A few weeks ago, I posted a blog bragging about how I traveled to three different countries with three different climates, and three different sets of activities … with only carry on luggage. It was a true challenge, and ultimately a badge of honour. How did I do it, you ask? Well, I’m happy to tell you, so you can do the same. I got lots of tips from some of the travel experts I interviewed for Three Trips Ahead, my podcast available on the Frequency Podcast Network. I also consulted with my sister, who is super fashionable and always on the road – right now, she’s in Szentendre, Hungary, no doubt impressing the goulash out of the Hungarians with her impeccable style. Finally, I went through the motions of packing a bag for an imagined 2 week trip and photographing it JUST FOR THIS BLOG, so you can see what I’m talking about. You’re welcome.




First of all, you have to have the right bags. I would recommend buying the largest carry-on roller/spinner permitted on international flights, which would measure 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels. Some smaller, regional airlines might not be able to accommodate these, in which case you will have to check it, or at least gate check it, but it’s still worth it in terms of ease of getting around. When you bring it on board, stow it in the overhead bins above the windows. Often, they are a little bit bigger than the ones in the centre.

Secondly, you need a carry on duffel bag or backpack that can fit under your seat (18 inches x 14 inches x 8 inches, or 22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm). This is your personal item, and ladies (and some men), your purse or handbag will go IN this. More on this later. The personal item will ideally have a flap that fits over the roller/spinner, so you have one sleek package to tote around (in addition to your own fine self).

There’s a debate over rollers versus spinners. Spinners have 4 wheels, and are easier to manoeuvre, but 4 wheels are twice as likely to break down as 2 (math skills!) and rollers are better on rough terrain. It’s up to you; I prefer spinners. My preferred brand right now is Away luggage, which you can buy online. They’re not sponsoring this or anything, although they are welcome to 🙂 Their bags and suitcases are super light and really well made for the money. Plus, they come with accessories like ejectable charging batteries and AC adaptors, and they come in 10 colours. I have the Bigger Carry-On and the Everywhere Bag in navy blue.

Hello Away! I love your products! Free endorsement right here!


While the goal here is to travel without checking your baggage, the rules may not apply on your trip home, after you’ve possibly done some shopping.  After all, it’s not as big a deal if your luggage is lost and/or delayed on the home stretch. This is why I pack a fold-up bag that slips into my luggage. This bag can double as a beach tote or an extra carryall while on vacation, and provides a way to bring home the goodies you bought while abroad.


The big one fits in the little one, and the little one doubles as a mini shoulder bag.





Obviously, this is key. You can start by laying out everything you want to bring, and cutting it in half. In quarters, if you have to. Start two or three days before you are leaving. Try on every outfit you have planned, and weed out anything that is remotely redundant. The rule of thumb for a 2 week trip is 4 bottoms and 8 tops, but I would shake that up by suggesting you consider dresses, particularly in summer. Dresses are far more flexible that you think: they pack easily, can be worn anywhere day and night, with boots or platform runners, and almost always look right. Everything you pack should be comfortable, especially shoes. There’s no point traveling somewhere if you can’t move around easily on foot, if only to walk to a restaurant for dinner. Colours should be relatively neutral, so you can mix and match. Bring jeans, a jacket and/or a sweater, but wear those heavier items on the plane. Here’s what I packed for a two week vacation that consisted of sailing in Croatia, shopping in Istanbul, and socializing in London:

5 dresses: light blue, dark blue, white linen, green dress (long) and a striped onesie

2 pairs of shorts

3 pairs lightweight trousers (cotton and linen)

3 tops and T-shirts

1 long sleeved white linen shirt

2 bathing suits

1 striped coverup/sundress

4 pairs of shoes: 2 pairs of runners, one pair of flip-flops, one pair of wedge sandals

1 nightgown with matching lightweight robe

1 pair shorty pyjamas (for pillow fights)

1 ivory lightweight wool wrap

Underwear (giggle)

Foldable straw hat

Cosmetics/ Ipad/chargers/headphones/book/fold-up bag/small clutches

Everything you see will go into the carry on. With room to spare. I poop you not.


On the plane, I wore loose fitting jeans and a t-shirt, a linen blazer and running shoes.

Jacket: Cop Copine/Jeans: Hidden Bee/ Scarf: Telo/ Shoes: Russell & Bromley.




I packed all my clothing in the hard-sided carry-on, and everything else in the Everywhere Bag. I used packing cubes, and this, for me, is a game changer. Packing cubes are not necessarily cubes; they are usually rectangular, and I use three, as they fit perfectly into my suitcase, with room leftover for shoes. I rolled up just about everything. and packed it into the cubes; the more snugly you do it, the less it wrinkles. Some people pack mini-steam irons, but I didn’t feel I needed one, even with all the linen. It was humid, and once I hung stuff up, it straightened out on its own. You can organize your cubes any way you want: you can pack city clothes in one, sports clothes in another, which is what I did, or organize by destination, especially if the climate changes. Larger or bulkier items, like jeans or sweaters, can be packed separately on top of the cubes, but I try to keep it light, or, as mentioned, wear heavier items on the plane.

Toes are mine. I hope.



These will go into your duffel or backpack, and here’s where you have to be as strict as possible. First of all, get a decent toiletry bag or dopp kit, ideally with a plastic lined interior.  I have one that unrolls and hangs on a hook – love it. I try to buy travel sizes of everything I use. I never hesitate to ask for as many free or trial samples as they will give me at the cosmetics counter. I also use travel containers for anything else, like shampoo or moisturizer. There is no need for full size anything, and some places are stricter than others, so make sure you are in compliance. Pare your make-up down to the bare minimum, and use multi-purpose products, like wipes and moisturizers. Don’t forget medications, if you take any. Take all your gels, creams and pastes, and make sure they are all under 3.4 ounces or 100 ml. Then put them in a quart or litre sized plastic zip-locked bag – just one. Everything has to fit, and you should have it ready to present when you go through security. The non-liquids can go in the toiletry bag. This is just for air travel. You can re-organize when you get to your destination.

This is everything. Except my glasses, which I will wear on board if it’s an overnight flight.


I have very short hair, so I don’t bother with brushes or blowdryers.  If you have to have both, just know they’re going to take up a lot of real estate, especially the blowdryer, so count on your hotel or airbnb to have one, or be prepared to do without.

I don’t travel with much jewellery or accessories. I know people that do, because they don’t take up much room, and they can change up an outfit, but I just like to keep it simple. I wear stud earrings, one necklace, my watch and my rings, and I try not to take them off. I will admit to bringing two pairs of sunglasses: one city pair, and one sporty pair.

I also bring a travel towel, a Turkish towel known as a peshtemel. It’s lightweight, absorbent, and can be used as a wrap or a beach blanket. Mine looks sort of like this:


This is not mine. Mine is in the wash.



Finally, I don’t bring a purse. Just a clutch, or a mini bag, that I put in my Everywhere bag. Remember, you are limited to two on board items, so you want to double up. Go through your wallet beforehand, get rid of any credit cards or receipts, and pare it down to something that will fit in a small pouch or bag, along with your phone and your passport. I find I manage just fine with these:

Clutches to clutch, for ladies who lunch


And … that’s it. I am all packed up with nowhere to go, for now anyway. But when I do take off, I will be as streamlined as can be. Let me know what you think of all this, and if you have any tips of your own to pass on. Happy travels, and may your luggage be as light as your heart.


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