I’ve always admired women who travel carry-on only. Travelling with hand luggage only while not actually looking like it is a skill. Personally, I struggle to go carry-on for more than a weekend! But the advantages of travelling carry-on can outweigh the challenges – lost luggage can really put a damper on your trip!
Looking stylish and making sure you’re covered for any travel eventuality with just a carry-on bag will take some forward planning. Who knows when you might get swept up in a spontaneous hike – or a spontaneous night at a fancy bar? Here are my top tips for travelling super light, and packing everything you need in a carry-on bag, while still looking and feeling great.
3 Tips for Packing Carry-On Only
1 Use Packing Cubes
Using packing cubes to separate your clothes will help you to stay organised, no matter how many times you have to unpack, and keep your clothes from exploding all over your room every time you open your bag. You can separate your clothes by category (tops, bottoms), activity (city sightseeing, hiking) or actual look (day 1, day 2) to help you stay organised.
2 Colour Coordinate
Packing with a specific colour palette in mind means you can mix and match your items to get to most mileage and looks out of what you’ve got. Denim, white and grey can go a long way. But so can shades of khaki, nudes and blues. Decide on your colour palette before you start packing so that you can narrow down your wardrobe and get the most out of your choices when you get to your destination.
3 Accessorise, Accessorise, Accessorise
Earrings, scarves and sunglasses take up very little space and can add colour and drama to any look. Pairing a white t-shirt and jeans with a bright yellow pair of tassled earrings or a cute red head scarf and a killer pair of sunglasses can take your look from casual to chic in one easy step.
10 Must-Have Things to Pack if You’re Travelling Carry-On Only
The most important thing to remember when you’re travelling carry-on only is to wear your biggest, bulkiest items. Boots, a big coat, a blazer – wear anything that’s going to take up too much space in your bag on your flight.
1 Jeans – Black or blue, depending on your preference. My advice would be to leave the ripped ones at home, as they are harder to dress up if you wanted to go slightly more smart-casual.
2 Shorts – A comfortable pair that you could wear with heels, a t-shirt and red lipstick for cocktails or with sneakers, a t-shirt and a ponytail for a day-trip.
3 Leggings – They are comfortable enough to sleep in and can double up in case you feel like a spur-of-the-moment yoga class after your flight.
4 A White T-shirt – With a pair of heels, sparkly earrings, messy top knot and a perfect cat eye OR with jeans, sandals and a hat – a good white t-shirt will get more mileage than anything else in your suitcase.
5 A White Shirt – A crisp white button shirt looks great tucked into high-wasted shorts with leather sandals and a hat or worn with jeans, a pair of heels and a coat draped over your shoulders. You’ll be ready for anything with one of these in your carry-on.
6 Khaki Coat – Depending on your personal style, you could swap this out with a denim or leather jacket. I think a khaki trench coat looks super stylish with just about everything. A lightweight trench coat can roll up pretty small, so it won’t take up as much space as another coat or jacket.
7 Sneakers – I love a great pair of white sneakers. They look great with everything from a cute dress to a white t-shirt/black jeans/denim jacket combo. I only made the mistake of spending the day sightseeing in New York in a pair of ankle boots once. For me, a great pair of white sneaks are a must! Try find a pair with a bit of grip on the sole, that you can wear in the city or on a hike.
8 Leather Sandals – A good pair looks stylish with everything – including a swimsuit. Leather sandals beat flip flops any day, and can easily be worn with a dress and a casual jacket for dinner or drinks.
9 A Pair of Heels – Make sure you find a pair comfortable enough to walk a couple of blocks in. You never know when you might be invited to something fancy! I normally pack a pair of lightweight wedges or a nude block heel.
10 LDB – The Little Black Dress. Whether you go with a classic black wrap dress or opt for black with a print, the LBD is essential. Picture it with a pair of white sneakers, a cute hat and your best “take a picture of me” twirl OR your nude heels, a leather jacket draped over your shoulders and a low bun. So versatile!
Shop my favourite white ladies sneakers for travel, fashion and fitness
FILA Trailblazer | R1,599 | SHOP
PUMA Muze TS |R1,499 |SHOP
ADIDAS Stan Smith | R1,599 | SHOP
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