of 2008 when they were 7 and 14. Each of us took a standard carry on bag and we still took too much. My husband also took his computer bag as he was working for a few days in Munich, and his clothing had to include a jacket, shirts/ties/slacks/dress shoes for meetings. Twelve days of the trip were on a cruise so the rest of us also had to have a dressy outfit for the 2 formal dinners. We each took about one week of clothing (all mix and match) and we washed everything at the end of weeks 1,2,3 and arrived home in our last clean outfits at the end of week 4.
    We were on the cruise portion of the trip on days 7 and 14 so the first two laundry days happened in the ship’s laundry room. We were in Munich on day 21 and found a laundromat where you could drop off your clothes, go sightseeing for the day and pick them up later all folded.
    We follow similar rules: everything is rolled, everything must go with at least 3 other pieces, and everything in colours that can be washed together (no sorting!). When packing for a couple or family, don’t pack your toiletries individually. By that I mean, no you don’t take 4 types of shampoo for 4 people. Agree on one type and share. Same for sunscreen, toothpaste, floss etc. To stay within airline limits you may need to divide the pile of little bottles between two bags, but the fewer items you need to collect up every time you change hotels the better.
    I do have a question about your list above though. For a 10 day trip, why the need for 10 shirts, when many were merino and each could be worn for multiple days? I didn’t have any merino tops in 2008 but we each have several now so I anticipate we’ll need only 3 or maybe 2 carry on bags for the four of us when we head for Europe again in the summer of 2012.

  3. Kerry December 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

    @JMK You asked the question I feared the most — Why so many shirts? The answer lies in my armpits since I … ummm … sweat a lot. On a normal day I will sweat through three shirts by just sitting and typing. I’m talking serious sweat here, not light perspiration. I blame my father’s side of the family for this laundry-inducing gene. So yeah, while traveling, I’ll change my shirt several times in a single day just to stay dry. Merino is awesome. Blush. Sigh.

  4. teresa December 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Hi Kerry, I love your blog.

    I want to point out the ballerina flats pictured are also a double-duty item: the rubber comes off to reveal a leather slipper you can wear inside the hotel room. Kind of like galoshes of days of yore.

  5. Kerry December 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    @Teresa You’ve got a keen eye for dual purpose ballerina flats! Indeed, my flats are are two-in-one shoe made by Patagonia. Love them.

  6. Cindy December 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    My Christmas wish list includes one of these jackets by Scottevest
    Planning to travel to several cities across Canada for 1 week with my laptop bag, this jacket, & a down vest that will double as a pillow for the plane. My laptop bag will have space for my clothes.

  7. Caroline Hanna December 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Oh my gosh… that is incredible… probably the best packing I’ve ever seen! thanks for the tips… will be sure to use when I’m off to Palm Springs in 10 days…

  8. Credit Sesame December 8, 2011 at 8:34 am

    That dog is precious! Too bad that don’t provide tips like this on the airport and airline websites. (Of course, they’d likely lose out on extra baggage fees that way.)

  9. Eric December 8, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Awesome packing post!
    what about using a wicking-breathable fabric jersey as an under layer, instead of T shirts? Are you using cotton T’s? I’ve switched to wearing my mountain biking jerseys while sitting at the computer, doing video editing…Some of them have pockets, good for iPod, etc… and they wash easily & dry quickly!

  10. Sally Jane December 8, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Great ideas, Kerry! I travelled to Europe for six days with only my carry-on. Every cm. of space was utilized!

    Folks are gonna’ think that this is nuts but I’m sharing anyway. I did NOT want to fly undies home so I packed very old pairs and threw them out at each days’ end making room for a couple of souvenir clothing purchases. (Yeah, I know…)

    Also, my replaced knee triggers the security sensors EVERY time. I’ve never been asked at either a North American OR European airport but I have a physician’s note outlining my health condition, medications (that are always in their original containers), and my left TKA. Hope I never have to take extra measures to ‘prove’ my disability!

  11. Carrie - Careful Cents December 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I am hopping on a plane tomorrow to fly across the country and I already resorted to paying the extra check bag fee. But now since I’ve read your post I’m going to edit everything and try to pack it all inside a small carry on.

    I will be staying for 7 days at my location, but I think I can manage it. Plus since it costs $25 each way to check a bag, it’s well worth trying to save the $50.

