I am constantly being asked by friends and customers how to pack a carry-on for a one or two-week trip. Ideally, everything should fit into one small bag. In this article, I am going to focus only on women’s wardrobe. If you follow the ideas and guidelines suggested here, you’ll look great and you’ll wear everything you take with you.
Trust me. I’ve been doing this for years.
How to Pack a Carry-On and never worry about lost luggage again.
You’ll save money, as you won’t be paying for checked luggage. And most importantly, you won’t be exhausted by dragging a heavy bag around with you. This is especially important for travel to Europe, as riding the trains and buses is more convenient and less expensive. If your bag is too heavy, or you have more than a carry-on and a personal bag, it’s just not practical.
With the help of my friend Rhonda Sargaent Chambers, a professional model and spokesperson, I created this photo shoot to illustrate exactly how to pack a carry-on bag by mixing, matching, and layering your clothes so you always look great and travel light. I asked Rhonda to keep the wardrobe choices classic and think Italy (stylish but a bit conservative), since I wanted to show pieces that could travel anywhere.
I arrived at Rhonda’s with my makeup kit, a bottle of prosecco, and my camera. Rhonda supplied the wardrobe. I loved her choices and the color palette.
How To Pack a Carry-On For a 1 or 2 Week Trip
Choose a core neutral color
Pick white, brown, grey or navy for summer. You can add one an accent color, but it must coordinate with everything else. Scarves are a great way to add color and pattern. Pack one summer dress, and one top that can dress up a pair of pants for evening.
Pack a hat
Hats are a must for summer travel. There are a lot of great hats in modern fabrics that you can literally fold up, or stuff it into a hand bag.
Wear comfortable shoes
Practical shoes are a must! Only pack shoes that you know for a fact you can walk a minimum of five hours in. When packing shoes I never pack more than two pair. One comfortable and supportive pair for heavy walking and travel days, and one pair of sandals that can dress up an outfit for dinner, or a day at the museum. Resist the urge to pack your favorite high heels. For summer travel think casual, comfortable, fresh.
The ultimate layered look!
This layered look is perfect for travel days and you can remove layers as needed. Rhonda’s wearing a tank, white button-down sweater under a jacket, and pants. You can get at least three more outfits out of just these pieces. Layering is perfect for days spent in transit. You can remove pieces as needed and they are lightweight enough to simply go into your hand bag.
What you don’t see in this photograph is the cute ivory sweater under the jacket. I always carry a similar sweater with me no matter where I go. It’s perfect over a tank top or strapless dress when you need a bit more coverage, and practical when you go from a warm outdoor location to indoor air-conditioning. Even if you are going to the beach, take it with you – I frequently travel to California where the evenings can be quite chilly. If you’re near the coast or in the mountains, the temperature can drop 10 degrees or more in the evening. Honestly, I wear this sweater more than anything else in my wardrobe, traveling or not.
Remember, you can change up the scarf and the shoes and suddenly it looks as though you’re wearing a complete new outfit. Pair the tank under the jacket, add pants and a hat and you’ve got great walking outfit..
What’s summer without a great dress to wear out to dinner? If you like to visit churches, you will need a jacket to put over a sleeveless dress. In some countries like Italy, it’s a must, as most of the important churches you’ll want to visit won’t let you in with bare arms. It’s also a good idea to be respectful of the customs of other cultures.
Here’s where you can change shoes. I repeat, only two pair, for two weeks. This has been my practice for six years.
No more clothes required, just a little rearranging! This is how you can look stylish with only one carry-on bag. For more info, you may want to watch “What Goes in My Carry-on,” a segment I did with CW33.
If you plan on traveling for more than 2 weeks, check out How to Pack Carry-On Style For a Backpacking Trip!
All images and material copyright Penny Sadler 2012. All rights reserved.