One of the questions Jordan and I are asked most often is how we pack for two weeks (or more) in just carry ons. In this post, I'll let you know what we bring, what we don't bring, and tips and tricks for doing the same!
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We don't really see packing in carry ons as a choice, because often times, once we get to our overall destination (like Europe), to get from place to place, we use budget airlines, and there are strict rules and fees on checked bags, the weight of checked bags, and then also on your carry on luggage. We also took one trip where we packed one big bag, and it was kind of a nightmare lugging it around everywhere, so we decided never to do that again. In this post, I'll outline for you exactly what we take with us, and what we don't, and how we get by with just a carry on for 2+ weeks of travel.
1. Only take the basics
Have you already got all of the clothes you want to take on your trip laid out? Put half of that back. Now put even more back in your closet. I promise it's worth it. We only bring the basics with us, which for us means plain v-necks, just because that's our style (and they look pretty ok in pictures!), a mix of gym shorts and nicer looking shorts (we usually travel in the summer or where it's warm), a pair of pants for visiting religious places, and two pairs of shoes (sneakers and sandals, like Clarks or Birkenstocks).
When I look over what I'm choosing to bring, everything needs to be:
Versatile (every shirt needs to be able to go with every pair of shorts)
Don't bring: anything that is slightly uncomfortable! If you ever even slightly think about putting it on when you are at home, you will definitely not want to put it on when you are halfway across the world, walking around all day in the hot sun (making some assumptions here, but you get it!).
For more details on what to bring, check out this great post on 11 essentials to pack in your carry on (hint: shampoo and conditioner bars!).
We also only pack for about half of the time we are traveling, which leads me to my next point.
2. Plan to do Laundry on your trip
We love AirBnB for a whole host of reasons, but for this post, I'll keep it focused on packing. We are very particular when choosing our AirBnB - we look for the exact location we want, WiFi (absolute must!), and especially in the middle of our trip, we must have a washer and dryer in our space. We try to get this in all of our lodging, but if we can have one smack-dab in the middle, we know we'll be good to go. See below for how to activate this feature.
Of course, if you're in a bind, need to do laundry and don't have a machine, "sink laundry" is also an option! Jordan and I have done this multiple times - just fill the sink with water and soap (does not have to be laundry detergent), scrub, scrub, scrub, and rinse a few times. Make sure you have enough time to let the articles of clothing fully dry, and be sure to think about humidity when doing so.
3. Pack like a pro
We have been using these incredible packing cubes to organize the inside of our luggage. I usually use them like so: the smaller the article of clothing, the smaller the cube it goes into. I usually keep the medium-large one empty in the bottom of my luggage and use that for my dirty clothes to keep them separate from my clean clothes. You also will want to pack a larger purse or backpack to carry with you on the plane. While I am talking about packing everything as a carry on, there is always a chance you will have to gate-check or actually check your bag, and there are certain things you never want to check.
4. What I bring in my Backpack, Otherwise known as Items I will never, ever check, no matter what:
One day's worth of clothes
I'll do a more in depth post about what exactly I can't live without on a plane, but in short, these are the things I have with me in my backpack, under the seat in front of me. Generally what I do is think about the things I would really miss, or literally couldn't live without, if a) I had to check my bag and then b) it was lost. Those are all the things I throw into my backpack, and then a few things for entertainment.
5. What about souvenirs?
Don't worry, I've got you covered on that, too. Jordan and I love to bring back some souvenirs wherever we go. We usually do some Christmas shopping, and we always, always buy some art to decorate our home. Remember when I said to keep taking things out of your luggage and put it back in your closet? This is another good reason why. On one of our trips, we ended up with a tagine from Marrakech. Not only was the tagine heavy, it was big, and had we stuffed our carry ons to the brim with clothes, there is no way we would have been able to carry this with us for the rest of the trip. All this is to say, prepare for your souvenirs!
Once you get used to packing in carry ons, I bet you will never want to go back. It's so much easier than lugging around heavy bags, especially if you travel like we do, and pack up and move every 3-4 days!