    Thanks for the excellent tips. I will be using the checklist for sure!

  12. Kerry December 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    @Carrie With a little luggage editing I am CERTAIN you can save that $50. Besides, the feeling of NOT being bogged down by extra baggage is priceless. 😉

  13. Amber December 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I totally understand the sweating issue Kerry. Unfortunately, I have a reaction to pure wool so thinking merino is probably out for me 🙁 Anyone have other suggestions?

    I have the most trouble with my feet and have found copper-bottom socks at Marks Work Wearhouse that are AWESOME. They come in white and black, short and long and I have some of each.

    I am going to use as many of these tips as I can for my trip home at Christmas – taking a 16 hour train journey north with hopefully one medium suitcase and a computer backpack. Where I get off there is no train station, not even a waiting area, so wearing my heavier clothes will definitely work!

  14. Patricia Caradonna December 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t fly alot so I don’t incur baggage fees, but I am flying tomorrow to Puerto Rico and then taking a cruise. What I try to do when I travel is wear old socks or underwear so that way after you wear them once while on vacation (maybe while exercising) you can then throw them in the trash rather then taking them home. I also take just enough toothpaste, shampoo, and deoderant for my vacation. I throw the containers away on the last day so I am not lugging all those items home with me.

  15. Jennifer December 10, 2011 at 10:04 am

    My husband and I love packing in carry-on only. We’ve done two 3-week trips to Japan using only carry-on luggage and it works out great. My husband has also fallen in love with quick-drying clothes and travel wear in general and is lucky that he can incorporate them into his regular work wardrobe. Now almost all his shopping is at stores like MEC or REI.

    One of the things I always ask myself when deciding what to pack is “what would I do if this item were lost/stolen/broken?” If it would be easily replaceable at our destination, then I reconsider bringing it along and consider purchasing while we are there instead. It also helps to know your destination a bit too. We take an annual trip to Seattle and stay in the same hotel each time. I know they supply each room with shampoo, conditioner & soap so I never bother to bring these along on our trip.

    Since we now have a baby we’re wondering if we’ll be able to continue packing so light each time. But we’re sure going to try!

  16. Toolbox 12/12/2011 « The Radical Journey December 12, 2011 at 4:37 am

    […] Fun: How to Pack a Suitcase. Believe it or not, this is extremely helpful. […]

  17. Zoe December 12, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Wow, so cool packing to save and safe in the same time 🙂 Thank you for your idea sharing.

  18. Cat December 12, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Wow – that’s some very impressive packing! I avoided my first excess baggage fee this year by just doing the carry on. Mind you, they still made me gate check it (and then busted the handle..grrr) since there wasn’t enough room on the plane.

  19. […] 10 Simple Steps: How to pack a suitcase — Make this your packing mantra: bundle, roll, shove, layer, tame. [Squawkfox] […]

  20. Patricia McRae December 12, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Hi Kerry and thaks for all the good tips. I would add that we bustier women take an extra bra. It’s hard enough to size a bra in the US let alone Europe. I’d also recommend a small sewing repair kit.
    Again good job!

  21. […] Get the 101 on packing a suitcase. Squawkfox dishes on the details that make everything fit into that one carry-on. (Cute puppy […]

  22. Shauna December 12, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I do one more thing. I pack my carry on within a another bag and then have an extra for laundry while travelling, and then anything that comes home. I’ve traveled for up to 2 weeks with 2 children this way. It’s totally possible, and takes tons of stress out of the equation.

  23. Jen December 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    That’s a great list, thanks! Any chance that you can do a post about putting together a frugal yet fashionable basic wardrobe? I need a total wardrobe overhaul after being in maternity clothes the past few years. I think you would be able to offer some great tips on basics that do double-duty for work/home/outings/etc.

  24. Mia December 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    That is highly impressive! I was glad to see that we share the clothing-rolling technique. I always wondered if other people did that. I’m only in high school, but I have been on +- 50 flights…No wedge heels for me. In terms of my list, I always pack double-duty shirts too. Being a teenager, tank tops are acceptable wear, so I’ll use it as a beach top one day and wear it under a thin shirt the next. Also, I quickly realized that make up is not a necessity – just cover up. Less liquids! One time it does not pay to travel light is when you have to take your whole life with you. Immigration = luggage. Fact. Still, we’re just talking two full size suitcases here. It’s amazing how compact things can be if they have to! Glad to see such practical and detailed suggestions!

