As I mentioned a few times recently, I’ve been on the GO lately. Like, my life has been one destination to the next and pretty much all over the place. And while it’s so much fun, it’s also a lot of work. But since I’ve been promising y’all another packing post series, I figured this was the perfect time to do another one! Since packing is my j-o-b.
Luckily a few of the trips I’ve been on lately are either short enough or low maintenance enough (like Cancun, I pretty much wore bathing suits the whole time and some other easy-to-pack items) that I can get by with a carry-on. So…today I want to talk about carry-ons, specifically carry on essentials. You know, what you need if you’re only bringing one bag – plus your purse, obviously.
Of course, there are general tips like bringing travel-sized containers and not bringing every single pair of boots you own, but I’ve gotten this down to a science – and there are some other tricks I swear by. And as far as the physical packing, it’s crucial to pack wisely when trying to fit everything in. I talked about packing tips in my first post that would really apply here, so be sure to read this first!
Carry-on Essentials: Clothing
OK so obviously it depends on where you’re going, like to a beach, a work trip, or somewhere cold, but there are things to note either way.
1 pair of pajamas: If you’re going somewhere with a carry-on, you can likely get by with one pair of PJs. Bring something – like a set similar to this one – that you’re able to hand wash in the sink if need be.
1 pair of leggings: No matter the weather, leggings are essential. Wear them to workout, run around town, or just lounge in. They are totally multi-functional.
Shoes: 1 pair of sneakers, 1 cute shoe, 1 thin flip flops: Again, you need sneakers to go with your leggings. You can even wear them with denim too now that it’s in style, so win-win! Also, you need a cute pair of shoes that make you feel good. Whether it’s heels or a pair of booties, choose what makes the most sense to the majority of your outfits or plans. Lastly, a pair of thin flip-flops can really come in handy and are so thin to pack.
Versatile Clothing you can re-wear: Choose stretchy denim that can be worn a couple times or a dress or cardigan that doesn’t stain or wrinkle easily. Get the most out of what you’re packing.
Underwear: bring enough undies and socks for the number of days you’re there. Can’t really skimp here! Use thin socks if possible.
Layering Pieces: Items you can layer (if it’s cold): Instead of bringing a huge jacket, bring a mid-sized one that you can layer over other items. It’ll save you space! Beanies are also a great pack-able option that’ll keep you warm.
Carry-on Essentials: Beauty
The thought of pairing down beauty products to packing minimally is terrifying at first – trust me, I pretty much have a panic attack every time I have to do it – but it’s doable. It just takes a little prep and a little imagination! It’s also kinda nice because it gives you permission not to worry about things like shampoo and every piece of makeup you own. But if you’re planning on carrying-on your bag, then you’ve got to be smart. And you’ll obviously want to make sure your beauty products are all TSA compliant. TSA’s 3-1-1 rule makes it easy to remember: liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container and they must be in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag.
Here’s what I pair my carry-on travel essentials down to when I’m carrying-on my bag:
A curling iron or straighter: Hotels or Airbnbs tend to have blow dryers, so I rely on that or just air dry. But I can’t live without my curling wand, so it’s essential. Unless I’m only going for a few days, which case I can rock some dry shampoo and call it a day. But if I’m planning on sweating a lot or am staying for longer than 2 nights, then I’ve got to bring some hot tools!
Face lotion: I use it for my face and body while traveling if my location doesn’t provide it. It’s just easier than two bottles and face lotion is usually in a smaller size naturally.
Aquaphor: On shorter trips, I usually skip my fancy eye creams and any face hydration creams and use Aquaphor. A little for my lips, around my eyes, and my face stays moisturized without needing everything in my medicine cabinet.
Makeup remover wipes: Way easier to pack than face wash, plus great for the plane. I switch between a few different brands, but I think my favorites are the Philosophy ones (they’re super soft + smell nice!) and the Sephora brand Express Cleaning Wipes (for taking my eye makeup off!). I wish there was an easy way to travel with coconut oil (linked my recent fave!) because that’s actually my FAVORITE way to take my eye makeup off but I can’t figure out how to take it with me in an easy, hassle-free way.
Hairbrush: If I’m really trying to pack minimally, I’ll only bring a wide-tooth comb because it’s so thin. But usually, I don’t go anywhere without a round brush so I can blow dry my hair the RIGHT way and get a longer-lasting blow out (aka make it last longer w/ dry shampoo lol)
Makeup: This is more based on your preferences but try to bring multi-tasking products! To keep all my makeup easy-to-use and travel-ready, I use this organizer I picked up at the container store and LOVE (!) it so much!
Toothpaste (travel size) + toothbrush. Toothpaste is also a great substitute for pimple cream. I promise it works!
Face mask: I don’t always travel with one, but sometimes I’ll throw one in if I know I’ll have some extra getting-ready time on the trip. I love using one to relax before having to get ready or even after a long night out – a nice bubble bath + face mask are one of my love languages. I’m loving several right now, but I just recently used this one by glam glow.
Roller-ball perfume: Love this scent at the moment! And so easy.
Plastic bag: You don’t need a fancy travel bag to put your beauty stuff in, just use a Ziplock that can be re-sealed. Then, pack it in the middle of your bag so it’s safe! But in all honesty, I’ve been using this cute one I found at Ulta ($12) because the ziplock was starting to gross me out and I wanted something a little more substantial + pretty.
Shower Stuff – I use these nifty little travel containers to put my shampoo, conditioner and body wash (because I’m super particular about body wash!)
Carry-on Essentials: Purse or Laptop Bag
OK, so you’ve got your basics covered in your actual carry-on, but thankfully you can also carry a purse. Personally, when I’m traveling with a roller bag, I like to use my lo and sons bag instead of a purse because it holds my laptop and all my in-purse essentials AND it easily attached to my suitcase handle so I don’t have to carry anything on my shoulders. It sorta depends on if you’re traveling by plane or in a car, but I’m going to cover all options just in case. This seems where I need the most items – no matter where I’m going – but luckily everything is pretty small.
- Chapstick – I’ll forever be a huge fan of burt’s bees because I love how the peppermint stuff makes your lips tingle slash feel chilled! It’s so soothing to me!
- A scarf: Yup, even if it’s hot! It’s a perfect pillow or blanket while traveling, then it can be used as a park blanket or a cover-up for a bathing suit.
- Travel doc wallet: I have this one that I carry while traveling because it can fit my passport, credit cards, ID, etc., and it’s a nice place to throw any bag tags. If I’m feeling really prepared, I also make a copy of my passport or ID beforehand and put that somewhere else in my carry-on.
- iPad or Books: Even though I prefer a physical book, I use my iPad when traveling light. I download a movie and a couple of books beforehand. It’s just simple. You can even listen to music on it if your phone is tucked away.
- Headphones + charger: don’t judge me, I’m currently using these headphones because they’re cute (although I’m well aware they aren’t the best quality-wise).
- Pair of socks (if I’m on a plane because it’s always freezing and it’s comfy).
- Pen & notebook because I feel like I always have the BEST ideas when I’m on flights! There’s something about the uninterrupted time and no wifi that always gets my brain going!
- Sunglasses (duh)
- Refillable water bottle
- Snacks…obviously. These come in handy if I’m in a hotel and don’t want to spend $16 on a bag of chips, too.
That’s it! Easy, right?
What packing info would be most beneficial to y’all?
bring little bags to separate all of that in your purse!
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