How to Pack in A Carry On for A Week

by | Packing Lists, Travel | 14 comments

Since many of you are packing for Spring Break like I am, I wanted to share How to Pack for a Week in a Carry On with you today.  This is one of the most popular posts on Alicia Wood Lifestyle! You can see video of how I do this on my Instagram highlights.  Also, don’t miss my Tips for Organized Travel here.

On a girls trip a few years ago, my friends were amazed that I had packed for 8 days in just these two pieces.  When I went to Punta Mita on a girl’s trip, I “made” all of my friends pack this way and they say they’ll never go back!  You’ll see two suitcases in this post.  The one I use now is the Paravel and it is, handsdown, the best suitcase!  It rolls like a dream!  Paravel has several options to choose from as well as colors.  

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!

I use the Truffle clarity clutch pouches for everything from makeup and skincare to passports.  You get one quart sized plastic bag for each carry-on.  I put them both in my carry-on suitcase on top of the clothes.  They are my new obsession!  I shared Five Tips for Organized Travel and more details on how I use these in this post.

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

I put a Straw bag to double as beach bag in the MZ Wallace Bag first and other things inside and around it.  The new MZ Wallace Large Metro Tote Deluxe has fabulous built in sleeve on the back that attaches it to your suitcase handle so it doesn’t slide!  It also has two more exterior zipper pouches and a slot on the front that is perfect for your phone!  I’ve loved it.  I only bought a new one because sweet Holly got into my closet and decided to chew on all the leather trim of this silver one! UGH!

For Cabo, I packed:

For 8 days in Malibu and Aspen using the Paravel Aviator Plus Carry-On Suitcase, I packed:

Oh! I don’t go anywhere without my a 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 took this one to Greece and loved it.  It is so compact and works quickly.  One thing’s for sure, my steamer stays in my suitcase so it’s never forgotten.

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

I know a lot of people are big believers in packing cubes.  I currently use the Paravel Aviator Plus Carry-On Suitcase are both great because one side of the suitcase acts as a large packing cube. (The Hartmann 7R Spinner is seen here but discontinued.) 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.  I love My Paravel Aviator Plus Carry-On Suitcase.  It rolls like a dream!  All of the girls are getting one for Christmas because it rolls so much better than their Away suitcases and they always complain! 

On the other side, there are straps where I put the travel steamer (this one is my new favorite and so compact!), shoes, T3 Travel hair dryer, 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.

Hartmann 7R Spinner Carry On (Similar Carry On) / MZ Wallace Large Metro Tote Deluxe with Luggage Sleeve / Cuyana Make Up Bag Set / Rowenta Travel Steamer / White Staud Shirley Bag (available in pink or black) / Straw bag to double as beach bagUpdated Style of 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!)

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. 

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.

If you aren’t wanting to check your luggage, there are luggage shipping services.  We used Luggage Free for a trip over New Year’s to ski in France last year.  We were going to Kansas City for a week and then skiing so we need a lot more than we can fit in a carry on.  Because we also had connecting flights and I didn’t want to hassle with lost luggage, so we shipped all of our ski gear. It was a fantastic service.

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. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m always happy to answer!

Bon Voyage!

XO

Alicia

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14 Comments

  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

  6. katherine smith

    great post!!!! can you share your top you are wearing

  7. Jamie

    Could you please share where you got your cute jeans?

    • Alicia

      Hi Jamie
      They are old Veronica Beard but they have some similar right now with the pockets on the front! Here’s the link. You’d have to cut the hem but that is what I do to most of my denim!
      xo
      Alicia

  8. Kelly Webb

    Thank you! I always refer back to your travel posts. I still haven’t been able to use the carryon only for a week long ski trip (sigh!), but I just bought the metro tote and took it this week to Deer Valley and LOVE it! And PS- The Montage has a Tata Harper facial, and it was fabulous. I started using the eye cream you recommended, so I was very excited to get the facial and try a bunch of the products.

  9. Julie

    I would love to see a video of how you lay your clothes flat. What about dresses and pants that are longer than the case? I assume you have to fold those?

  10. Anne Tate

    Question about the MZ Wallace large metro tote deluxe- does it fit under the airplane seat?

    • Alicia

      Hi Anne
      Yes! It fits easily under the seat. Since it is soft sided it can squeeze if needed. I pull it out a bit after take off and use it as a footrest since I’m 5’2″!
      xo
      Alicia

  11. Kelly Webb

    I always love these posts, refer back to them frequently, and send friends here trying to “convert” them (and cheer them on when they give it a go!). We started trying to be carryon only after a trip to Europe in 2009, and almost always are nowadays. It so transformative for our travel!

    • Alicia

      Yay, Kelly!
      I’m so glad to know my method and tips are helpful! It’s so nice to arrive with all your things and get moving!
      xo
      Alicia

Alicia Wood

MEET ALICIA

AliciaWoodLifestyle.com 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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Alicia Wood

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AliciaWoodLifestyle.com 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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14 Comments

  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

  6. katherine smith

    great post!!!! can you share your top you are wearing

  7. Jamie

    Could you please share where you got your cute jeans?

    • Alicia

      Hi Jamie
      They are old Veronica Beard but they have some similar right now with the pockets on the front! Here’s the link. You’d have to cut the hem but that is what I do to most of my denim!
      xo
      Alicia

  8. Kelly Webb

    Thank you! I always refer back to your travel posts. I still haven’t been able to use the carryon only for a week long ski trip (sigh!), but I just bought the metro tote and took it this week to Deer Valley and LOVE it! And PS- The Montage has a Tata Harper facial, and it was fabulous. I started using the eye cream you recommended, so I was very excited to get the facial and try a bunch of the products.

  9. Julie

    I would love to see a video of how you lay your clothes flat. What about dresses and pants that are longer than the case? I assume you have to fold those?

  10. Anne Tate

    Question about the MZ Wallace large metro tote deluxe- does it fit under the airplane seat?

    • Alicia

      Hi Anne
      Yes! It fits easily under the seat. Since it is soft sided it can squeeze if needed. I pull it out a bit after take off and use it as a footrest since I’m 5’2″!
      xo
      Alicia

  11. Kelly Webb

    I always love these posts, refer back to them frequently, and send friends here trying to “convert” them (and cheer them on when they give it a go!). We started trying to be carryon only after a trip to Europe in 2009, and almost always are nowadays. It so transformative for our travel!

    • Alicia

      Yay, Kelly!
      I’m so glad to know my method and tips are helpful! It’s so nice to arrive with all your things and get moving!
      xo
      Alicia

Alicia Wood

Meet Alicia

AliciaWoodLifestyle.com 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