  25. […] Kerry from Squawkfox shares tips on how to pack for a long trip and still fit into a small bag. […]

  26. Natalie December 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    If you’re travelling with kids you may need to take a car seat and you can put your car seat in a car seat bag that lo and behold offers lots of extra space and they don’t charge you for taking a car seat. In fact, they won’t even charge you for the car seat if you don’t have a kid! Last trip I took, I borrowed my friends car seat bag and filled it with the curtain fabric I bought and wasn’t charged for the extra bag! Tee Hee.

  27. karen December 17, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I pay the extra fee of $25 for an extra bag, take medical supplies like latex gloves, childrens’ vitamins, children’s eyedrops, bandages etc with me on my travels. I usually travel to countries that may need these items. Find a medical clinic and donate. All clothes, shoes, scarves etc are given to the locals that I have meet. Voila! No return luggage other than your purse, passport and airport reading!

  28. Joan December 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

    When travelling on a tour, which I do frequently, one is often packing and repacking almost daily.
    I have found that extra large ziplock freezer bags come in handy. I can fit a top or two and a lightweight skirt in one. It doesn’t get wrinkled with the constant moving about of the
    other stuff. I also use the bags for underwear, one for used and one for clean. If you push down on the bag you can create a vacuum pack. Less room again. I started travelling years ago with a 29″ bag. I am now down to 24″
    which I have taken to Australia and South Africa. I still had room for purchases.

  29. Lynn December 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Where did you buy your patagonia 2 in 1 flats? I looked on line but having trouble finding them.
    Thanks, Lynn

  30. Ann December 31, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Jennifer, My husband & I traveled with our 2 babies, my son turned 1 on the trip and my daughter was 2 1/2, in Europe with 2 bags that were carry-on for 3 months backpacker style. Each baby had 3 outfits, my husband & I had 2 each. So one outfit on, the others in the bag. we shared one bag & the other was for the babies and their diapers. We kept my daughter in diapers for the trip because I thought it would be easier than locating toilets for her if we tried toilet training. We had fleece jackets/rain jackets/swimsuits and maybe something to sleep. We were in the mountains & at the beach. It worked well. You can do it, just be open. the babies did not need much and their clothes take up little space. Good luck & enjoy!

  31. Stephen January 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I love this list. Will be super helpful for when I finally start travelling around. Also helpful to be male so I don’t really NEED a billion changes of clothing. My comfy shoes are a pair of Black DC sneakers, they can mirror as fancy shoes (they are currently work shoes at a semi-fancy hotel and nobody has given me heck over it). Plus I wear lots of lightweight clothing like T-Shirts (doesn’t matter the weather)

  32. Selka January 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Oh, you know all my tricks and a few more! I’ve always considered light packing essential for my exciting hobby of travel by hitchhiking. Every ounce counts when it’s on your back.
    The fine balance between carrying as little as possible yet having all that you need is an art and an essential skill. Thank you.
    These principles also transfer to bike touring, and probably other sports.

  33. Melanie January 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    My mom always packs this way and I never believed it worked. I’m terrible when I have to travel for business and can totally fill a carry-on even for an overnight trip!

    At my new job, I’ve had to travel more than I have in the past and I’m already tired of packing/unpacking just to pack again! So I’ve decided to keep my carry-on packed by picking outfits that travel well (read no ironing!) and when I get home, they get washed and put back into the suitcase. Sure it may take a few pieces out of circulation but hey we all have too much clothing anyway right! I wonder if any of my business associates will notice I always wear the same things! LOL, of course I can mix it up with different coloured scarves or jewelery.

    I also limit my make-up and toiletries to one small clear travel bag so I can just pull it out to go through security. The two things I have the most trouble with are my hot air brush which I use to straighten my hair and shoes, for some reason I always feel the need to bring more than one pair. I usually wear dress boots and bring shoes that will work with casual wear.

  34. […] her brilliant money saving tips for frugal living; from making your very own frappacino to packing your carry-on suitcase for a two-week trip to Europe, (which not only saves you money but also the potential loss of your […]

  35. jjl2357 March 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve always had a natural knack for traveling light (the fact that my suitcase is “bigger on the inside than the outside” doesn’t hurt either). A while ago I went for a trip with a couple of friends, and pretty much all of them were surprised that not only did I not have to go through checked luggage, I still had room to fit my backpack inside when the airport people turned strict about the one item rule..

