Packing Series: Travel only with a Carry-On

Packing Series: Travel only with a Carry-On

To travel only packing a carry-on? A nightmare for most girls (and some boys too). But with the rise of budget airlines and increasing coverage of short and medium haul destinations available, the main way to keep travel costs down is to only pack free carry-on luggage.

All of my trips last year involved a carry-on with the exception of my month travelling across the USA. This included two 7 day trips away to Spain/Mallorca and four days in Paris. Yes, Paris. The fashion capital. I didn’t once think to myself, I wish I bought so, so.

The key is to plan in advance.

Carry-On – My Top Tips:

Lightweight Luggage

When it come’s to packing, people only think of the contents of the suitcase. The case is just as important. All budget airlines have a strict carry-on height and weight limit. Invest in a good piece of luggage, that’s lightweight so you have more to fill it with rather than having heavy luggage which eats into the total weight. I’ve had mine for 4+ years and it’s still going strong. Here’s a newer version of mine below:



Depending on seasons, you might get more in for summer vs. winter. Winter for me is a time to be cosy and layer up. My problem usually being I own too many big-knit jumpers and scarves so pull everything out of your wardrobe and go with the this logic:

  • Capsule- my wardrobe is 90% dark, neutral colors. This makes putting multiple outfits together easy.
  • Wear your heaviest items for the flight, you can always take layers off. The last thing you want to be doing is taking out items at the airport check-in!

City Break – Winter
4 days in Paris, I packed:

– Wearing my biggest-knit jumper, black jeans, scarf, coat and ankle leather boots (ultimately my heaviest pieces in each category). Once on the flight, you can always take layers off.

  • Tops; 2 x black tops, 1 x navy, 1 x white
  • Jumpers; 1 x black
  • Dress; 1 x black (can dress up/down)
  • Jeans; 1 x dark denim skinnies
  • Undies; 5 x everything.
  • Shoes; 1 x Nike Internationalists

Beach Break – Summer
7 Days in Spain, I packed:

-Wearing my yoga pants (double up as running/hiking gear), tank top, light jumper and trainers.

  • Tops; 4 x basic tee’s, 2 x tank/vests, 2 x white dressy tops
  • Bottoms; 1 x denim shorts, 2 x normal shorts, 1 x black culottes
  • Jumpsuit; 1 x navy
  • Shoes; 1 x flat sandals, 1 x flatform sandals
  • Dress; 1 x casual, light blue
  • Bikinis; x 2

Packing Method

Roll, not fold. If you’ve heard this a million times before – it’s because it helps and becomes such a space maximiser. And for all those items of clothing that require extra care, folding helps reduce the creasing in clothes vs. folding. Lifesaver when all you have on your travels is an iron which looks like it won’t even handle ironing out silk!



Do you really need your laptop, phone, digital camera and kindle? I’ve managed just fine with my phone (doubles up as a camera), and kindle at most. Straighteners if you must (I’ve stopped using them now for a couple of years, so saved space and slowly de-frizzed my hair in the making). Double-win. You wouldn’t ever leave home without it but your charger, that one small wire that will keep you juiced up and connected to the world on-the-go.


Ok, this one is more important to me. But skincare rather than make-up. Remember it all needs to fit within a 20×20 clear plastic bag. No one item can exceed 100ml. Without further a do;

If you feel better also taking foundation then opt for a mineral/powder based one. It will save on liquids and take up less space.

Can you live without your micellar water, cleaner and toner for a few days? If so, opt for make-up wipes. Plus if you have an exfoliating face wash, & moisturiser packed – that should be enough to keep your skin sorted.



How many bags are too many?

You won’t use all 5 handbags, whether they’re a clutch, tote, cross body, etc. What type of trip are you going away on? The following two have always been enough.

  • Tote bag; my lifesaver. I take my Longchamp medium everywhere. It flat-packs so small so easy to fit inside the case, then primarily use that as my day bag whilst out and about.
  • Cross-Body; small black leather bag. Doubles up as my evening out bag, zipped up to keep everything secure. Use it in the day when I don’t need a large tote.


For me there’s a few things I can’t travel without. So without mentioning the essentials, i.e. Passport. Here’s other smaller items I can still fit in my carry-on. 

  • Eye-Mask – light sleeper. Helps on the flight, helps when there’s no black-out blinds abroad. Done.
  • Ear-Plugs –  same reason, that extra luxury to help me sleep better. Ergo, have a better trip!
  • Mini-fan – for all those times when the temperature is just never right  (or too hot).



Have I missed anything? Drop me a comment if you find this helps!




  1. Alex Cote
    13th August 2016 / 12:35 PM

    Great tips! I also found that rolling my clothes is a huge help! Sometimes it’s kind of a game of tetris and practicing how to fit a lot in a little space!

    • Fee
      14th August 2016 / 9:32 AM

      It is indeed, and a little satisfying knowing how much can fit into such a space!

  2. 13th August 2016 / 11:01 PM

    Great tips! I usually only travel with a Carry on and I’ve downgraded so much that I just very with a normal backpack and maybe one suitcase used for climbing gear (or something special!)

    • Fee
      14th August 2016 / 9:31 AM

      Same my way of travelling has changed over the years. All the better as well! No chance of me loosing my hand luggage or delays trying to grab it off the luggage rail

  3. 14th August 2016 / 4:49 AM

    These are really wonderful tips! And yes, roll not fold! Will be checking out that Nivea moisturizer too…

  4. 14th August 2016 / 5:24 AM

    Very useful post! Especially the skincare section =) I have yet to try an extended trip without checking in luggage though, kudos that you can do it for winter too!

    • Fee
      14th August 2016 / 9:29 AM

      It wasn’t the easiest but a lot of pre planning can get you along way! Give it a go for your next short trip, use that money on your trip. 🙂

    • Fee
      14th August 2016 / 9:30 AM

      Thankyou! It’s all about finding what’s important to you and working around that. My basics are always covered so I know I’m always fine.

  5. 18th August 2016 / 12:38 PM

    I often travel with hand luggage only to avoid excessive baggage fees! Some lovely tips 🙂

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