How To Pack For A Month In A Carry-On, Because I Did It & It's Not Impossible
I travel pretty frequently, and it's safe to say that I'm on a plane at least once every other week or so. But no matter how many times I go on the road, packing never seems to get easier. I always worry about having enough things for those "just in case" moments, but I think I've figured out the best hacks for fitting as many things in my carry-on as possible. I recently hit the road for a month-long trip between five different cities in four different climates, so I've rounded up my tips on how to pack for a month in a carry-on.
Yes, you read that right — I packed for a whole month in just a carry-on bag. Don't get me wrong: It was definitely a challenge and I was worried I would forget something. But so far, everything has worked out.
I was able to fit a ton of clothes, three pairs of shoes (booties, sneakers, and heels), a clothing steamer, hat, hair dryer and curling iron, and all of my toiletries into my suitcase. I think I actually have to pat myself on the back for this one, because I'm pretty amazed that it worked out the way it did.
If you're going to be on the road for a few weeks, or just need some general packing tips, read on for all of my go-to hacks.
1. Think In Layers
When you're traveling to different climates, the key is layers. Rather than packing a bunch of sweaters — they take up way too much space — back some tank tops, T-shirts, cardigans, and a jacket. You'll have your lighter layers for the warmer places, and you'll also have the option to layer up when you get to the colder places.
2. Bring Clothes That Are Versatile
One of the main reasons I overpack is because I bring a ton of unnecessary clothes for the "just in case" scenarios. I might go out one night, or I might need something a bit more formal, or I might actually try to hit a yoga class on the trip.
My main tip to make sure this doesn't happen is to bring clothes that are versatile. I like packing shirt dresses, because not only are they really light and easy to pack, but they can also be dressed up or down. I can even wear them in colder climates with a pair of tights and a sweater. Another fave are jumpsuits, because you only have to pack one piece and it's already a complete outfit.
3. Realize That You're Probably Going To Repeat Clothes
How often do you go on trips and realize that you packed a ton of clothes you didn't end up wearing? I've had to accept the fact that, just because I pack seven shirts for a week-long trip, I probably won't end up wearing all of them.
With this in mind, I decided to start packing less clothes with the purpose of repeating them. For this month-long trip, I packed three pairs of jeans, two shirt dresses, 10 shirts, and two sweaters, as well as leggings that I can wear as pants on cozier days.
4. Roll Your Clothes Tightly
Rolling your clothes to fit in your bag is an old trick, but it's worth mentioning. There's no way I would have been able to fit all of my clothes for this month's travels inside my carry-on had I not rolled them. Don't forget to roll them up tight to create more room for your clothes.
5. Downsize Your Toiletries In Both Size And Quantity
While it may seem obvious to put your big toiletries, like shampoo and conditioner, into smaller containers, consider lessening the number of products you bring with you as well.
When I travel, I condense my normally-extensive skincare routine into just a few steps. A cool hack I use is to pack a bunch of sheet masks. You can use them to pamper yourself on your nights off, and the leftover serum from the mask can be used as the base for your skincare. Plus, they're completely flat, so they're easy to pack and save a ton of space.
6. Try To Pack Things That Can Be Flattened
The things that always take up the most space are the ones that can't be squished in some way, so a helpful tip is to bring along things that are easily flattened. If I need a pair of booties with me on a trip, I'll always wear them to the airport so they don't have to be packed in the suitcase. Then, I'll pack the flatter shoes. I'll even take a look at all of my sneakers and pick out the ones that can be squished the most.
7. Play A Little Bit Of Tetris
Just because it seems like your things don't fit on your first go at packing, it doesn't mean that they won't. It takes some time, but you can take everything out and try to reconfigure the arrangement of your stuff.
It's all about finding the nooks and crannies to fit the random extra things that you weren't able to pack at first. (That's usually where things like a curling iron or pair of sunglasses can be nestled in.) Just remember how you packed everything on the way over, because you'll have to replicate it on the way back.
8. Separate Your Stuff Into Different Bags Or Pouches
I use those freebie makeup pouches to separate out all of my stuff: My electronic cables (i.e. chargers, headphones, etc.) have a pouch, all of my shower toiletries have a pouch, my jewelry has a pouch, and so on. It's a great way to keep yourself organized, and it's much easier to stack and arrange pouches than it is to try to arrange a bunch of random stuff.
9. Pack Makeup That's Multi-Use Or Compact
For us beauty lovers, it's no secret that makeup takes up a lot of room in your bag. Recently, my absolute favorite packing hack has been to get in the habit of using multi-use makeup products and ones that come in small packages.
Some of my faves include the NUDESTIX Matte All Over Face Colors, Glossier's Cloud Paints, and MAC's Face And Body Foundations in the travel size. The NUDESTIX and Glossier products can be used as eyeshadows, blushes, lip colors, and more, and the MAC foundation comes in a travel-friendly size.
10. Limit How Much Stuff You Bring
This sounds obvious, but you should definitely try to limit how many things you bring. If you're traveling to places you've never been before, chances are, you'll end up buying some souvenirs, and you'll need the extra room in your bag to bring them home.
A personal hack of mine is to pack in order of priority. I will always pack the things I absolutely need to have first, and anything that doesn't fit at the end doesn't go into the bag.