Packing a carry-on for 2 weeks

Packing a carry-on for 2 weeks

I’ve said this before, but I love the packing stage for a trip. It’s an exciting stage where I start imaging our destination, what we are going to do, and how I’m going to feel. But I know not everyone enjoys this part of travel preparation. My opinion is that traveling with a carry-on can simplify your travel experience. I am currently packing a carry-on for 2 weeks of travel in Italy, so I thought I would share my process!

There are definitely situations where you might not want to travel with a carry-on. For example, maybe you are moving somewhere for an extended amount of time. Or maybe you’re backpacking. In those situations you might need more than a carry-on or you might want to rely on a backpack for travel.

But if a carry-on suitcase is reasonable for your destination, I would recommend trying to make it work. We are preparing for our 2-week Italy honeymoon (check out our itinerary!) and this is how we are going to be traveling. We traveled for 12 days through Croatia with a carry-on and it significantly eased our travel stress.

On the contrary, if you’re traveling for just a few days, maybe you want to travel with just a personal item?! Check out my post on our experience traveling with just a personal item to Cartagena.

My thought is if you’re traveling for a month or less, you can do it in a carry-on!

Here’s my process for packing a carry-on for 2 weeks!

Start with your luggage

The first step is making sure you have luggage that you love! I’m all about traveling simply and affordably. AND sometimes, that means splurging on something that will last you forever. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do for yourself if you want to travel more, is invest in a good carry-on suitcase.

Carry-on suitcase

Personally, I have the Monos carry-on suitcase in Desert Taupe. I love it! It’s a hard shell so it protects what’s inside. It’s durable, has 2 convenient sides of storage, and looks really nice! Don’t get deterred by the price tag. They often have sales. For example, in June there is a “Father’s Day” sale of 15% off.

This is just one example of a carry-on suitcase. Another great company is Away. You can find so many different carry-on suitcases.

Personal item bag

When traveling with a carry-on, I also will pack a personal item. For this trip, I will be bring my Beis Convertible Mini Weekender bag in beige. I wrote about this bag in my post about packing a personal item for Colombia. I love this bag, because it has a bottom compartment that can be zipped off. It’s great for shoes! For this trip, I’m just not going to bring it. This bag will be fairly small and light. But it will also make storage of my water bottle, passport, kindle, and wallet readily accessible.

For a long travel journey, hours in an airport, 7+ hours on a plane, I like a bag that can fit items to keep me busy (like I mentioned: kindle, book, water bottle, chargers, etc.). For shorter journeys I might just use a cross-body bag/purse as my personal item.

Use whatever personal item works for you.

Packing your carry-on luggage

Pick out and simplify outfits

So let’s get packing! My first step is to pick out my outfits. That also includes simplifying. I usually just lay everything out on my bed.

I give myself a rule: I will generally only pack for about 7 days. So whether I’m traveling for a week or for 2 weeks, I will pack the same. I just plan to wear some outfits twice or even three times. When traveling for more than a week, I also plan on doing some hand laundry. This means needing to pack fewer number of outfits and/or underwear.

I always check the weather. We are traveling to Italy in June, so are planning for warm weather, plus a few days of milder weather in northwest Italy.

So this means 4 dresses for daytime wear, 2 pairs of pants, and 4 tops to be mixed with the pants. I also am packing 1 dress for an evening out.

In this phase, I also pick out my travel outfit. It can help you decide if you need to pack less. Can you wear your heavier clothes on the airplane? Can you pack your hoodie in your personal item so that it frees up space in your carry-on suitcase? After all it can get really cold on planes!

And on the point of simplifying: After picking out what I want to wear, I always end up taking away one or 2 outfits after laying things out. I think it’s a good practice to remind yourself to simplify. Only pack what you really want to wear. Don’t pack the “maybe’s.”

Pack the main side of your carry-on: clothes

Once you’ve picked out your outfits, pack your clothes! There’s multiple theories out there about how to pack most efficiently. I roll my clothes up. I find that this is a good use of space and it helps with wrinkles. It also allows me to see everything.

But do what works best for you!

I pack my clothes in the main side of my carry-on luggage.

Pack your packing cube(s)

I usually just use 1 long packing cube. In here I put my underwear, bathing suits, and light pajamas. Again, I usually only pack about 7-10 pairs of underwear to minimize how much stuff is in my suitcase.

Pack your toiletry bag

Next, I pack my toiletry bag. And usually I leave this out until the morning we leave. Because I nearly always end up packing something I still need to use….

The fun part of packing too early 😉

I use a toiletry bag I got from Osea Malibu. I love it!!

One important note here: I usually keep my small plastic bag of liquids in my personal item. At least until we get through security at the airport. The worst thing is to get in line at TSA and then have to dig through your carry-on luggage for a bag of liquids (or electronics).

Once we get through, I may rearrange and put that bag of liquids back into my carry-on suitcase.

Pack the sleeve/zipper compartment

I usually pack this compartment with lightweight, loose things. This includes my chargers, snacks, granola bars, or any paper. I also have a cord for hanging clothes if we want to do laundry. These are just some examples of what I pack in the “sleeve” compartment inside my carry-on suitcase.

Pack the second side of the carry-on luggage

Now I pack up the second side of my carry-on. Here is where I put my toiletry bag, my packing cube, my second pair of shoes, and a hat for the sun.

I where my favorite pair of walking shoes while we travel and then I just pack 1 other pair of shoes (in this case: some stylish yet comfortable sandals).

Close up your luggage

And finally, buckle down your clothes, close up all compartments, and zip up your luggage.

I love to try to make sure it’s not stuffed full. Because in all likelihood, I might accumulate a couple things to take home on the way back. So it’s really nice if there is still space.

Packing up personal item

Like I noted a couple times before, I wrote a more lengthy post about traveling with a personal item only!

For this trip, here are a few things I’m packing in my personal item:

  • little hoodie
  • passport
  • wallet
  • kindle and/or book
  • liquids in plastic bag (at least while going through security)
  • snacks
  • charger
  • water bottle

There are so many reasons to travel with a carry-on. This means you don’t have to wait at baggage claim after a long journey and you don’t risk losing luggage while traveling. It means having more clarity on your outfits each morning. And it will just overall make your travel more simple and streamlined.

I hope you found this post on packing a carry-on for 2 weeks helpful.

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