I’m leaving on a jet plane for South Korea and Japan today, with only a roller carry-on and my laptop bag. We’ll be traveling for nearly two weeks.
Boom. Nailed it. Bloody Mary in hand, of course.
I won’t lie — packing can be the bane of my existence. But I’ve found that packing for trips longer than a week actually can be a fun Tetris game of “how the hell are we going to make this fit?”
When we traveled to Thailand and Cambodia years ago, I was warned to only do a carry-on, more specifically a backpack, because it would be easier to navigate. It was so successful that I vowed I’d continue to travel with the beauty that is carry-on only.
I won’t go into a lengthy post (maybe later) about how I roll up my underwear into my shoes. But I will offer a few simple tips that should help you be a carry-on only god or goddess.
So, how do I do it? It’s quite simple.
Choose exactly what you’re going to wear.
Yes, I often take pictures to make sure it works out. And, I mean, I’m cute. Amiright?
No throwing in tops or bottoms because you want options. Obviously clothes with more versatility are best. You know, tank tops that can be worn with or without a button down. Or dresses that can be comfy enough to tour in, but dressed up with a simple scarf. I always, always travel with one white and one black v-neck cotton t-shirt. I can dress them up/down and wear them while jaunting between airports. I usually have 2 pairs of pants, one pair of jeggings/leggings and a simple dress or two. Then tops to mix and match.
The key to packing light and re-wearing things is being able to wash them. Obviously, if you have access to a washer and dryer there’s no need to overpack. But if you’re in hotels or hostels or AirBnbs, just take a couple packs of detergent and scrub those nasty undies. Mine always smell like roses. If you have access to laundry service and it’s cheap, even better.
I also got stuck with a couple more tops than I wanted while packing for this trip, so this time I wrote down just how many options I’d have without bringing 2 tops I was debating. It worked. I think I’ll do this again in the future.
I don’t pack heels.
I know, my fashionista heart just broke. When I traveled for work, of course I would pack them. But on vacation? Nah. This time I have 2 pairs of Tieks flats, my running shoes and a cute pair of sneakers. I wear either the sneakers or running shoes on the plane. Which brings me to my next point.
Wear the bulky stuff to the airport.
I have basically 3 layers on right now. My tank top. My denim shirt. My scarf and coat. The scarf and coat fit in my favorite laptop bag. Plus, I’m wearing my bulkier shoes and thicker pants. That saved a ton of space in my bag. Yeah, I may re-wear this again and again on my flights, but it’s cute and comfy enough that I’m cool with it. Plus, I’m not walking around with “Juicy” spelled on my ass, while carrying my own pillow and looking totally bewildered about how this whole “security line” thing works.
Teeny, tiny toiletries.
How’s that for alliteration? I get all of my products in travel size or put them in travel sized bottles. If I’m staying hotels, I don’t take my conditioner and just use the one provided by the hotel. I like my shampoo and find my hair doesn’t like hotel versions, so that I’ll pack. Other things like deodorant or face wash or zit cream…travel size.
I remind myself that the more room I have, the more fun things I can buy.
I didn’t bring a purse. We have a small, foldable backpack that we’ll carry our stuff in during the day. But, I didn’t want to pack my relatively small purse when I could buy one in South Korea or Japan and have something functional from a cool place!
I also remind myself that I usually can buy anything I forget.
While it’s on the bucket list, I’m not traveling in the desert. (Side note: I really wanted to spell dessert. Dessert sounds awesome right now.) That means I can usually find whatever I’ve forgotten or suddenly desperately need. Now, bras and shirts? I probably won’t find those speciality sizes when traveling, so I make sure I have them in my arsenal. But other things like socks or a hair brush? Eh. If I forget it, I can find it somewhere.
That’s it! It’s really not that difficult and NO you don’t need that 6th shirt to wear. Trust me.
I’ll be updating the blog while we’re away and hope to have a couple posts real-time. I know I’m behind on my Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong trip. Graduating medical school and having the hubster move away in a couple weeks has kept us a bit busy. So I think, for now, I’ll focus on getting South Korea and Japan out in relative real-time and pepper in my trips from before throughout the year. Deal? Deal.