When it comes to packing – whether it’s for a trip or the gym or an overnight – I’ve got one major piece of advice.
Get yourself a good duffle bag.
Wow. Who knew being a master packer was so simple?? Jk. You might need more in your arsenal than a good duffle but, I kid you not, the Dagne Dover Extra Large Landon Carryall is a life changer. It fits all the things could possibly need and I’m about to prove it
How to Pack for a Vacation in Just a Carry-On
Tip No. 1
Get the right luggage. For me, this includes a hardshell suitcase and a duffel bag.
Make sure your hardshell case has an expandable zipper and/or pockets/separators included. Brandon and I both use the Calpak Ambeur suitcase for all long trips and it has never let us down. Warning though – if you DO use the expandable zipper and your bag is stuffed, some airlines might try to tell you it won’t fit overhead. If it’s a regular size plane, you’re fine. But if it’s a small plane for those mini domestic flights, you might have to check it at the gate.
In addition to a good suitcase, you need a great personal item. A purse won’t cut it if you’re jetting off for 7-10 days. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with using the Dagne Dover Landon Carryall (I have the extra-large). Although it’s large, it’s still small enough to fit under the seat in front of you! If you’re worried about the size, you could easily size down to the large or medium. Whichever size you get, you’re going to love this bag. It holds everything you could need in a personal item: laptop, camera, toiletries, change of clothes, extra random items, snacks and more.
Your personal item is going to be the most used during travel – or at least it should be. If you’ve packed your carry on correctly, it’s going to be packed tight and you don’t want to keep opening and closing in between flights. I like to get the most out of my personal item by keeping these things packed at the very top:
- chargers + cords: I keep my computer charger, phone charger, headphones and any other tech items I might need during a flight at the very top of my bag so I can take it out and keep in the seat with me without having to dig through my bookbag.
- must have toiletries: keep that mini bag of essentials like lotion, toothpaste and anything you might need to freshen up at the top of the bag so you can grab it and pop into the airplane bathroom before landing from a long flight.
- extra clothes: always always keep a fresh pair of undies and a change of clothes (maybe two) in your personal item. Whether you’re doing a carry on suitcase or checking a bag, this is key
Tip No. 2
Plan out your outfits + snap photos.
I usually print out my itinerary, put together outfits and then assign outfits to days. I save all of this in my Notes app as a quick reference. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to certain outfits on certain days but it helps to ensure that a) you don’t overpack and b) you can identify which items can be worn with multiple looks.
I always pack neutral pieces for longer trips (well let’s be real, most trips) and try to stay away from super trendy items that can only be worn once. For tropical/summer vacations, my go-to’s are tan sandals, white dressy sneakers and black gym shoes, a pair of jean shorts blue jeans, lots of simple tees/tanks, maxi dresses that can be work different ways (i.e. tying the bottom to create shorter cut or layering a belt), a classic layering piece like a leather jacket or jean jacket and lots of bikinis.
Tip No. 3
Organize your toiletries.
This is usually where I have the most fun with packing. I have major OCD so organizing my travel sized beauty, skincare and other toiletry items makes me super happy.
- Instead of spending money on the not so great travel sized hair products, get reusable travel sized containers and fill them with your favorite products. I get mine in the travel sized section at Target – they’re like $.99.
- Separate your products into different bags instead of piling everything into one large pack. They’re much easier to pack this way and you can easily find what you need. I usually have one bag for hair products and one bag for everything else like toothpaste, lotion, bandaids, deodorant, etc.
- Pack a separate small bag with items you might need on the plane or for long travel days and keep this bag in a place that’s easy to access. I pack mine with contact solution/case, toothbrush & tooth paste, lotion, deodorant, wet wipes, Zicam swabs (I hate getting sick), hand sanitizer, chapstick, advil and then usually my Mixed Chicks Morning After foam to give my curls a little refresh I also throw in a clean pair of undies in this bag so I can take everything into the bathroom to freshen up after a long flight.
- You don’t need every single makeup product you own. I pack the essentials: bronzer, foundation, highlighter, eyeshadow palette, mascara, brow mascara, eyeliner and a few lip sticks (usually a nude and a red). That’s it.
Tip No. 4
Don’t forget the essentials.
These are hands down some of my favorite items that I pack for every single trip I take. They’re compact and fit right into my carry on suitcase or personal item.
Travel Steamer – I used to carry a slightly larger steamer that I still take on shorter trips if I have some extra room in my bag but we scored this one before Morocco and now I’m obsessed. It’s the size of my palm and and not only irons clothes but it also steams the more delicate pieces. I also love that it has the dual voltage so it won’t blow up in international sockets.
Filtering Water Bottle – If I’m going to stick to one thing when I travel, it’s going to be water consumption. I get extremely dehydrated on flights and when traveling in general so having this water bottle that comes with a filter ensures I can fill up anywhere (on the plane, at the airport, at the hotel, etc.) and also reminds me to drink more water.
Outlet Adapter & Converter – It took me forever to finally get my hands on the right type of outlet converter/adapter. To be honest, I still don’t know 100% which is which so I could be wrong but most items you plug into international sockets need a converter (converting the voltage? sounds about right). Your Apple chargers automatically do that but other items like a steamer or curling iron need to convert the voltage so this dual plug that comes with various outlet heads is going to be a life changer.
The extra stuff…
Roll your clothes very tightly and stuff the small items in your shoes to maximize space in your suitcase.
If you’re planning to workout, instead of packing your gym shoes, wear them on travel days so they don’t take up a ton of room in your bag. The same goes for a goat or jacket. I usually either wear my coat or carry it instead of trying to stuff fit into my suitcase.
Don’t try to force it. You know yourself and your itinerary. If it’s impossible to pack for your trip in a small suitcase, then use a checked size bag. I always at least try the smaller bag first and then edit down my outfits. Every now and then, I’ll use a bigger bag and it’s totally OK.
The Best Gym Bag of All Time
A travel bag that doubles as a chic gym bag? Count me in.
I can’t believe I’m a girl with a gym bag – but I am. And real talk, I feel like everyone needs one if they go to the gym regularly. Check out a few of my must-haves below!
- Cable machine ankle strap attachment: this is great to have in your gym bag because not all gyms have them and if they do, chances are they’re either being used when you need one or they’re super sweaty and gross!
- Barbell pad: a must have for squats or hip thrusts and you don’t have to worry about using the one at the gym that every other sweaty person rested on their neck.
- Resistance bands: I love these for stretching and doing lower impact lower body moves.
- Booty bands: I use these during almost every single workout! They’re great for doing workouts at home, too.
- Workout logbook: I love writing out my workouts for the day, tracking the weights I use each session, etc.
- BCAAs and Preworkout: I love the Oxyshred pre-workout (no beta-alanine so I don’t get the itchies) and I sip on the Alani Nutrition Peach Ring BCAAs during my workout for muscle recovery.
- Disinfectant wipes: I can’t find any online (#coronavirus), but I have a pack of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer in my gym bag always.
- Toiletries: I have a mini toiletries kit for days that I need to freshen up after a workout if I’m not going home first. I love the Megababe shower wipes and deodorant.