How to pack a Carry-On for a Week

Traveling is one of the most wonderful things in the world. Whether you’re spending a week at a lovely tropical resort or getting ready for a European adventure, it’s what many of us dream about on a daily basis. Still, we know the logistics leading up to your departure date can often be overwhelming. There’s so much to have in order, so much to plan, and then there’s the dreaded chore of packing, which can quickly become a nightmare. At the airport, hauling around loads of luggage can also be a source of endless stress. And there’s nothing worse than forgetting to pack essentials or favorites. 

Now, this doesn’t have to be this way. On the contrary, traveling is supposed to be fun, breezy, and exciting. And getting ready for a holiday should feel exactly the same. With this in mind, we put together a simple guide that explains exactly how to pack a carry-on for a week. So lay back, read on, and get ready to learn some seriously simple and useful packing tricks. 

#1 Begin with toiletries. 

Believe it or not, there are certain toiletry items that you should always pack. Here’s a cheat sheet for you. Be sure to bring a toothbrush, small toothpaste (make sure it’s TSA friendly), deodorant, a compact hairbrush, and small versions of your skincare products are ideal, including sunscreen (even if you’re going somewhere cold). Make sure to keep everything in a simple toiletry bag, this will help optimize space and make your life easier when passing through airport security. Pro tip: check in with the hotel you’ll be staying at to see if they provide shampoo, conditioner, a hair dryer, and other daily necessities. Chances are they do, and there’s no need for you to bring those along with you. 

#2 Don’t forget the basics. 

Next, move on to the basics. For instance, start with chic pajamas (especially if you’re traveling with others who may possibly see you in them). Be sure to pack enough underwear, but don’t overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to pack one undergarment for each day and then two or three extras. Socks are also key, and you should be sure they’re weather appropriate (I more on that below). Speaking of the weather, a couple of bathing suits are considered basic pieces if you’re going to the beach or any other place where you’ll be spending time by the water. Thankfully, these won't take up too much space in your carry-on. 

#3 Plan your outfits. 

When you’re packing for a seven-day trip in a carry-on, one thing you don’t want to do is pack a bunch of things and decide on outfits later. Planning outfits ahead of time is something that will save you time and space, so although it might seem time-consuming, trust us, you’re spending a bit of time now to save a lot of time later. Now, when you’re choosing clothes for holidays, you obviously want to prioritize looking chic while also being practical. Don’t worry about choosing a full outfit for each day. Instead, place a few of your favorite items where you can see them, and begin playing around with possible combinations (more on versatile pieces below). When planning these outfits, don’t forget to include at least one outfit for a fancy dinner (even if it’s not in your plans, you never know.), as well as comfortable shoes to keep you feeling relaxed but looking stylish throughout your vacation. 

#4 Consider the weather 

This might sound obvious, but when you’re planning outfits for a week-long trip, the one thing you should always consider is your destination's weather. Sometimes, we get too excited about the outfits we want to wear on holiday without actually thinking about being practical too. If you’re going somewhere warm, you’re going to want to focus on dresses and skirts. If your destination is cold, layering is your number one rule, so don’t worry about packing too many jackets and sweaters at a time. Instead, choose pieces that can be worn together in many combinations to create more warmth without taking up too much space in your carry-on. 

#5 Opt for versatile pieces 

Aside from considering the weather, you should absolutely opt for versatile pieces. We know there are endless options when it comes to vacation clothes for women. What you need are pieces that can be worn multiple times in many different ways. Think chic sets so you can wear tops and bottoms together or as separates; blouses that pair well with skirts and pants; and one or two nice jackets or cover-ups that go with all of your outfits. Again, remember the value of layering when choosing these pieces. If you have a sweater that looks great on its own but also works great over your favorite white shirt, that’s the sort of item you want to bring with you. 

#6 Be smart about the packing process 

Ok, so now you’ve chosen all of the outfits you’ll be wearing during your fun-filled week. It’s time to organize them in your carry-on. If you’ve always packed in huge suitcases and don’t even own a carry-on bag, consider buying one that’s both durable, spacious, and cute (of course), while also keeping up with airport regulations. Once you have your perfect carry-on, a very important thing you want to keep in mind is how to maximize space. Rolling your clothing helps with this, but there are other tricks you can try too. For instance, buying a set of simple packing cubes to organize your garments is a really good idea that will also make the process of unpacking a lot easier. Also, don’t take up too much precious carry-on space by placing large jackets or shoes in your bag. If these are things you can comfortably wear to the airport, definitely do this instead! 

#7 Think ahead 

Last but not least, chances are, you’re probably traveling to a beautiful destination where you’re bound to do at least a little bit of shopping, so keep in mind your carry-on should have some leftover space so you can easily bring some precious mementos back with you. 

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