Hi, I’m Lauren

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How to Pack Everything in a Carry-On Bag

How to Pack Everything in a Carry-On Bag

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To be honest, I can’t believe I’m even writing about how to pack everything you need in a carry-on.

  1. Because never in a million years did I think I could do this…

  2. As a fashion blogger it is even harder to do this, as most trips are used to shoot a ton of content.

BUT I will say it kind of gave me a Marie Kondo type of feeling in the sense that I wasn’t weighed down with tons of clothes or overwhelmed with what to wear, because I planned for everything – with a little wiggle room of course 😉  LESS SPARKS JOY, I’m telling ya!

In February we went to Mexico City with some friends – yes, I’ve been trying to write this post since I got back (2 months ago!). Honestly, I was in awe of myself/kind of in shock that I actually did it. (Not to toot my own horn LOL) We were traveling stand by, so it was in our best interest to only use a carry-on, but in reality, we were only gone for 3ish days so we didn’t need too much. I only used a small suitcase and my backpack and I SURVIVED. Not just that, but I thrived. Too often, I had half a suitcase of items I didn’t actually need and they just took up space / were never worn. It also made me stressed, because I brought items to shoot and then ran out of time. I’ve become much more intentional about my packing in general, so I thought I’d share my philosophies with you, in case you suffer from these same struggles too! Not to mention, bag fees are only increasing in cost, so here’s to saving money and being less stressed!

Daily Ritual Long Sleeve French Terry Shirt | Madewell Jeans | Silk Scarf | Vince Warren Slip On Sneakers | Ilia Rosette Lipstick

Side note - the shirt I’m wearing here is one of my favorites! I have it in grey and black, but the olive just came back in stock and I’m going to grab it. I love traveling in it because it’s so soft and comfy! For under $50, you can’t beat it!!


Think about your trip  -  It sounds silly, but do it! What does the itinerary look like? Pool all day and dinner at night? Day trips with a small break, then dinner with everyone? This will help determine if you need 1 outfit per day or 2.

Talk to your travel companions  –  What are they going to wear? There’s nothing worse than packing too little and not being on the same page with everyone else. Or maybe it’s just a girl thing? Nick says he doesn’t ever feel that way… But for our Mexico trip last year, the only bottoms he brought were his swim trunks!! I digress. For this specific CDMX trip, I chatted with the other girl and we decided pants for most days and then a dress for one nicer dinner. We were on the same page and I felt good about my choices!

Research the area – Traveling to Mexico City is not the same as traveling to a resort in Cancun. It has a different feel and is a lot more conservative. Look into the culture you are about to visit and make sure you aren’t drawing attention when you shouldn’t be – it’s your best bet for safety!

Check the weather  — No really! The first time I ever went to San Francisco, I packed like I was going to San Diego. Who knew you could be somewhere sunny, yet cold in July?! There’s a reason my post What to Wear in San Francisco is one of my most popular posts. Hah! Anyway, this will help you decide if you need a jacket, etc, so do it.

Travel size it up – I have travel sized pill boxes and empty silicone bottles that I can put products in, but one of my favorite things to do is get the actual travel sized item and just fill it up from my full size beauty product. Travel size items are “cute” and usually have a “not so cute” price attached, so buying travel sizes of things you already have can help you cut down on refill costs! You can also go and get samples from Sephora and use those too, depending how long your trip is/they have your product!

Practice versatility – How can you wear an item more than once and make different looks? Think of your suitcase as a capsule collection and make sure you can re-arrange most of it!

Take pictures of your outfits – I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t. I got the idea for Kathleen Barnes of Carry Bradshaw Lied. This kind of goes hand in hand with practice versatility. I used to make lists of my outfits, but pictures are so much easier, plus you can literally visualize it! When I didn’t know what to wear, I would just reference my phone. PLUS I didn’t pigeonhole myself into assigning certain outfits to specific days. I felt like I had the freedom of my closet, but on the go!


I will say, check with the airline with which you are flying, because some of them have different rules. Educate yourself and make sure you are within protocol! I have gotten on fights with people before, because their website said one thing and their gate checker said another. Here are my faves:

Delsey Luggage (blog post on it here)

Dagne Dover Backpack (blog post on it here)

Cuyana Overnight Bag (blog post on it here)


VACATION: Mexico City in February for 4 days, 3 nights using Delsey Carry-On + Dagne Dover Backpack

6 Tops: t-shirt, s/s sweater, l/s sweater, off the shoulder blouse, ruffle blouse, workout top

4 Pairs of Shoes: black sandals, brown loafers, platform sneakers, tennis shoes

3 Pairs of Pants: jeans, black jeans, leggings

2 Jackets: denim jacket, black denim jacket

3 Bras: strapless, regular, sports bra

1 Dress: knit midi dress

1 Scarf: could be worn as a poncho or a scarf

1 Purse: small crossbody

1 Swimsuit: Bikini Top and Bottom

Accessories: 1 bandana scarf, 1 pair of statement earrings, 1 pair of basic earrings, 1 necklace, 1 pair of sunglasses

Toiletries + Makeup + Socks + Underwear


WORK TRIP: Fayetteville Arkansas for 2 days, 1 night using Dagne Dover Backpack

3 Tops: s/s denim button up, s/s blouse, workout top

2 Pairs of Pants: black kick flare jeans, leggings

2 Bras: regular, sports bra

1 Jacket: Moto Jacket

2 Pair of Shoes: loafers, tennis shoes

Accessories: 1 necklace, 1 pair of earrings

Toiletries + Makeup + Socks + Underwear

One last thing... regarding how it all fits in your suitcase, I’ve tried it all. My favorite has been using the Kon Marie folding method and using old shoe / purse drawstring garment bags to house shoes and make sure the bottoms don’t touch any of my clean clothes!


What do you think? Do you have any tips or tricks that help you pack smarter and lighter, so you can utilize carry-on baggage space? I will say it’s a lot harder to do this for the winter time – boots and jackets take up a TON of space; however, it is possible to pack lighter if you apply these principals and think it through!



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