How to Pack in A Carry On for A Week

by | Oct 3, 2019 | Travel | 5 comments

How to pack in a carry on for a week, Alicia Wood, Dallas Lifestyle Expert, Dallas Fashion Blogger, Dallas Travel Blogger

Hartmann 7R Spinner Carry On / MZ Wallace Large Metro Tote / Cuyana Make Up Bag Set / Rowenta Travel Steamer / White Staud Shirley Bag / Chloe Espadrilles / Personalized Planner (Updated links if you are coming from IG stories: Paravel Aviator Plus Carry-On Suitcase / Truffle Mini Clutch for Passport and Money / Truffle Small Clarity Clutches for Liquids and Beauty – TSA approved!)

Wow! This post has been a long overdue considering I photographed back in January when I returned from Cabo! My hope was to share with you how to pack for a long weekend using a carry-on but the spring months seemed to be filled with so many other things to share that this post was just written!

On my recent girls trip, my friends were amazed that I had packed for 8 days in just these two pieces and it reminded me to share my tips with you! (If you are here from a recent Instagram story swipe up, this is the Paravel carry-on I showed and the Truffle clarity clutches for make up and skincare.  They are my new obsession!)

For years, I folded my clothes in neat stacks and put them into my suitcase side-by-side lining the edge with belts, shoes, hairdryers, curling iron, etc. The funny thing is, my husband had always packed things completely flat, one item at a time. Of course, I thought he was crazy and he thought the same of me! We have laughed so many times because on most occasions he ends up saying, “You were right!” but not this time. I had to tell him HE was right!  Packing flat is the key to getting more in your suitcase no matter the size!

The clothes you see in these photos were from our trip to Cabo.  I did the exact same packing method for the 8 days I was in Malibu and Aspen just a few weeks ago. I took this 21 inch Hartman 7R Carry On Spinner and the MZ Wallace Large Metro Tote I got everything you see (and a bit more) in this post in those two bags.

For Cabo, I packed 5 swimsuits, 4 coverups, 6 dresses, 4 shorts, 3 shirts, 6 pair undies, 3 night gowns, 2 pairs of sandals and 1 pair of espadrilles, 1 beach bag, and 1 small bag for evenings. I also took my laptop, make up and skincare bags, travel hairdryer, curling iron, favorite travel wrap and calendar. 

For 8 days in Malibu and Aspen, I packed 5 pairs of jeans/cargo pants, 4 sweaters, 3 tops/t-shirts, 4 pairs of shorts, 1 fleece, 1 cardigan, 2 nightgowns, 8 pair undies, 2 work out tops, 2 sports bras, 2 workout leggings, 1 clutch for evenings, 1 pair Golden Goose, 1 pair Nikes, 1 pair heels, 1 pair tall boots, 1 pair of sandals, make up and skincare bags, favorite travel wrap, and laptop. Both times a crossbody day bag that fit in the tote, too.

Oh! And let’s not forget my Rowenta Travel Steamer which is another key to this type of packing. Packing flat actually does prevent a lot of wrinkles but I am obsessed with this steamer and my clothes remaining wrinkle free so it goes with me everywhere. I purchased the dual voltage travel version for our trip to Italy.  Believe it or not, this method of packing got me through 12 days in Italy using my 29″ Hartmann 7R Spinner and a tote. One thing is for sure, my steamer stays in my suitcase so it’s never forgotten.

I know a lot of people are big believers in packing cubes. The Hartmann 7R Spinners are my absolute favorite because one side of the suitcase acts as a large packing cube. I place everything completely flat and unfolded on that one side, tucking the clothes under the sewn in cover (over stuffing just a bit) and then zip it up. It compresses perfectly, similar to a packing cube.  Each of the colors has leather trim but come with covers that quickly slip over and actually help identify your bag at the airport!  I love the black as well.

On the other side, there are straps where I put the travel steamer, shoes, T3 Travel hairdryer, T3 single pass curling iron, pouch with nightgown and undies, loose shoes and cosmetic bags. In the MZ Wallace Metro Tote, I am able to pack more in the three pouches provided with the tote.

For the beach, in the largest pouch, I put my espadrilles, a pair of flip-flops, a swimsuit and cover up. This way, I was ready to change for the beach just in case our room wasn’t ready. It also kept me from having to open my suitcase. In the medium-size pouch, I packed additional swimsuits and coverups. The small pouch stored all of my electronic cords for my computer and phone.

It amazes me that after the three zipper pouches were filled, there was still room for my computer, calendar, a small purse, my favorite travel wrap and a book. This travel wallet is a favorite because not only does it carry our passports, it also doubles as a clutch for evening.

I tend to pack a bit more than needed on most trips! Packing an extra outfit or two is something a girl just needs to do in case she changes her mind!  Even with adding sweaters this method always seems to work.

Being organized is the key to packing light and one way to do this is to planning each days outfits.  I create an Excel spreadsheet with what I will wear for each day: mornings, afternoons and evenings. I know it sounds like a bit of overkill and Type A but I’ll own it!  Plus it helps with over packing even with the extra dress or two to have some flexibility.

I hope these tips will help you whether you’re packing in a carry-on and tote or in a larger suitcase and tote for a longer trip. I’m about to start packing for Parents Weekend and can’t wait!  Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m always happy to answer!

Bon Voyage!



PS – Did you know two new giveaways that will be on going to thank you for your loyalty and support.  Randomly, each month I’ll select winners from the comments those who leave on blog posts and from those subscribed to my newsletter.  These winners will receive gift boxes filled with some of my favorite items…some gifted by brands and others I add to the mix.

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Meet Alicia is a lifestyle destination for everyday living written by Alicia Wood. Alicia's goal is create a timeless, fresh way to approach fashion, entertaining, beauty, design and travel.

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Meet Alicia is a lifestyle destination for everyday living written by Alicia Wood. Alicia's goal is create a timeless, fresh way to approach fashion, entertaining, beauty, design and travel.

Read More


  1. Maria

    Thank you for sharing this great post Alicia! I am always overpacking and would love to not do that and be able to use a smaller suitcase. I need to get that travel steamer pronto!

  2. Tina Carpenter

    I so needed this! I’m going on a girls trip for 5 days. Before there was no way I could just do a carry on. I’m going to try your flat method. My friend said to try the roll up method, but it didn’t work for me. I always did your method of folding & stacking. Thank you!

  3. Kim Winblood

    At the airport now with only a carry on! Great post! With the airlines being such a disaster these days, I am trying to carry on only. Big test coming up…Vienna in November!

  4. Shelly

    Thanks for all the great tips!I love your jeans, what brand are they?

  5. Jennifer Essad

    spinners are the best, I just bought a piece of luggage that literally glides across the flow w/little effort

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