With checked-baggage fees on the rise, more and more of us are bringing our belongings with us as our carry-on item. But, when we have 1-2 weeks to pack for, we are left to give in and pack the big suitcase lugging it with us to and fro. Over the years, I have learned how to pack and best use the items I am packing for over a week - and still have extra outfits, undies, and other accessories! I have also figured out how to make the best of my curvy wardrobe by taking up un-used space for packing even more goodies in places like between my large bra cups.
Ever since I learned a valuable lesson in traveling with way too much luggage on a 1.5 week trip to England, I have stuck with the below and it has greatly reduced my anxiety with frequent traveling. Yes, I was that girl with the 3 pieces of luggage and regretted it every flight of narrow stairs I took and every car I loaded.
This post is showing examples of what I have packed for a tropical trip, but I have used the same methods for packing a 2-week trip to Scotland in the fall into a single carry-on - and it all fit! Even with being a plus-sized woman (larger body = more fabric to cover my curves).
If you really focus in on the essentials, put a plan together, do a couple practice runs and just have fun with it all - you too can do this!
The CurvesWithKicks 5 C's to Packing!
COORDINATE, COMPRESS, CONSOLIDATE, CARE-FREE & CARRY-WEAR
2) COMPRESS Every inch of space is critical to packing for this period of time so ROLL ROLL ROLL and STUFF STUFF STUFF! Use packing cubes or compression bags to help consolidate space. Use empty spaces like between large-cup bras or inside your shoes.
3) CONSOLIDATE Pair down to essentials. We are all guilty of not using about 25-30% (or more) of what we end up packing for our trips. So get your system down and bring only what you need to make every item count! Ditch that umbrella for the just-in-case moment - you can buy one on the cheap when you are there if your accommodations do not already provide you with this for free.
4) CARE-FREE If you can, ditch packing bulky personal care items and purchase when you get to your destination (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, sunscreen). This will be less of a hassle when going through security, too. I typically only pack my specialty face cream, deodorant, a toothbrush, razor and travel toothpaste. That's it! Everything else my hotel will provide or I can easily purchase at the airport upon arrival or at a nearby shop to where I am staying.
5) CARRY-WEAR Wear your bulkiest clothing items onto the plane as removable layers. The sneakers you need to bring, the puffy coat required for your trip, the sturdy denim jeans... try to wear these item for the plane ride and politely tuck any unwanted layers above your carry-on bag in the bin above for the flight.
Planning is everything when it comes to traveling and being mindful to what you are packing. For me, I start the process about 3-4 weeks prior to departing for places I haven't traveled to before.
I start with writing down columns for each day, and if I know of any scheduled activities, I write those down as well and think about what is needed to wear for those events.
Then, I scan through my closet and pull out my key items I want to bring, trying to aim for a color scheme/aesthetic that is consistent for the trip. From there, I write down these items by outfits per day. And then I edit - removing items I don't need, or figuring out holes that I need to fill by purchasing new items or digging thru my closet.
About 1-2 weeks about I do a trial run of packing to see if it all fits. And then I continue to edit down as I really focus in on essentials and also track weather systems as I get closer and closer to the trip.
Have you been eyeing an Away luggage piece but just couldn't pull the trigger on the price tag? I have been "adding to cart" several times this past year and still haven't checked-out. One day at Target, I stumbled upon this blush pink carry-on hard case luggage very similar to the one I have been eyeing on Away. Although it doesn't have the portable charging device built-in, I do find that many of the features are very similar to the higher priced item. So, for $85 I picked up this beauty by American Tourister and I am in love! It has a locking adjustable handle, retractable handle on the side of the bag, eight airflow spinner wheels, and a 1.5" mid-section expander.
Images above are from AmericanTourister.com
Here are some tips on what to (or not) pack.
1) Stick to a simple color palette that allows you to interchange your clothing items each day. For my trip to Hawaii, I am sticking to dark neutrals like black and navy, with a pop of blush pink/coral. This allows me to make coordinated outfits that I can repurpose items for a different outfit the next day.
2) Don't pack more than 1-2 pairs of denim - they are bulky and you can wear a single pair over 2-3+ times during your trip.
3) Build your options in lightweight, easy-to-pack tops and layering pieces and only bring a couple of bottoms and dresses
4) Stick to a single jacket (if needed) and just one sweater/cardigan/wrap as your layering pieces to tie it all together and to layer your looks
5) Wear your bulkiest footwear onto the plane and pack those flat/lightweight sandals or other footwear into your carry-on luggage or your personal item (backpack, purse or tote bag)
6) Don't pack much jewelry, if any (especially your expensive pieces). I will typically just wear a simple pair of studded earrings and those will work with everything I wear throughout the trip.
7) Always pack extra undies (1-2 extra) - this is something I do splurge on space for. I usually carry the extra pair or two in my personal tote/backpack.
8) Your personal tote/backpack is prime space for the emergency items! I typically will have a medium backpack that I use as my personal item to put under the seat in front of me during the flight. This helps me feel prepared in the case I am required to check my carry-on for any reason. In it, I pack...
*Extra 1-2 pairs of undies
*Extra lightweight outfit
*My toiletries (also to help for easy removal for security)
*My entertainment bag + book for the flight (see my top 8 items to take on the plane blog post)
*My accessory bag with sunglasses
*2nd pair of sandals
What I will wear on the flight:
1) Super comfy black knit jumpsuit
2) Denim crop jacket
3) White sneakers
4) Comfy bralette
The Key Looks
There are several items not pictured I have packed into my carry-on that equip me with enough options to cover just about 2 weeks of travel to a tropical location.
Here is a complete list of clothing items I have packed for my trip to Hawaii (7 nights) with plenty of options to allow for photoshoots and other activities...
*9 pairs of undies (2 pair are packed in my backpack)
*4 pair socks (I would pack same amount as undies if this wasn't mainly a beach trip)
*2 bras (1 padded bra, 1 soft cup bra)
*1 night shirt dress/pajama (not pictured)
*2 swimsuits (pictured)
*2 sarongs (pictured)
*1 swim striped pants (pictured)
*1 swim tunic (not pictured)
*1 pair denim (pictured)
*1 pair floral pants (pictured)
*2 sun dresses (orange floral pictured + black maxi dress not pictured)
*Comfy striped romper (pictured)
*Comfy black jumpsuit (wear on plane)
*2 tanks (both pictured - striped tank, floral tank)
*1 tee (pictured)
*1 lightweight leopard crop top (not pictured)
*1 lace shawl (pictured)
*1 white lace kimono robe (pictured)
*1 packable hooded windbreaker (not pictured)
*Denim jacket (wear on plane)
*2 pair sandals (1 walking sandals, 1 dressier sandals)
*Sneakers (wear on plane)
+Packed my additional personal items and necessities for the trip - see my 13 Items for Going Tropical blog post for details.
I hope this post helps you as you plan for your next adventure and what to pack. With these tips, you can focus more on the fun activities and less about the overwhelming amount of stuff you feel that you need to bring. So, give it a shot on your next trip and comment here to tell me how it went! Happy travels lovies!!