I’ll admit I love checking my bags for a few reasons, including having the luggage space to bring back souvenirs from my travels and be free of worry when it comes to bringing all my bags on what is likely already a crowded flight, but there is something so nice about packing light on your travels.
Less fuss and less baggage to carry around (literally!), a carry-on will make your life so simple as you embark on your next adventure. But, it does require a little bit of planning because for most it’s not easy to bring less and still feel like you’ve not forgotten something behind.
1. Capsule Wardrobe!
This is number one on my list of travel tips for good reason. It works and will make traveling with only a carry-on so much easier. I’m not perfect at this myself, but I like to think I’ve started to get better over the years, and want to share what I’ve learned so far. If you’re not familiar with a capsule wardrobe, it’s a seasonal wardrobe that you create out of a certain number of pieces, usually between 20-30, that you wear interchangeably for the full season. This is a very adaptable formula for travel, too, only I’d recommend about 10-15 items and keeping baggage and accessories at a minimum.
Of course, it’s all going to depend on where you’re traveling to, during what season, and for how long, but this formula will give you somewhat of a baseline that you can adapt to your needs. As a good starting point, I’d say 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 3 pairs of shoes (all different for different occassions), and a couple of jackets, depending on where you’re traveling to and what you’ll be doing.
In my experience, choose a colour palette and select pieces that are classic and versatile that you can easily wear multiple times and in different ways, rather than choosing purely trendy pieces. That said, I wouldn’t put away a pretty dress or bold-printed skirt if I loved it. It’s all about balance. Bring a couple of beloved bold pieces and the rest classic pieces.
We only use about 20% of our wardrobe on average, so learning to work with what you’ve brought sometimes allows for some inspired outfits you might not have chosen otherwise.
2. Pack Strategically
This tip is one I learned when I was traveling in Europe and then again when I loved across the country for school. This is an essential travel tip for both checked and carry-on luggage, but even more so the latter because every inch of space needs to be accounted for.
I’ve found that rolling my clothes takes up less space and putting shoes at the corners of my carry-on uses space most strategically and thoughtfully (Think Tetris for clothing). In the little nooks made from your shoes I wedge in smaller pieces, such as softs or rolled t-shirts.
Another big packing tip: Before I put anything in my suitcase, if I am bringing wide-brimmed hats on my travels, I put my hat(s) in the middle of my case, brim up, stuff the hat with shirts or socks, and then pack around and on top of my hat. Doing so ensures that my hats don’t get squished, but also makes sure that I make the most out of the space I have (Again, think Tetris). Play around with it and see what fits where best!
3. Embrace Minimalism
This isn’t so much a physical tip for you to help with packing but rather a mindset that will allow you to pack and set out on your travels smoothly. It’s amazing how strong and influential your mind can be, and when you fill your mind with positivity and openness, a weigh lifts from your shoulders and things just start to align and progress naturally.
So, my third best travel tip for traveling with only a carry-on is to embrace minimalism. Embrace the capsule wardrobe you’ve put together for your trip, taking pride and joy in using your clothes more than once and in multiple ways. When I take less on my trip and actually use what I’ve brought and feel content in my creativity to pair certain pieces together, I feel more confident and satisfied with myself.
Be content with less and you’d be surprised how creative you can be and how easy it becomes to dress everyday so that you can focus on the no doubt amazing adventures on which you’re about to embark. There is truth to the phrase, “Less is more,” and here, it is no different. Believe me, the less you worry about whether you have everything you need and the less you actually carry with you, the more mental and physical room you’ll have to enjoy what matters.
4. Maximize Space In Your Personal Bag
For more larger airlines you can bring a carry-on, as well as a “personal item,” which can be as small as a cross-body purse to as large as a backpack. Depending on where you are traveling, try to bring a larger personal item so that you can bring your most valuable items (i.e. laptop, camera, headphones, books, etc.) in that bag.
Distribute the weight of your belongings effectively between your carry-on and personal item because this will ensure you meet weight regulations, as well as feel organized going through security. If you bring a larger tote, even, rather than a full-fledged backpack, you’re guaranteed to be able to have more space in your carry-on. Just be sure that both bags are manageable to carry around with you, since no amount of distribution between bags would be able to help you if you’re simply taking too much.
Channeling Friday Night Lights here: Minimize your belongings, Maximize your space, Can’t lose. 😉