All neatly packed in my carry on
Travel, Travel Tips & Tricks

Travel Challenge: Packing 7 Days Worth of Stuff into a Carry On and Personal Item

I had quite the challenge the other night. For my Tour de West Coast (which I’m currently on), I’m hitting 4 airports in 7 days. Since I’m traveling, attending two conferences, and taking a couple of days off, I’m going to need a range of clothing options to choose from.

Checking a bag wasn’t really an option for this trip. There isn’t a lot of turnaround time between my flights, as I’m quickly jumping from JFK to PHX to LAS to SAN.

If something were to happen to my bags, I would be screwed.

Checking a bag also isn’t the most frugal option. I’m flying US Air for the first three flights, and they charge $25 per bag!

It’s in the stars, I’m not checking a bag.

As I started to pack, I realized that I had a problem on my hands. A problem that looked like a large pile of stuff.

Pile of Stuff That Needs to Be Packed in a Carry On

It’s actually not as scary as it probably looks. Somewhere, buried deep beneath my clothes is my carry on.

Tackling my pile of stuff was actually pretty easy. My first step was to separate out all of my different items. I put my business clothes in one pile, gym clothes in another, and so on.

Pre-packing organizingHere you’ll find:

  • 2 pairs of PJs
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • Ankle pants
  • 2 pairs of dress pants
  • 1 skirt
  • 3 blouses
  • 1 cardigan
  • 3 camis
  • Gym clothes
  • 1 suit jacket
  • 2 pairs of flats
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • Running shoes
  • Undergarments
  • 2 umbrellas (No, I don’t think it’s going to rain that much. My boyfriend left his umbrella at my apartment.)
  • Toiletries
  • Hair straightener
  • Running belt and iPod Nano
  • Bathing suit
  • Camera and accessories

All of those items made their way into my carry on. Kind of impressive if you think about it.

I also had stuff that was going to go in my personal item (aka the big red purse you saw in the first picture). I generally put my laptop, notebook, wallet, passport, etc. in my personal item.

I used the rolling method to fit everything in my bag. I simply rolled all of my clothes into little tubes and smush them in my bag. I was skeptical about this method until I actually started doing it. I also put my socks in my shoes to help maximize my use of space.

Neatly packed in my carry on

And ta da, you see the end result. Seven days worth of stuff packed neatly into a carry on and personal item.

See, it even closed!

All neatly packed in my carry on

I do want to note that I actually ended up swapping out a few things from my original pile. I removed a dress, sweater and corduroys and replaced them with three casual tees.

I also decided to use a book bag instead of my large red purse as my personal item. I also decided not to bring my travel pillow.

I’ve found that it is way easier to maneuver airports with a book bag as opposed to a purse. Plus, that bag gets very heavy… so I didn’t want my shoulder to get angry at me!

So, there you have it. Seven days in a carry on and book bag.

Now I need to get on with the rest of my trip!

What are your strategies for packing? Do you avoid having to check a bag?


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