  36. Paul March 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Did your husband Carl prepare a male-version of your pared down packing list?

  37. Kerry March 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Paul, That’s a great idea. Carl thinks so too. I’ll have him re-create his carry-on for ‘The Guys’.

  38. Darcey April 29, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Also pay attention to what you can get locally. A lot of tourists who come here to India think “OMG I can get a pair of cheap shoes made!” or “I’ll just get a salwar suit”, but don’t realise that it can take you longer than 24 hours — *and* that the tailors will often charge absurd amounts. If you’ll be somewhere for 10 days, or even 3-4, you can likely find a readymade outfit; for people like me (on the busty side), I don’t fit in readymades… but asking some of the hotel staff where they get *their* suits done, and budgeting a day or two can knock several hundred rupees off. I pay under Rs600 for my suits unless it’s for partywear, and my tailoring comes down to under Rs150 for each suit – which means I’m paying about $15 for a full outfit, custom made to match my sizes, if I’m willing to shop and wait 48 hours.

  39. Iain June 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    My 2 trips to England (2010 and 2011) helped clean out my closet of older clothes. The first 3 days of each trip, I dumped the older clothes and quickly my bag opened up for purchases.

  40. Taraz June 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I<3 microfiber towels!

  41. Dee August 29, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I have had the opportunity to do some limited travel through Europe and have one possible item to add to your list. While travelling, I discovered that sometimes the women’s bathrooms can be, shall we say, less than ideal (maybe just a hole in the floor). I saw this little item online and thought it might be beneficial if I ever get to go there again. It’s called a “Go Girl”, and is a small female urination device. I have never tried it, so I can’t vouch for how effective it is. Even so, I thought I’d throw it out there in case someone is interested.

  42. maxmelia maurice September 1, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Just plain smart, thanks.

  43. Susan September 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Kerri,

    I’m 67 and will be travelling next year with my husband to Ireland, Scotland and England for our 50th wedding anniversary. I’d like to get the Patagonia 2/1 ballet shoes too. Where can they be found? This is a terrific article-we’re not travel literate so found this information priceless.
    thanks, Susan

  44. Kerry September 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Susan, Sadly, Patagonia doesn’t make that ballet shoe anymore. The shoe company Keen Footwear ( makes a comparable travel shoe — minus the cool 2/1 feature — called the Paradise Ballerina. Hope this helps. 🙂

  45. Cindy September 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I”m going on my first cruis next July, with my Husband and my two children, could you please give information how to pack for all four of us for 7 days. Thanks

  46. Elizabeth September 24, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I absolutely love your site! Thank goodness I’ve found it. Since Hurricane Katrina hit our area, my family members have moved to different parts of the U.S. I find myself travelling a LOT and find it really gruelling be packing/unpacking/repacking all the time. I bring too much and it’s all so heavy. Now with your advice I’m sure I can reduce my suitcase contents and pack easier. Thank you!!! Now I’m off to shop for some of those great travel aids you suggested. 🙂 Happy travelling!

  47. judie panneton October 30, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I love your ideas and even when I have to check a bag, I always carry my good shoes thanks to a hard-learned lesson when luggage was lost in Hawaii at Christmas time. Shoes are as important as medicine and it’s hard to find good replacements on islands at decent prices.

    Thanks for this great site!

  48. Lee November 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I spent 5 weeks travelling in Scotland with only a backpack suitcase. One pair of Tilly Endurables pants, one pair of Tilly Endurables shorts, rain jacket (Scotland after all), one sweater, and four tee shirts, one extra large to sleep in, and two pairs of socks and two pairs of Tilly undies and one bra. All I needed for a month. I bought toilettries in country and left them behind when I left.
    I now travel across Canada for work, for court attendances of up to a week. One black skirt, one grey skirt, one black dress pant and three white dress shirts and one black dress jacket, one pair jeans and a large tee to sleep in. Undies and bra, one pair dress shoes and I wear runners. All fits in my carry on.

  49. Mike December 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Good job! I traveled extensively for my business years ago, still do but not like I used to, where I would find myself on 5+ flights a week.

    Early in my career I checked luggage, and soon realized as one other person above said, “checked luggage..also known as lost luggage” is a fact of the airline industry.

