How to Pack in a Carry On for 10 Days

packing tips

Happy Hump Day! I am currently heading to the airport with the hubs –  we are kissing Dallas goodbye and heading for Italy! If you’ve been following me on instagram then you’ve probably heard me talk about how we have to pack in a carry on bag. That’s right, we have to pack 10 days worth of clothing and accessories for 10 days in a tiny little carry on.

Being an over-packer, this was an extremely difficult task for me. I’ve spent weeks researching packing tips and gathering tips from friends (yes, I’m a nerd), and think I’ve compiled a pretty good list of packing tips. I think the proof that my tips work is this – I was able to pack 13 outfits, 4 pairs of shoes, my toiletries, and a denim jacket in one tiny little bag. When I showed Travis my bag and all the outfits that I fit in – the ones he laughed at when he saw hanging because he thought there was no way I was packing them all, he was shocked!

My list is by no means the only list out there, it’s simply what worked for me. If you have any tips that I missed I would absolutely love to know them so please drop a line in the comments!


  • The Right Bag – my original recommendation was to get a carryon bag that expands, but after packing in my new carry on bag, I changed this tip a bit – if you can, opt for a bag that has two sides. I don’t know if it’s mental or what, but it seemed as if I was able to organize better and pack more with the option to pack on both sides.
  • Roll & cube your clothes – a lot of people use compression bags to shrink the size of their clothes in their bag, but if you’re like me and would rather save a little, then you’ve got options! For this trip my husband and I used two methods – my husband used our Tumi packing cubes (we’ve had these for forever and use them every time we travel) to categorize and save space and I opted for the roll method. You simple roll all of your clothing into tight rolls and line them up side by side. The rolling method is what allowed me room to pack 13 outfits!
  • Fill dead space – this tip is key – take advantage of any and every space in your bag. We’re talking roll up your socks or panties and stuff them into our shoes, in between toiletries, you name it. Use every single small space in your bag!
  • Know what your hotel will have – I have my parents-in-law to thank for this tip. They called our hotels ahead of time to see what they had available for guests and it turns out that each of our hotels has a blow dryer. Will the blow dryer be as good as my personal one? Maybe not, but hey, it’s one less thing I need to pack.
  • Bring dryer sheets – this is another tip that was given to me by someone else – bring dyer sheets and after you’ve worn an outfit, fold a dryer sheet into it so that when you pack your dirty clothes next to your clean ones, it won’t smell up your whole bag and everything in it.
  • Mini everything – it’s a pretty common tip to bring mini shampoo and conditioner, but if you can, go “mini” on more than toiletries. For example, instead of bringing my regular straightener, I’m bringing my mini straightener to save on space.
  • Bring a big handbag (or backpack) – while my hubby is bringing a backpack, I opted for something a bit trendier. I will be bringing my Lipault Paris medium weekender as my second bag on the plane – it is massive y’all and can expand too, so in addition to my books and regular purse items, I’ll be packing any extra clothing or toiletries that wouldn’t fit into my carry on bag.
  • You don’t have to bring everything – know what you can buy there for cheap. For example, I opted to not bring any rain gear and if it rains while we’re there I’ll simply buy an umbrella or a poncho. No need to take up extra space in my bag!
  • Rewear clothing – whether you’re rewearing an entire outfit or simply wearing a pair of jeans more than once, plan on repeating some of your clothing items to help save space. For example, I packed one pair of white jeans and 3 tops – therefore, creating 3 separate outfits.
  • A pair of shoes to go with everything – bring shoes or a pair of shoes that will go with everything. For example, I’m bringing one pair of white sandals and one pair of nude wedges to go with all my outfits.
  • Statement jewelry – when you’re repeating outfits, change up your look by wearing them with different accessories.


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carry on bag: nordstrom | weekender: lipault paris c/o | hat: hinge | slides: agl | dress: everlane c/o | crossbody bag: elaine turner c/o

photography: fort lion studio

A big thank you to the following brands for sponsoring products for this post – everlane, lipault paris, & elaine turner.