Smart Packing In Just One Carry On

How to pack all your stuff in one carry on bag!

With the not-so-new standard of charging for checked baggage, I wanted to try an experiment. I wanted to see just how much I could fit into my carry on bag. I was able to pack for 7 full days without doing laundry!

Destination: LA, California
Bag Contents:

  • Fleece Jacket
  • Rain Coat
  • Towel
  • Maxi Dress
  • 6 Shirts
  • 3 Pants
  • 1 Capris
  • 1 Shorts
  • Swimming Suits
  • 5 Pair Ankle Socks
  • Underwear (pack tightly in the hat to save the hats shape)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 Necklaces
  • Earrings
  • Scarf
  • Watch
  • Sandals
  • Phone Charger
  • Toiletries
  • 10 Sample Packs of Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Makeup Bag
  • Straightener
  • Book
  • Baby Wipes
  • Important Documents

Hmm. What else should I bring? I still have room in the front pockets and a second carry on! I like to fill my purse with in flight activities/crafts and snacks.


Here are a few tips that we should all remember to be ultralight packers.

  • Make sure that everything in your suitcase has multiple functions or will be used more than once. Like a swimsuit coverup by day, scarf by night.
  • When packing clothing and shoes, pack your lightest weight clothing, rolled tightly, not folded. Grab the thin skinny jeans and ditch the pair of heavy Levis.
  • If you want to bring some thick/heavy clothing or shoes, wear them on the plane.
  • As for warmth, pack a thin hooded fleece and a raincoat instead of a thick coat.
  • When packing accessories, think minimal. All accessories should be limited to a sandwich Ziplock bag. That will save space and keep it all together.
  • If you need to bring a towel, remember that you don’t need a huge beach towel. Take your thinnest towel that you have. If you are going to the beach, take a large mumu wrap to sit on instead.
  • As for sun protection, grab sunglasses, a ball cap and this Eminence Sun Defense Minerals, it’s my favorite! It’s great for travel because you can’t bring the liquid kind on the plane.
  • If you are reading a thick hardback novel, think about taking a detour and reading something light instead. Time to finally finish the The 5 Love Languages!
  • Limit your toiletries to 1 Quart Ziplock with no bigger than 3.4 oz. bottles as per airline regulations and keep it easy access to take out at the security gate.
  • Always carry a travel size pack of baby wipes. You never know just how you will need them, but you will.
  • Take a manilla envelope to keep all of your boarding passes, passports and important documents together and secure. Never leave your bag unattended.

What travel hacks have you learned over the years? What is your favorite thing to take on all of your vacations?


15 thoughts on “Smart Packing In Just One Carry On”

      1. I have been in LA and froze to death on more than one occasion. The last time was around the first of Dec and we were heading out on a cruise the following day. I was so cold that I insisted on hot tea to warm back up. So even if we are headed to the Caribbean, there is always some kind of a light wrap in my suitcase. You just never know.

        1. I completely agree! Despite the hottest locations, if you go to a movie, visit a cave, stay with someone who LOVES air conditioning, want to sleep on the plane…even some restaurants make me glad I have one warm light layer.

  1. I recently made a huge mistake. I traveled to Miami and Atlanta in May. I got wet in Miami and caught a chill and had nothing to put on to warm me up. Atlanta was worse. I got soaked and the temperature was 49 degrees. I was frozen. I will never ever travel anywhere without something warm. I also forgot to pack an umbrella and rain jacket. I knew there would be showers In Miami.

  2. I lived in LA for two years and it does get cold at night esp. by the beach! During Feb it rained a ton, too. The whole 72 and sunny is a myth, in my opinion. ;o) I have a similar story with going to Florida for Spring Break and not packing any warm sweat pants. I ended up sick 🙁 Never again will I travel without a warm top & sweatpants. Plus, a nice scarf or two 🙂 Thanks for your post! Its lovely!

  3. does rolling up your clothes keep them from wrinkles or just saves space? i have been going to Haiti on mission trip for the past 3 years and these tips will help me out so much.(thank you!) When we fly from FL to Haiti on cargo plane we are only allowed 30 pounds of weight. thankfully our scrubs are provided for the medical clinics, but the suitcase you show in the picture is just like the one i take so i am examining the pictures closely. Question though were the toiletries enough for that many days? (toothpaste in particular) there are no walmarts where we go. lol. and I even take a jacket to Haiti plane flights can be very cold. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  4. When traveling my husband and I always take along a plastic poncho. They fold up really small, fit into a quart ziplok, and they fit into the day bag without taking up lots of room. Then if a shower catches you 6 blocks from your room, whip out your poncho and stay dry. For warmth, I use a hoodie–which I wear onto the plane, regardless of the season.. Planes are ALWAYS cold. A tee shirt under the long sleeve shirt and the hoodie provides a lot of warmth.

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