    Cargo is just that CARGO, and you would be in shock to know what actually goes on. On some premium routes such as P.R. they will PURPOSELY leave your luggage off to put priority paying cargo onboard!

    In any event I quickly learned to NEVER EVER EVER EVER check a bag.

    In fact I have a few times tussled with the flight crew who wanted to “stow” ie. LOOSE my carry on when all the overheads were “full”. OVER MY DEAD BODY! and I would go from overhead to overhead and find one where I can personally readjust the luggage that was not placed efficiently and stow mine, sometimes to the objections of the ignorant passenger.

    Trust me the overheads are NEVER EVER TRULY full, its just that most people are either obnoxious or inexperienced passengers that placed their luggage incorrectly.

    Hey when you purchase your ticket, your paying for your rightful piece of real estate above your head which is intended for those seats below…..stand up for your rights and don’t send your luggage to the twilight zone where it will be gleefully auctioned off to hoarders!

  50. Diva Mom January 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I spent 5 weeks backpacking in Europe with my family of four each with a convertible backpack(straps hid away to look like a suitcase) about the same size as yours. We went Carry-on all the way. Even with the limited packing space, we all found there were many things we brought that we wouldnt bother bringing next time. The one thing we wouldn’t go anywhere without, were our sarongs, which were used as-beach blanket,sun shade,scarf,pashmina,pillow,wrap dress,skirt,tablecloth.
    My next trip in June, I plan of packing smaller and love your idea of rolling everything up.

  51. Heather Hopkins February 20, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I’ve been traveling every 6-8 weeks in Europe for three years and still haven’t figured out how to pack my bags! Thanks so much for this packing tutorial. Will be sure to give it a try on my next trip.

  52. Jenni March 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Another thing to consider: most hotels provide you with shampoo/conditioner/lotion/soap. It varies from place to place, but a quick check of their website will usually tell you what they provide, and what brand it is. One hotel I stayed at even provided my brand of toothpaste! So a quick check can keep you from having to worry about packing your own items and/or stressing that the bottles will leak.

  53. Lisa Taylor March 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    You can always buy items at your destination. -Toiletries especially.

    On a trip to Melbourne last year I brought new shoes (they were on sale, buy two pairs get them 1/2 price) so I went “halves” with another friend who had also found one pair she liked. We went halves and got the two pairs of shoes. (Still managed to get the deal even though we paid 1/2 each).

    A 10 day trip only needs 5 outfits – you can easily mix and match.

    For the women find bras which are sports bras… they pack smaller. I wear Ah Bras daily now and they’ve got no wires and hooks (no metal detector set offs! yay!) and they’re comfy!

    7 day trip to Melbourne, had a backpack of gear (smaller than the bag in the article) and maybe 4 outfits. Three pairs of shoes in there (including the pair I brought there), laptops and other gear. We managed to be allowed to carry a laptop bag each plus our backpacks. 🙂

    Having a backpack rather than a travel luggage case makes you blend in as soon as you’ve left the airport terminal too! Nothing like showing you’re a tourist by how you’re dressed and what luggage you’re carrying/ dragging along behind you!

  54. Cath May 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Well, it’s only tangentially about packing, but you should try Certain Dri antiperspirant. My husband is a huge sweat-er, like get home from sitting in church and shirt and undershirt are soaked. I MADE him use it, and after two days he can’t stop raving about how he isn’t sweating AT ALL.

  55. Palash Karia June 25, 2013 at 7:51 am

    “Kerry MARCH 11TH, 2012
    Paul, That’s a great idea. Carl thinks so too. I’ll have him re-create his carry-on for ‘The Guys’.”

    Any luck with that?

  56. Diva Mom July 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I just got back from a 25 day trip to Iceland, Holland and Greece and have to tell you that I Rolled up Everything into a 21 inch carryon and it was Fab!! Even though I had to pack for 3 different climates (really cold, really wet and really hot)I had tons of space for everything and I am so glad I listened to you about rolling things. Way more compact, far fewer wrinkles and so much more organized! My pack weighed 10 kilo and was easy peasy to carry. My cousin’s bag weighed 25 kilos , was the size of a Bus and so much trouble for her to manouver. Thank you So Much for your Great Idea!!

