Packing for a Trip: Looking Cute with a Carry-on

by | Apr 13, 2018 | Refine Your Style | 0 comments

Do you feel overwhelmed when packing for a trip knowing you can only use a carry-on? Don’t be – just follow some simple tips and packing for a trip will be a breeze!  I used to travel for business quite a bit, so I became an expert at the carry-on game. The ease of travel outweighed the benefits of having more clothing choices.

packing for a trip

Then I met my husband and he loved to check a bag. He didn’t travel much back then, so he liked the luxury of full-sized amenities and being able to throw everything he needed into a giant suitcase for a long weekend. I finally brought him over to the right side when he started traveling twice a month for work. He couldn’t believe how much I could get in his carry-on and was wowed by the fact that his clothes came out wrinkle-free! So, yes, it is possible to carry-on your luggage and still have everything you need to feel put together. As a bonus, you won’t have to pay the baggage fee!

I’ve honestly packed for a week-long cruise and a two-week business trip in a carry-on, so I know it can be done, but it does take a bit of organization if you also want to look put together for your trip. My husband and I just went on a four-day business trip, so I thought I’d take you through the steps I took when packing for my trip.

Getting started

Some people start with figuring out what bag to use but I think that’s backwards. I like to start with my packing list and my outfits. For my packing list, I ask these questions:

  1. What type and how many outfits will I need? For this particular trip, I needed two travel day outfits, two business casual outfits, and two casual outfits.
  2. What will the weather be like? This question helps me narrow down what I want to bring and any extras I will need (like jackets). This was a March trip to a tropical island for business, so when I looked up the weather, I knew I needed Spring outfits, but since the evenings would be cooler, I knew I needed to bring a light jacket.

Choose your outfits

Now that I know what I need to bring, I can concentrate on specific outfits. When choosing what I’m going to bring, I rely heavily on my go-to outfit formulas. When planning outfits that I need to mix-and-match, I look to one of my great capsule wardrobe resources – the current style challenge I am doing, my Closet Staples Guide or my Big Book of Outfit Formulas. Here are the steps I take to choose which outfits to pack:

Packing List

  1. Decide which outfit is most important to me. For this trip, it was the business casual outfits as the business events were the point of the trip. When traveling for personal reasons, it’s often a party or big get together. On vacation, my focus is often more on being comfortable and still cute while traipsing around Europe or Disneyland.
  2. Look through my capsule wardrobe guide and choose my favorite outfit. On our recent trip, I used my Spring Capsule Wardrobe to help me choose my outfits. I am in love with the spring green sweater from the challenge, so I started there and looked at all of the possible outfits. This gave me the first business casual outfit and casual outfit. I swapped the jeans for navy pants and added a striped blouse. At night, I chose to wear my open-toe booties and added my utility jacket for the breeze. 
  3. Choose your other outfits based on bottoms and shoes. Since I had my first two outfits, I just looked for other outfits in my capsule guide that worked with the shoes, the navy pants, and the jeans. Having the guide makes it so easy! I chose the printed shirt and pink cardigan.
  4. Choose your travel outfit. I often choose my travel outfit based on an outer layer and shoes. I am always cold on a plane, so I want a sweater and/or jacket and to wear shoes with socks. I will either choose to wear my workout shoes (since I always pack them) or bulkier shoes from my planned outfits. Since this was an international trip, comfort was key, so I started with my running shoes and utility jacket. Also, due to the length of travel time, I wore completely different bottoms than my planned outfits and two different sweaters with the same scarf. After traveling for more than 24 hours, there is no way that I am wearing the same top twice!

Get to packing

Now that you know what you’re wearing, you just have to choose a bag and pack any necessary remaining items. In addition to my outfits, I usually pack workout clothes, a nightshirt, and loungewear for the hotel room. Don’t forget your accessories. You can really change up an outfit by adding different accessories and they don’t take up much room. Watch this video for packing tips:

Once you’re packed you can relax and just enjoy your trip knowing that you will be hassle-free at the airport and still feel put together for your trip. Here are a few of the outfits I wore on my trip:

Packing List - Business Casual Packing list - Casual Packing for a trip packing for a spring trip

Shop my look:

Navy Utility Jacket | Green Sweater | Release Hem Jeans | Printed Shirt | Pink Cardigan (similar) | Peep-Toe Booties (similar)

I would love to hear your packing tips in the comments and what your favorite go-to travel outfit formulas are!

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