How To Travel Using Just A Carry-on

My husband and I love to travel and one thing we’ve learned over the years is that when it comes to luggage, less is definitely more.

This past summer he surprised me with a trip to Paris and we spent one glorious week enjoying all the city had to offer. The neat part? We did it with just our carry-ons. Did I think this was possible? Nope. I mean I had at least a million photo ideas spinning around in my head and all of them required different outfits. Was I able to do it? You bet!

How’d I do it? Easy. I planned out the details using my travel planner which helped me get the whole trip into perspective. I’m such a visual person and I need to see things laid out. Then I knew what we planned to do, where we planned on visiting, and ultimately what I needed to wear and bring with us.


So here’s my tips on how to pack light using just a carry-on… and don’t forget to snag my free downloadable outfit planner and packing list at the bottom of the post.

Check the weather

Wherever you are going, have an idea of the upcoming forecast so you know what clothes to bring and what clothes to leave home. If the forecast is calling for cooler weather than you anticipated, be sure to pack a sweater or lightweight jacket and swap out the warmer weather outfits.

Wear your heaviest items

Taking a jacket, coat, or clunky shoes? Wear these items rather than pack them. Jackets and coats take up so much room and let’s face it, there’s not much room in a carry on to start with so you will need all the space you have. Clunky or heaving shoes add unnecessary weight and remember that most airlines have weight restrictions on carry-ons so be wary.

Plan your outfits

Take a little time and plan out what you will wear each day. I love to write down my outfits in my travel planner so I know exactly what I’m wearing and when. This not only saves time, but makes it so much easier when dressing if you already know what you’re wearing. Plan out everything from your head to your feet.. including hats, scarves, jewelry, top, bottom, socks and shoes.

Packing Clothes

Pack clothes that can mix and match easily and stick with colors that can be interchanged to make more outfits. Try to take lightweight items that can be layered if needed. Since we were in Paris in summer when the weather was beautifully warm, it was easy to pack light clothes and since they were so small when rolled up, I was able to take more than enough

Roll your clothes in your suitcase

I don’t care what anyone says, nothing saves space better than rolling up your clothes. You can fit way more stuff by rolling everything like it’s a burrito and placing items in every inch of your suitcase.


Try to keep shoes to a minimum. I try to pack a pair of flats, a pair of heels or wedges and a super comfortable pair of sneakers. This way, I am ready for a dress up outfit, a casual one and still have shoes that are perfect if there’s a lot of walking. Nothing ruins a trip faster than sore feet.


If you are going for a week, you don’t need a gallon size bottle of shampoo, and if you’re taking just a carry-on, you can’t travel with full size toiletries anyway, so invest in travel size items and take only what you need. I’ve had to learn to really scale down and found alternatives to my at-home regimen. For instance, I travel with a dry bar of “coalface” facial cleanser that I got at LUSH (see it here), and pack dry makeup wipes rather than toting around an eye makeup remover plus a liquid cleanser.

Skip the “what-ifs”

What if it rains? What if we need this? Or that? Chances are, no matter where you go in the world, you can buy what you need if you run into a situation where you need something you don’t have. You can’t possibly prepare for every situation, so just pack for what you know for certain.

Once you travel light, you realize how many times you’ve travelled with way too much stuff.
Forego the hassle of dragging more than you need by paring down unnecessary items… you’ll thank me later, I promise.

Don’t forget to download my FREE PRINTABLE Packing List and FREE PRINTABLE Outfit Planner, or head over to the shop and grab the full 24-page printable Travel Planner (available in A4/Letter size and also A5/Half Letter) and start planning your dream vacation.



Ciao for now…



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