10 Steps To Packing A Carry-on Bag For A Week

by Anna Zalazar

Summer has finally come to New York and in just a few hours I’m off to Florida and the Bahamas. Except for a few out of state trips, I haven’t been traveling that much since I returned from my long trip so I’m thrilled to announce that I’m back on the road again, or should I say sea? I’m going on a cruise for the first time!

I’m feeling the excitement of a first time traveler all over again. I can just remember the first time I traveled and at the same time the kind of stress that any first time traveler can feel while packing.

Sometimes, even experienced travelers can still have this packing stress no matter how long they’ve been traveling.

Last night was surprising because it only took me a mere 20 minutes to pack everything I will ever want and need for my one week vacation. For the first time in my travel history, packing was such a delight!

The most common question still remains: “How do you pack for your travels?”

In this post, I’m breaking down the list of what I’m bringing for the trip plus my packing tips that can help your next packing experience feel as good as possible.

1. Where are you going? What’s the climate of your destination?

Your packing list will depend on the time of the year and the destination that you’re going to. While there is no right or wrong way to pack for travels, the best advice still remain the same: pack light. Since this trip is a summer destination vacation, I’m carrying summer clothes so packing light is a lot easier.

2. What are you bringing? Consider writing down a list.

I’ll be gone for eight days so I need to have a wardrobe for a whole week. Before packing the stuff, think about the types of clothes that you have and want to wear for every day of the trip. Write them all down on paper and number them. This is effective if you wish to travel light because you will see how many items you’ll be carrying and you’ll know specifically what clothes you’ll be wearing for each day.

3. Don’t forget the dress

Whenever a female asks me for my number one tip for traveling light my answer would always be to carry dresses. Every woman who is traveling should always, always have a dress. Not only is it a light and one piece of clothing you can use for a whole day, it also is the best attire to feel very feminine. Whatever season I may be traveling, I simply never go on any trip without a dress. To save yourself time and hassles in packing, bring dresses that are wrinkle free and iron free. This makes packing and drying them easier, should you need to wash them on your trip.

4. A note on jeans

There’s a big debate whether one should carry jeans while traveling or just leave it at home. I love wearing jeans and I carried one with me during my long trip even while I was in Asia. It does come handy a lot of times. But for this trip, I want to travel lighter, skipped it and took denim shorts instead.

5. But what about work out clothes?

Since this is just a short trip and I’m keen on traveling light, I decided to skip on these because it will take up a lot of space. As an alternative to my regular work out, I’m choosing to do light yoga (morning sun salutations), walking and swimming for this trip.

6. Packing cubes are magic

If there’s a secret weapon for traveling light, they are called packing cubes. Packing cubes are the ultimate clothes organizer. All you have to do is roll your clothes, put them all together in the cube and viola, you have a well organized compartment for your clothes. Avoid expanding them too much or they might tear. For my trips, I use Rick Steve’s packing cubes simply because I’ve had these cubes for years and they are still strong. 

7. Toiletries tips

If there’s something that I had the most challenge trimming down for my travels it would be my toiletries kit. I can’t count how many times I was questioned through immigration why I’m carrying such a big kit with a lot of toiletries. During my long trip, toiletries composed almost half of my backpack. But over time, I’ve come to learn to downsize my kit and still satisfy my personal hygiene standards and not check in any luggage.

Most women will have an issue with this especially when traveling by plane. The key is carrying travel sized bottles that you can just discard after use. Sure you can buy random items when you travel but sometimes, some countries (especially in Asia) won’t have the brand that you’re specifically using so I recommend you finding the ones you use but in their travel size.

Sephora has come up with amazing travel sized items for almost every brand they carry and is my number 1 go to resource for my personal needs.

8. Shoes and how many to bring

In fashion,  believe that shoes can make or break an outfit. I believe that the maximum number of shoes that one should be carrying for a week’s trip, no matter what type of travel is 3. The simplicity of having less to choose from is that you’ll always have something to wear for your trip. 

My tip is to select a pair of shoes that will match most of your outfits. Black and earth tones can be easily matched with most colors. My pick for this trip is nude shoes because they can match all of my clothes and are effortlessly stylish. I recommend carrying a pair of heels for dinners or night activities. I’m all for flat shoes and comfort but if there was one thing I missed during my travels it was wearing heels. Unless you’ll be backpacking, don’t skip the heels. And yes you can still travel light even with them.

9. Minimize gadgets

For this trip, I decided to bring three gadgets: my phone, camera and my kindle. This helped me tremendously to travel light because I don’t need to be carrying heavy gadgets and their wires. I brought my journals for writing instead.

Unless you’re on a business trip, I recommend leaving the laptop at home. When you come back it’s still going to be there. So instead of being in front of the computer, why not disconnect, enjoy the company of the people you’ll be traveling with and savor your trip.

10. Travel light

You’ve heard this before and you’ll hear it again simply because nothing is more liberating than traveling light.

I’ve used my gray shoulder bag for most of my weekend trips and since everything fitted for this trip, I’m so happy to be using it for a one week trip!

Whenever you get a choice to choose a smaller or bigger pack, choose the small one instead. Packing light really has tremendous rewards for your time, mental clutter, and enjoying your trip. Trust me that you will still have outfits for your trip.

Choosing to bring a smaller bag will force you to think of only the things that will fit there. I could have easily packed my stuff on my carry on luggage (first picture) but there were a lot of space left. If I was carrying my laptop, that would have been the option. If you have a lot of space on your bag, your tendency will be to pack in more stuff to fill those spaces. I noticed it even with this packing because my dresses are all so light, I ‘overpacked’ and added a few more dresses to my trip. It really filled up the space.

I’d love to hear from you! Is there any new idea that you got from my tips? How are you going to use it for your next trip? Leave me a comment.

Originally posted here.

Anna Zalazar is the rare person who made traveling a part of their life from an early age. She worked in the travel industry for years before quitting her job and traveling full-time, mostly around Asia and Europe. Her website, Annzventures, is full of useful travel tips from what tech gadgets to use to which books she's reading this year. She's been globetrotting for the past 4 years and has a wealth of experience and adventures to share with the world. Make sure to check out her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @AnnaZalazar