how to: pack for a week in just a carry-on

actually, what this post should more accurately be called is how to pack for a week in less than a carry-on because in europe carry-ons are much smaller than in america. (just like everything else.) so this is actually how i packed for a week in spain using my euro size carry-on and a backpack.

something i have learned over the past few years of international travel is packing light = good. it’s less heavy, less costly to get onto an airplane and honestly easier now. at first it seemed harder but now i know how to limit myself and that i probably STILL won’t wear everything i brought even when i pack “light”. so this is also the chronicles of a recovering overpacker:

  1. only bring like 3 shirts. it’s called minimalism in the new age i guess. i think we used to just call it normal before the strike of consumer capitalism. and eventually you realize it’s actually way less stressful than trying to decide what strikingly similar top to wear out of the 30 you packed. i choose my absolute favorite pieces and anything less than amazing is not coming with me.
  2. mini everything. i have always loved the sample/travel sizes of products because 1) they are adorable and i’m the kind of person that calls a tiny deodorant cute 2) it saves soooo much space like don’t you dare bring a full size ANYTHING when you’re traveling light. a more sustainable option is using empty small bottles to repackage your favorite shampoos/etc. many sustainable product companies are now coming out with travel sizes which is amazing (and cute of course!!!!).
  3. packing! cubes! are my saving grace. ever since i started using packing cubes, my packing has been revolutionized. not only does this save space since you are able to better compress your clothing, it also keeps you sooo much more organized so the inside of your luggage is not chaos like every other part of traveling. i use them to separate out clothes categorically (ie. underwear + bralettes + socks in one, tops + sweaters in another, jeans + skirts in another) it makes it much easier to get dressed in the morning when you’re jetlagged and out of it.
  4. choosing a color palette for the trip and sticking with it is a way of life for me. depending on where i’m going, this color palette is different. in miami for spring break it might be pastels and white, in spain in the winter it’s camels, reds and mauves. part of it is i just enjoy the aesthetics of a new place and creating a new life in a new place around colors. another part is i am a very particular kind of odd that correlates color to environment pretty heavily. thirdly, it’s just easier when you know everything matches at least kind of and you can come up with a million variations if you have to.
  5. dresses. picture this: one outfit, one piece. it’s called a dress and imo we’ve forgotten about the beauty and simplicity of dresses. you can also pile a sweater on top to make it look like skirt or tuck into another skirt to make it look like a top. also wearing a long loose dress feels like wearing nothing so.
  6. 2 pairs of shoes. that’s it. that’s the rule. one comfy for walking and the plane and any kind of active thing and one that feel dressy enough to go out in/get dinner/also wear daytime. so the 2 shoe rule is arbitrary but it really works for me and forces me to make decisions. because shoes are my weakness and i would love to bring another suitcase of only shoes but we’re trying to be adults now ok. so choose wisely.
  7. for pajamas, bring a pair of light silk. they are easily packable, squishable and functional in almost every climate.
  8. multi-purpose products are a game changer. my favorite is the smith’s rose bud salve. this is an amazing moisturizer, salve and lip balm that i swear by. if you have a problem putting smith’s on it will probably help. except lost passports. can’t do anything about that.

really, all 8 of these could be boiled down to: bring less shit. i have never wished that i brought more stuff on a trip but i have often wished i brought less. save room for postcards and art prints and funky clothes from street vendors. we don’t have “need” much. this isn’t groundbreaking but it’s what i often need to hear. so that’s the secret. there’s no secret. you don’t need to stuff your socks in your shoes or somehow make everything smaller. just bring less bs and more functional, significant pieces. i don’t know who needs to hear this but it’s probably me.

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