  57. Lynda July 29, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I am planning a week-long cruise with my carry-on size suitcase and my messenger bag. The cruise line I use always offers an “all you can stuff” laundry special mid-cruise for $25 which is just the amount to check one bag one-way!! I am planning 4 slacks with mix/match tops, 2 shorts, pj’s, bathing suit, cover-up, sandals & flip-flops, undies, etc. I have used inside shoes for a LONG time to stuff little things in. I also have 2 nice rectangular American Outfitter “cubes” which are great for segregating all the t-shirts and all the undies and pjs. You have great tips and I plan on using them all. On my last long trip one thing I did to make room for souvenirs on the way back was to throw my used underwear away every day. Some of them needed to go, so I thought – why not!

  58. Mia December 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Just bought a 100% Merino Wool top at Costco for 20$. Much cheaper than Icebreaker.

  59. Sami Thomas December 20, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Why do you need to take an iPod Touch and a camera?
    Love your information

  60. Alyssa December 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    My mom found this online and forwarded it to me and I LOVE it! I have always been a rather efficient packer – I went to Dubai for a professional women’s conference in a carry-on – but I have sort of a dilemma. In a few weeks, I will be leaving to study abroad in Hungary for six months, and unfortunately I need a few more things while there, such as bedding and other necessities. Although the airline I am taking does allow me one free checked bag, I was wondering if you had any tips to maximize that space as well?? Currently, we have suitcases that act as nesting dolls, and I am planning on packing a carry-on size suitcase inside my regular suitcase so that I have the extra space to come back with for souvenirs and other things. Any other tips?

  61. Jessica January 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    This is great. I went to Australia for 18 days and only took 2 bags. And that was back before iknee how to One idea I’ve found to be very useful when you are taking children (ihave 2both under 4) is buy the diapers and wipes when you get there pack onlyenough diapers and wipes for the trip there plus 4. It saves a ton of space especially when your staying a while and you will be able to use what you buy. I also like vac bags if I’m staying with family or friends. They won’t cut your weight but they will help with space.

  62. Angela @ Best Carry On Luggage Finder January 29, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Packing light was and is the most useful travel skill I have ever learned! I feel like I get better at it with every trip, and now I can comfortably pack for almost any trip in a single bag. Thanks for these useful tips!!

  63. Shawna May 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I’m converted! This is the best method of packing I’ve seen. I packed for a two week trip with enough clothes for one week and found laundry detergent when I arrived so I could do a little every night in the hotel sink. Foolproof! I would advise taking laundry packets with you to Japan because it was more difficult to find the right detergent there than I expected (and I read some Japanese). Nanox brand packets are a good solution, though.

  64. Chris September 26, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    After a few lost bags, when traveling we pack one outfit (underwear, pant, shirt or dress) in a zip lock bag and trade with travel companion so someone is caring your cloths in case you end up waiting for luggage to catch up. Yes even carry on has come up missing!

  65. AJ March 17, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Does anyone know of a good brand of sleepwear for those who sweat when they sleep? I hate having to pack three pajamas and I am fine with washing them in the sink. The problem is I need a breathable fabric, but cotton takes forever to dry.

  66. Katrina June 19, 2015 at 3:09 am

    Great list!
    Can I ask how much this all weighed when packed and how much the bag weighed on its own empty if you know?


  67. Kathy August 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I travel a lot for work (with no access to a vehicle) and the problem is that In hotel rooms, yes, I can do my laundry, but it always seems like it is still damp when I need to put it on. (Especially waistbands on panites, pants or skirts). I seem to perspire too much to wear my clothes again without laundering.

    If I take the allotted travel size shampoo and conditioner, I always run out before the week is up. Buying more usually means I have to buy containers that are too large to bring back as carry on and I have to leave it behind. A big waste of money and not environmentally responsible.

  68. Jorome August 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Kerry, love your list. How would you suggest I modify this if I were staying in hostels as oppose to hotels, or would you?
    Also do you have any recommended iphone wireless battery chargers?

  69. Nicola April 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

    @kathy: use your travel shampoo for your head ONLY and use the hotel shampoo or body wash bottles for washing your clothes.
    When they run out they get replaced each morning so always a new stash waiting for your sweaty tops !
    Throw the shampoo and top in the bath/ sink…go out for dinner and when you come back rinse and roll in a towel to get rid of excess water ( stand on it ) and peg it up on some nylon ribbon you have threaded around the room.
    The pegs mean your waist bands will probably be able to dry. If you lay things over the ribbon they will be double folded and take forever to dry, you peg by the bottom of the top/ skirt, should dry over night.
    You only need about 6 pegs in your wash bag, and about 5 mets of ribbon which takes up no space or weight and saves a checked bag!
    You will,only wash a top, some knickers ( use pantry liners ….ESP on the plane..) and the odd socks, so not like it’s jeans and three sweaters every evening.

