5 Things…to Keep in Mind When Traveling with Only a Carry-On

The last couple weeks, I’ve been lusting for a weekend getaway- there are just so many reasons why the summer is an ideal time to pack your bags, hop in a car (or on a train, or on a boat…) and say “Adios!” After all, the weather is ideal in many places (Maine? Alaska? Montana? Vermont?), many people are in a vacation frame of mind anyway, etc. But also…why not? Let’s pack our bags and GO!

As I’ve become more experienced with traveling, I’ve realized that it simplifies things so much when I decide to travel with only a carry-on bag. Sure, it’s not always possible or easy for that matter but paring down to only a carry-on gives me peace of mind. Caution: this is probably not the best idea for someone who buys lots of souvenirs when on vacay!

Here are some things I keep in mind whenever I travel with only a carry-on:


5 Things…to Keep in Mind When Traveling With Only a Carry-On

1.  Check size limits of carry-on bags (for all airlines you’ll be using)

Need I say more? This should go without saying, but once upon a time while traveling in Europe I realized that I’d somehow forgotten to check the carry-on size limits for a connecting flight. I’m pretty sure in that moment I had a mini panic-attack, as the last things I wanted to do were to a) check my bags and/or b) pay hefty fees. Luckily, the size of my bag complied with the airline’s standards. Now, I am always sure to go over my itinerary and double-check the size limits of all the airlines I’ll be taking!

2. Create a list

Lists, lists, lists….not only are they a great way to keep your progress in check when working on a project, but creating lists help maintain my sanity when I’m packing a carry-on! It can be very tempting to throw in that extra pair of heels (or sandals), and that darling dress I just scored on sale when I’m packing at the last minute but then I often find myself sitting on top of my suitcase, attempting to close it! If I create a list with everything I need prior to packing, I’m much more likely to pack only what I need.

3. Layer it on, like nobody’s business. I may look like a snowman, and that’s okay with me!

I have a bit of an issue during the summertime, and so I live by this rule not only during the winter but during the warmer months as well. When traveling with only a carry-on, I always take advantage of the fact that airports and airplanes and trains and whatever mode of transportation I will be taking may be as cold as the Arctic Circle. Keep calm, and layer it on! This way, I  free up some space in my carry-on bag, plus I’m always happy when I’m traveling goose bump-free. If I start to feel a bit too cozy, I peel off the layers. Simple as that!

4. Coordinate all outfits BEFORE leaving

This tip goes along with # 2- last February when I traveled to Palm Beach with my girlfriends, I realized after our girl’s trip was over that I hadn’t worn a couple things I had packed in my carry-on bag. I felt so silly- why did I bother packing that extra skirt and those extra dark denim jeans (hello, I was in FLORIDA)? Anyway, I learned then that I should have stuck with this rule- plan and coordinate all outfits before you leave. I’m much less likely to pack excessively if I know exactly what I’m wearing, when.

5. For goodness sakes’, hide the unmentionables

For some reason, this blonde-haired and blue-eyed girl always gets stopped and searched no matter which country she’s in. Yes, it’s crazy and I feel like I’m in a game of “Capture the Blonde”! I’ll never forget the first time I was traveling with only a carry-on and my bag was searched. Oops….I will never forget the moment when the security guard began to look through my bag! I learned a valuable lesson then- keep unmentionables in an opaque pouch.


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