2 Weeks in a Carry-on: How to Pack Carry-on Only for an Overseas Trip

brown fedora hat beside white sneakers and blue textile
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Packing carry-on only is the way Chris and I prefer to travel: It’s light, it’s easy, and it saves time.

I used to think it was too difficult to pack everything I’d need in a carry-on, but I’ve changed my tune. Think it will be too hard? Challenge yourself: just to plan to pack in your carry-on. Seriously. Just say that you will and then do it. Amazingly, I still always overpack even with the limited space.

Here are guidelines I follow to make sure I pack well for each trip…

I use a carry-on roller suitcase from Away that has tons of compartments, buckles, and zips that make the interior of the case clean and orderly. I also have a great weekender bag that fits under the seat in front of me that I always bring along. In a pinch (or, really, on a budget airline like Spirit or EasyJet), this tote is my only bag.

Here’s what I always do before I pack for a trip:

  • Check the baggage limits and specifications of the airline I’m flying. I’ve seen too many people get stopped and charged extra at the gate. No thank you!
  • Peruse Accuweather’s extended forecast for my destination.
  • Stock up on toiletry samples. If you buy your products at a department store, ask for sample sizes of your products.
  • Compress it! Compression bags are LEGIT. For our trip last summer we had to pack for three different climates, and compression bags made carry-on-only possible.
  • Use packing cubes sparingly — they’re great in theory, but I tend to use only one or two at a time. I find the smaller ones to be the most helpful.


Rolling Suitcase
I use my rolling suitcase for clothing and other various and sundry items. Also: Roll your clothes! It saves so much room.

Here’s my current suitcase situation for 2 weeks in Italy (summer climate = HOT, maybe some rain):


Weekender Bag
I use my weekender bag for everything else, especially the things I might want to access on the flight.

  • Liquids & other toiletries (i.e., glasses, make-up, comb, toothbrush, meds/vitamins)
  • iPhone, earbuds, charger
  • Books
  • Camera, lenses, & camera bag
  • Compression socks
  • Power converter/adapter
  • Snacks & gum
  • Collapsible water bottle


What to Wear on the Plane
Dress for comfort! NO JEANS ALLOWED on 12+ hour flights.

  • Bulkiest shoes (Stan Smiths for this flight — I’ll trade them out for my compression socks once I get settled in.)
  • Running tights
  • Soft t-shirt
  • Hoodie

What tips do you use while packing for your longer trips? Or is checking a bag no big deal?

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