Travel, especially for those adventurous enough to do it solo, is really much more enjoyable when you have ease of movement. This is particularly important when you are not being collected at the airport or chauffeured about from place to place on your trip. Nothing annoys me more on my travels than having to navigate a country while lugging around a huge suitcase. Which is why, on my trips that don’t involve me moving somewhere, I travel carry-on style. I have been known to travel for up to two weeks, stopping in multiple countries or multiple cities, and have done so with nothing but my handbag and a small carry-on. I know it seems quite rough to pack two weeks’ worth of outfits into one small bag but trust me it is quite possible if you adopt a minimalist approach. It really made getting from hotels to the airport such a breeze while hopping trains, trams and buses, and I was able to spend so much less on flights since I could fly with low cost airlines and not have to pay for check-on luggage. As I am female, this post will explore tips that are more specific to ladies, but men can feel free to extrapolate from a lot of the points. So here are a few tips on how to make your trips lighter by packing just your carry-on bag.
You need fewer clothes than you think.
- Plan your outfits ahead of time– This is probably one of the most important steps to making this plan work. Planning your outfits before heading off on your big trip will actually prevent over-packing, so you won’t end up bringing 5 tops and a ballgown you will never wear.
- Try to pack clothes that are lightweight– This is easier to do if your destination has a tropical climate. You can actually pack enough tank tops, shorts, skirts and summer dresses to never repeat on the whole trip. However, if you are travelling during winter, the key is to wear your heaviest items on the flight. On my flights in Europe I have been known to layer tops and sweaters under my coat as well as leggings under my jeans. Sure you look a little lumpy and round in-flight but, it’s the pictures of you at the destination that count ;-).
- Focus on neutral colours– Packing blacks, greys, browns and mostly solid coloured items of clothing makes it so much easier to mix and match pieces. This allows you to pack less, especially as it concerns jeans which can be repeated without much notice and don’t get soiled easily.
- Use accessories to switch up your look– When you pack with a minimalist approach, accessories will be your best friends. They really allow you to add some fashionable flair to your neutral pieces without taking up much space in your bag. Try to use belts, scarves, hats and jewelry to look fabulous and photo ready on your trip.
- Bring multipurpose items– Packing less means taking items that serve multiple purposes, such as a dress that can also be layered and worn as a skirt. One example for me would be my sandals; I have a few stylish leather ones that I can wear with both casual and semi-formal outfits.
- Bring a large tote/handbag/backpack– If you are looking to travel with just your carry-on its important that your personal bag be large enough to accommodate some of your load. This especially goes for items that you need to be easily accessible while en route, such as your travel documents, camera, money, phone and accessories. You can also slip a few of your must-carry items of clothing, such as underwear, into your personal bag to save on space in your carry on.
- Pack neatly and strategically– If you throw all your clothes randomly into your carry-on it is quite likely that you will end up taking much less than you could have if you took the time to pack strategically. I find that clothes of flexible material such as cotton take up less space if you roll them tightly into the shape of a small log. As for bulkier items, like jeans, it really saves on space if you fold them once across and then lay them flush against the bottom of your bag. If you fold bulky items too many times or roll them, they gain a lot of height which will end up meaning less space for your other items. Also don’t be afraid to stuff some items into your shoes; this is really another great space saver.
Leave unnecessary items behind.
- Ditch the big makeup kit– Ladies, you really don’t need to bring your entire makeup arsenal when going on vacation. This is really a time for relaxing and being more casual than normal, so a simple makeup routine is all that is needed. Pack a small pouch with your favourite bb cream, 2 eyeliners, 2 lip stains, a small eye shadow palette with some neutral colours, makeup removal wipes and two makeup brushes (one large for buffing, one small for detailed application). You can definitely multipurpose some of your makeup items; for example, your brown eye shadow can double as a bronzer for your face, eyeliners can double as lip liners and makeup wipes can double as brush cleaners. This is of course for those who simply must have their makeup wherever they go. For those like myself who don’t regularly wear makeup, some lip gloss and moisturizer is all you need and you’re set.
- Don’t pack items you can easily buy at a local drugstore– If you are traveling and your accommodations don’t provide items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries, consider buying these when you get to your destination. This will definitely lessen your load and leave more space for other things you might need. A quick stop at a local drugstore should allow you to purchase these items in small amounts, just enough for your trip.
- Wear simple, cute and protective hairstyles- This really makes a world of difference since it means not having to bring a flat iron, curling iron or blow dryer etc. You really want to concentrate on all the fun there is to be had, so not having to worry about what to do with your hair while on vacation is a huge plus. I have locs so it’s like I already have a built in protective style that keeps really well. But for those who don’t have locs, I suggest braids, stylish cornrows or your favourite sew in. If those aren’t your style then a high ponytail or high top bun are really cute hairstyles which are perfectly casual and resort chic.
- You only need two pairs of shoes- I can already hear you ladies screaming “hell no!”, but trust me when I say you really don’t need more than two pairs. Remember the aim is to travel as lightly as possible; this is vacation after all. I promise you no one will care that you repeated your shoes on your trip; let your clothes and accessories do the talking. The trick is to bring two pairs of shoes that can easily match the different outfits you’ve packed. Both pairs should be comfortable for walking but still cute enough to go with all your different looks.
- Avoid clothes that wrinkle- It’s vacation, you and your clothes should both be relaxed. If it requires an iron, don’t pack it!
- You don’t need your laptop- The aim is to disconnect. If it can’t be done from your phone, get it done before you leave. It’s relaxation time so leave all work behind.