How to Pack Using Only Carry-On Luggage

Throughout my whole life, I've always been fortunate enough to travel often.

Growing up, at least once a year, my parents would take my sister and I on a trip. They always wanted us to be able to learn about other people and places firsthand, as well as getting to have family time together (always important). We have gotten to experience different cultures, explore new places, and create new memories.

Carrying on into adulthood, the travel bug has stuck with me. I traveled to more than 10 states/countries in the last year alone. That being said, one thing that I've learned to do quite well is pack for trips.

Most of the time, I can manage to pack all of my belongings in carry-on luggage. In fact, for the 5-day cruise that I'm leaving for today, which I mentioned in my last blog post, I won't be checking a bag. I packed everything I need into my carry-on and personal item.

Sometimes packing takes a little longer than usual when you're trying to practically play Tetris to fit everything in your bag, but taking those extra few minutes is a huge time saver when at the airport. I don't like waiting for my checked luggage to get off of the plane (and I always fear it'll get lost somehow), so if I can bring everything I need in a carry-on, I will.

I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips with you all on how to pack for a cruise only using carry-on luggage. I hope you enjoy!


When you travel with most airlines, you're allowed a carry-on bag and personal item. One goes in the overhead compartment, one goes under the seat. Personally, my favorite carry-on luggage combo is a small rolling suitcase and a weekender bag.

I have a weekender duffle bag by Wit & Delight from Target that I use all the time and it's amazing. It has so many different compartments and isn't heavy at all. On the inside of the bag, in addition to having a lot of room to put your belongings, it has a large padded compartment for a tablet (my MacBook Pro fits perfectly too!), and a medium zipper compartment that fit things like a passport, Global Entry card, keys, earbuds, and a phone comfortably. What I love most about the bag is that it has a lower zipper compartment that you can put your shoes in! It also has a trolly pass-through on the back of the bag and a small outside pocket. It has both a cross body strap and two carry handles. I highly recommend a bag similar to this one!

I recommend investing in a good rolling carry-on bag as well. You can find them at most department stores, and even Amazon. I think this one by Travelpro is nice because it's expandable and will roll in any direction. Just make sure whatever one you get is within most airlines' size restrictions.

IMPORTANT: Make sure to check your ticket before you start packing. If your ticket reads "Basic Economy" you might not be able to bring a full-sized carry-on bag, only a personal item. Each airline is different, but just be aware that there is a difference between "Basic Economy" and "Economy" tickets.


Planning your outfits is the most important step in packing light. If you plan out all of your outfits ahead of time, not only will you not be bringing a ton of excess clothing that you don't end up wearing, but you'll end up wearing the stylish vacation outfits you planned for.

Even as a shoe lover, I have to be strategic about which shoes I bring on vacation. I try to always find a pair of shoes that look good with most of my outfits. Usually when I'm going to some place warm, I'll pack a pair of heeled sandals, a pair of going-out heels, gym shoes, and a pair of sandals for the beach or just walking around. The shoes I wear to the airport are usually my Adidas, or my gym shoes if I want to bring another pair of heels instead.


Since there are a million videos on YouTube about rolling clothing, I'm not going to explain this one too much for you all. Basically when you're packing, tightly rolling clothing, instead of folding, can help cut down on space in your bag. So instead of your clothes looking like folding squares of fabric, they'll end up looking like little cylinders of clothing.

I also like to use empty space to pack socks and underwear in. For example, I'll pack my pairs of socks inside of my gym shoes in my bag, and I'll pack things like underwear in zipper compartments I don't use, or in between "rolls" of clothes. If you are someone that uses a lot of hair ties, I recommend stretching some hair ties over some of the rolls to keep them together (and keep your hair ties from disappearing).


I actually learned this trick from a bikini calendar shoot. We were asked to put each of our bikinis in clear plastic bags so then they could see the style and color of each suit easily. I use this trick when packing because it keeps each suit together and I won't have to go digging through my bag to find the matching bottom. Plus, if any of your suits are still a little damp at the end of your trip, you can put it back in the bag and not have to worry about everything else getting wet.

I like to lay all of my plastic bags that my bikinis are in on top of all of my clothes/shoes when I'm done packing them, this way, if I put any liquids into my carry-on luggage and they open, they'll only get on the plastic bags, not all of my clothes.


I pack a lot of stuff into my personal item. Especially when going on vacation to a warm place. I've put some photos below for you to see what exactly I put in my bag, and put a few tips in the captions.

A few other things in my personal item I didn't include in the photos were my purse, a small canvas beach bag (I wrapped my mirror in it to keep it cushioned as well), pens, Global Entry card, and my personal phone.


It sounds corny, but the last thing you'll need for any trip is a good attitude. You're about to go somewhere new and exciting. Small frustrations may happen along the way, but it's all part of the journey. Just focus on the positive and be thankful you get to travel (and not have to wait at baggage claim for your luggage if you followed some of these tips)!

That's all I have for you today! I'm going to finish tying up some loose ends and then I'll be off to the airport to head to Houston, TX and be one step closer to my cruise to Mexico! Thanks for reading!

#travel #carryon #carryon #baggage #lifestyle #tip #diy #travelhack #cruise #vacation #trip

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