Lifestyle, Travel

How To Travel Anywhere With Only A Carry-On

How To Travel Anywhere With Only A Carry-On

Gone are the travel days when I stumbled around the airport with two large suitcases and a carry on in tow. I remember vividly the very last time I traveled heavy. It was an absolute nightmare. I went to New York then to Toronto to visit a friend. There was a little shopping (ok maybe more than a little) and I managed to stuff two overweight large suitcases and a carry on.

Being a solo traveler, I had to maneuver all these bags through the airport, alone. Customs wanted to see everything at every point and so I had to unzip and repack each bag. The carry on’s pulling handle broke, so I had to lift it and one of the checked bags burst open when the taxi driver took it from the car to my doorway. Suffice to say, I left these bags untouched for weeks as a result of my absolute trauma! Never again! Travel shouldn’t be so hard!

Since then, I have traveled with only a carry on. There’s no lost luggage, no waiting to collect, no excess searching at customs and most importantly, no load. We went to France for our honeymoon and we both traveled with only a carry on and a personal item each. These bags included a wedding dress, his suit, our wedding shoes, a bridal bouquet and everything else we needed four our 10 day trip. This was also in early spring, so we had clothes that had some body to them. Here’s how to do it.

Plan ahead

  • Be mindful of your airlines baggage regulations and stick to that. My carry on was a little bigger than usual so I got a lot of raised eyebrows and twisted mouths before they let me through.
  • Use a bag that you are comfortable with. One of our bags was a duffel and even though lightweight, it was a task to lift and carry around everywhere. We vouch to use only wheeled bags from now on out.
  • Make a list of everything you need. My lists are split into electronics, clothes and shoes, toiletries, miscellaneous items and important documents(passport, immunization cards etc).
  • Plan outfits and not pieces. This was my main problem in the past. This time, I packed items that would match with each other. I’m a neutral kinda girl, so that was easy for me.

Pack right

  • Roll, don’t fold. This saves space and eases up on wrinkling. You can squeeze more items in if needed this way.
  • Wear your bulky pieces on the flight. We had light jackets, jeans and heavier shoes, which we wore on the flight. These take up a lot of space and makes the bag heavier.
  • Pack very little toiletries. We went with travel sized toothpaste and I transferred my skin lotion, hair products and skincare items to travel sized bottles. Only because I wasn’t sure I’d get them over there. Things like shampoo and body-wash, we either bought at our destination or we used the hotels’.
  • Keep important documents and electronics in your personal item if you can. It always feel more secure and easier to access when on the plane.
  • Whatever you don’t need, don’t bring. Bulky cameras, laptops, books, etc. I always make the mistake of walking with books because I’m sure I’m going to read. I never do. If you can, walk with your tablet or e-reader.
  • Pack for one week, regardless of how long you’re staying. This may sound absurd but if you pack right, and your clothes match, you’d be fine. You can almost always find a laundry service. To be safe, walk with or purchase laundry detergent and you’d be fine.

Be a minimalist

  • Carry multipurpose items (I used a scarf as a head-wrap and vice versa). Ease up on the accessories, the makeup and the ‘just in case’ items. You hardly ever need it and if you do, you can almost always get it (or something similar) where you’re going.

And there you have it. Less wait times, less worry and less expense. What better way to start and end your trip?


Are you a minimal packer? What tips do you have?

Thanks for stopping by!

  Comments: 25

25 responses to “How To Travel Anywhere With Only A Carry-On”

  1. Helene says:

    These are really good tips! I’m not at all a light traveler, and I always end up bringing a bunch of stuff that I end up not needing at all. So these are really good tips to keep in mind!

  2. James Smith says:

    I never take a check-in bag if I can avoid it. It’s so much easier and I’m the first to the taxis on the other side.

  3. Patricia says:

    Great tips! I am not a light traveler though but may use some of your tips to make my carry-on and luggage lighter the next time I travel.

  4. Chloe says:

    Ooo thanks so much for all of these tips! I’m always into saving a lot of space! I had no idea about rolling up clothes. Definitely trying these tips out when we plan another trip! 🙂

    xo, Chloe //

  5. I pretty much always only pack a carry on. I hate waiting for bags and the fear of the airline losing my luggage. Plus, my mom taught me the roll method a long time ago and that has made a lot of difference in getting more stuff in a suitcase!

  6. Ashley says:

    This is great information. I’ve been working remotely and traveling more lately; it’s always nice to have a reminder that I don’t need to take everything that I own with me. haha

  7. “Roll don’t fold” for sure! However!!!! I’m amazed that you were able to travel with your wedding clothes! You are a rock star! Thanks for all the good tips – I try to minimize a bit more on each trip 🙂

  8. Lauren says:

    Oh no! That New York trip sounds like a nightmare. I always try to remember that I am not constantly changing clothes at home, so why would I be doing that on vacation?

  9. I only pack one bag, but haven’t gotten in down to carry on size, yet. These are great tips to do so!

  10. Ondari says:

    Great information.

    On planning I prefer just one pack to avoid confusion while packing.

  11. All much needed carry-on necessities for sure!

  12. Aubrie says:

    I already do many of these things but it hadn’t occurred to me yet that I could just pack for one week and reuse clothes as I go! Ha…great article and great advice 🙂

  13. Tom says:

    The fact you both travelled with your wedding outfits and clothes for the trip in just a carry on is amazing. I’d be contacting the carry on brand looking for sponsorship!!

  14. LJ says:

    I try! I’m the worst over packer ever!

  15. lol, your experience sounds like mine. Ireland for two weeks. We had to lug 5 cases/bags into every room that we stayed. It was a nightmare! Never again. Minimalist packing for me:)

  16. I just took a backpacking trip in May 2017 and actually did a lot of these recommendations! I packed for my 16 days trip in a backpack, 1 week’s worth of clothing and minimal on everything.
    You really don’t need very much! and we LOVED saving time at the airport by not having to check and collect extra baggage!

  17. courtney says:

    Great tips! I will be traveling next week and will try and use some of your suggestions!

  18. Thank you for this post. I’m a recovering heavy traveler. 🙂 Recently I’ve tried to be more economical in my approach to packing to save time and headaches as you have. But I admit to being a novice. If I’m only traveling for four days or so, I can manage just fine. It’s when my trip gets longer that I feel like I need to take more. But I love your suggestions and am going to save them for later. Thanks for sharing!!

  19. ebony phillips says:

    Great tips…not sure if I’ll ever be able to accomplish this without u standing over me with a belt lol…it’s always so much easier to be disorganized and pack tons of clothes i will never wear on my trip( speaking from experience) i really need to keep this in mind for next time because i too may end up looking like a total clumsywumsy at the airport like you lol…that experience sounds so funny.

    Thanks Mrs. LSRH

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