    Re travel tips.

    In NZ/ Australia Your carry on bag can only be 7 kg/ 15 lbs so I use a large tote as my ‘ purse ‘ place clothes in a vacuum bag and suck the air out of that so 4 kgs of clothes can fit in my tote which doesn’t get weighed. Next to that sealed bag I have my passport / wallet/ phone / tiny wash bag with earphones. Wipes, iPod, eye mask etc and a change of clothes for the plane ( yoga pants, thermal socks, soft t shirt and scarf ) I wear a coat on, and boots/ top/ jumper etc but change once on board or in the loo at the gate , boots go with yoga pants !
    The boots get taken off on the plane and go into the over head above and the tote under the seat in front so my feet are raised. More comfortable.
    The clothes are Nicer to sleep in and you can change back once you land or just before.
    Our flights are always 3-28 hours from NZ
    The tote bag is well used !!

    I use my 7 kg carry on for clothes, shoes, ( ballet flats, sketchers , flip flops ) toiletries/ make up , ( get a rolled up wash bag with a hook. Keep in your hand till past security and then put into your bag. It won’t be part of the ‘ weighing’ then, saves 500grams ! Or hook it onto your tote till pass security and the inspection of your 100ml bottles, just open it and leave it in the tray. They can see it all ) night shirt or whatever doesn’t fit in the vacuum bag. I roll everything.

    The vacuum bag the clothes I stack. Clothes aren’t rolled, But it’s really stacked !!! It shrinks down to nothing with a Dyson vacuum suck!

    Once you get to the destination the vacuum bag is so thin it can usually now fit into the carry on ( if you have an extension carry on) and you take your cross over bag out the carry on and place wallet / passport etc in to that. You can’t have the cross over and a tote, you can only have one on show ( unless you put the cross over under your coat!)
    Your tote is now nearly empty bar your yoga pants and t shirt And coat if it’s too warm to wear, (your boots went up into the over head on board And you just used thermal socks, to sleep in .. bar going to the loo when you put shower caps / bags over them and then threw them away! That’s not water on the floor in the toilet …and your boots went back on till you get to your hotel) there is just no room to pack them.
    If you aren’t going somewhere cold/ in winter then leave the boots at home .
    Use sketchers etc
    Riding boots to walk in are comfortable…I’ve heard.
    You can also wear skirts with boots, more than sneakers you look French !

    There are ways and means to get around 7 kgs!!

    In America….everyone should be travelling carry on as you have no weight limits !!!!!! Soooo lucky !!

  70. Nancy June 19, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Just a quick comment on buying items at your destination. Remember to check on local holidays. We traveled to Belize and arrived on Good Friday. Every store was closed for Easter Weekend…including Easter Monday. We tried to find some hair conditioner and had to finally to to a fancy hotel that had a gift shop and spend an outrageous amount for a simple toiletry item.

  71. Teresa Guerra July 14, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I take a black sarong with me on my travels and a second one in a light color. You can use a sarong for:scarf,blanket,skirt,sheet,tie it up and make a pursue,cover up for your swimsuit…endless possibilities!

  72. Claudia Gauthier August 17, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Thank you for more great tips! May I offer some of my own: I have solved the problem of running out of shampoo and conditioner by using solid products from Lush and the Naples Soap Company. Leakproof and long lasting. I also travel with daily contact lenses and all my makeup is sample size. My home merchants and service providers have been very generous in offering sample products as well. During an extended stay in Europe a few years back I did run out of eye makeup remover. A stop at a discount pharmacy for mineral oil solved my dilemma and it was easy to leave behind before flying home. Had I purchased my department store brand I would not have parted with it so easily.

  73. Vivian March September 10, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I am inspired. Leaving in 7 days for a 10 day trip to New England. I am going to publicly declare my intent to do this…….. It will be a FIRST! I did have to chuckle about stuffing the bra in the shoes – THAT is not possible for us big chested women. But, I will try your suggestions. Later……

Leave A Comment