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Packing Light For Summer Travel

One Editor, Four Weeks of Travel, and Only One Carry-On — How to (Really) Pack Light

Let's be honest: packing is no fun, and no matter how many times we do it, we're always susceptible to overcompensating, or worse, forgetting something crucial, like underwear. So, when faced with packing for not one but three destinations — San Francisco, Bali, and New York City — over the course of the next four weeks, it wasn't the easiest task to take on. While we're at it, let's also throw in the fact that I want to steer clear of checking bags, baggage claims, and any sort of lost-and-found dilemmas. My packing conundrum was not something to be taken lightly — one Fab editor, four weeks of being on the road, three climate changes, and only one carry-on to work with? Sounded like an impossible feat. But here's the most amazing miracle of all — I did it; see the photographic evidence below! Now, before I head West, it's time to impart some quick, painless packing-light tips that should keep you on the carry-on straight and narrow. Ready? Happy trails.

  • Don't underestimate the power of making a list. Write down the bare essentials of what you'll need for your trip, wherever the final destination may be. Keyword here is basic: bras, underwear, socks, a pair of jeans, a warmer layer for the evenings, a chic go-with-everything dress, and so on. Then, follow your list as a step-by-step process of how to not go overboard when you start digging into your wardrobe.
  • Do be reasonable. Override that voice in your head trying to convince you that you absolutely need six tops for a three-day trip. You don't . . . and the practical you knows that.
  • Don't skimp too much. If you know that you're going to a wedding with formal dinners planned every night, then yes pack a few extra dresses. The tradeoff? Include a slick pair of ankle-strap sandals that go with each outfit, so you don't have to overload on the shoe front.
  • Do roll your clothes instead of folding them. First of all, it minimizes wrinkles and therefore you don't have to worry about the quality of your hotel iron. Second of all, it frees up a lot of space for other traveling necessities.
  • Don't forget to pack a great belt, a pair of statement earrings, and classic ballet flats. When in doubt, these things will come in handy.
Marisa-Tom Marisa-Tom 5 years
 @AA26 That's tough! I think my bag was about 20lbs (or 9ish kg) so I wouldn't have made it through with just a carryon on Alitalia :( Maybe take some of the weight out by eliminating any heavy shoe options? Only pack one to two pairs of jeans (if you need 'em) and chances are you don't need many heavy layers either. Let me know how it goes!
AA26 AA26 5 years
How heavy was your bag in total? I've been given a task to pack for 3 weeks holiday, but with 8kg limit :( damn alitalia for setting it so low !
jennyhamiltonstyle jennyhamiltonstyle 5 years
 @chippochic The other trick is to pick one color palette (black, navy or brown) so you can keep shoes to a minimum.  
jennyhamiltonstyle jennyhamiltonstyle 5 years
For purchases, I use a large duffle bag that folds flat and can go in the front pocket of my carry on bag.  Longchamp makes a good one:  
Marisa-Tom Marisa-Tom 5 years
 @Guest44989 In our next travel post, perhaps we can spotlight a more in-depth look! As for what was in my suitcase, you can probably tell from the top layer that I really focused on colorful swimsuits, classic tees, and yellow shorts. Underneath, I packed flats, running shoes, a change of workout clothes, a pair of jeans, and two knit sweaters.
Marisa-Tom Marisa-Tom 5 years
 @chippochic Try putting your shoes at the very bottom of the suitcase and treat it like a puzzle, making sure everything fits into each other. Also, I really battle with shoes — ultimately, I try to choose pairs that can do double-duty rather than bring more than I need. As for beauty products, I bring all travel-size or pick up the essentials at my final destination. :)
chippochic chippochic 5 years
How do you take cosmetics, skin care, shampoo, etc on carry on?   I wish I could travel light but the shoes alone take up so much space.  And then there are the purchases!  Last trip to LA I had to buy another suitcase to bring the shopping home.  However, I do roll, find it so much better than flat packing.
Guest44989 Guest44989 5 years
I wanted to see exactly what you packed!
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