How to Pack a Carry On for a Trip Abroad

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 Let’s be real. When it comes to packing, some people just get it right. I on the other hand, have struggled for years with finding the perfect balance. I either overpack way too much or don’t bring enough and end up buying all the things when I’m gone. It’s taken me a few tries (and lots of error) but I think I’ve finally mastered a process that works for me.

When prepping for  our latest trip to South Africa, I was going back and forth between checking a bag or only brining a carry on. Obviously, I wanted more space so I could pack more and bring stuff back. But on the other hand, we had so many stops and different legs of our trip that checking a bag would just be too much of a hassle (I’m also super paranoid my luggage will get lost). So, I decided to challenge myself and only pack a carry on. That’s 6 night and 7 days in one bag. One. Ang guess wat? I did it!

Curious as to how I made it happen? Well I have two secrets.

Secret no. 1: Get yourself some good luggage & travel gear. I’m obsessed with Vera Bradley’s collection of functional yet still super fun pieces. I tend to mix some of their leather stuff with the classic printed pieces (loving the new coral floral for spring & summer) and it creates the perfect balance for trips abroad.

Secret no. 2: Well, that’s what the rest of this post is for. I’m giving away all of my best packing tips for efficient and stress free traveling. Check ‘em below!


Top 5 Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Carry On
  1. Try a foldable carry on case for more wiggle room.  I love how lightweight this bag is and it folds up for easy stashing once you unpack at your hotel!
  2. Stay Organized. Use separate bags for tech gear, makeup, toiletries and more. Then, just pull them out and set them on your bathroom vanity, dresser, etc.
  3. Compact and roll. This is nothing new but I can’t stress enough how much space you’ll save if you roll your clothes, stuff scarves and undergarments in hats or shoes, etc.
  4. Take pictures of your outfits to save in your phone. It makes pulling together outfits when traveling that much easier!
  5. Try a backpack instead of a purse for your flight out. I put all of my day-to-day necessities like my passport and money in my backpack and then also have room for my laptop, camera and other in-flight essentials (anyone else pack a toothbrush and extra pair of underwear?)

My favorite thing about my Vera Bradley travel pieces is that I can also wear them throughout our adventures. This leather crossbody bag and backpack didn’t leave my side the entire trip!






Video by Shelby Gordon

Photos by Nina Zomolong

This post was written in collaboration with Vera Bradley. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make it happen!


  1. 2.9.18
    Lily said:

    Great tips, I struggle with packing the right amount sometimes – i always seem to under pack or forget something!

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