In my latest travel post I talked about how I prefer to only pack a carry on for literally any destination I ever travel to. This turned out to be pretty shocking to some people, and lots wondered how I do it! It was definitely a plan of mine to address this topic at some point on my blog, and so here we are. Once upon a time there was even a video of me packing a carry on for Europe for two weeks, but I had to let go and press the delete button because I had the wrong focus setting while filming. Don’t you love when that happens?
So, without the longest introduction ever, here is EXACTLY (exactly) how I planned my two weeks in Europe in a single Ricardo Beverly Hills 21 inch carry on.
1. I Only Took Travel Size Products
If you’re bringing a carry on most people know by now that you’re only allowed 3.4 oz of each liquid product anyway. So this is one you really have no choice with. Bring travel size everything. I even brought smaller cotton rounds than I normally do. You can find some amazing travel size products for skin, makeup, and hair in the stands at the Ulta checkout. Those little stands were my lifesaver! I was able to find travel size dry shampoo and high end shampoo and conditioner. Stock up on a few empty bottles from Target for 99 cents to empty products in to that you cannot find in a travel size.
2. I Booked an Airbnb
This one isn’t obvious, but the best way to avoid the bulk of a suitcase is getting an Airbnb where you already have amenities you don’t need to bring. I always make sure the Airbnb I book has a hair dryer available. Hair dryers are so huge and can take up a ton of room. Just ditching this one item gives you room for an extra pair of shoes. Lots of places will also provide body wash and other products. Of course, the biggest reason Airbnb is a great choice is for the laundry. This is an option most hotels just do not have and it will save you a TON of room in your carry on. I am partial to using Airbnb for the laundry, price, and overall experience.
3. I Took an Old Pair of Shoes
Okay this little tip I didn’t actually discover until my latest trip to Krakow and Prague. I inadvertently packed a pair of shoes that were probably on their last leg anyway. They were my favorite and (turns out) most comfortable pair of shoes while I was in Europe and I nearly wore them every day. While packing my carry on for the trip home I was having trouble fitting a new pair of sandals I purchased from Zara, so I decided, why not just chuck these old boots and give them a grand Czech burial? And so I did! Truth is, I probably would have tossed them back home anyway. They were demolished and I had gotten three good years out of them. So next time you pack a carry on, try taking a old pair of shoes to make room for the way back.
4. I Packed a Bag in a Bag
This is one of my favorites. I am never really scared the airline will lose my luggage on the way home. For some reason the thought of lost luggage beginning a two week stay abroad absolutely terrifies me. For me the carry on process is much more important on the first leg, so sometimes I check my bag on the way home depending on what I’ve bought (I love to shop). For this reason, I always pack a large fold-able bag in my carry on. That way I can check my carry on if need be, and then I can carry the other large bag as my carry on, most likely full of stuff I purchased. I am talking something like this that can be completely folded or rolled up. You don’t want anything leather or hard to fold. A bag within a bag will change your shopping life abroad!
5. I Chose Three Bottoms, No Matter What
Jeans can take up a lot of space and weigh a lot too, which is something else to also consider. I only brought three pairs of jeans to Europe for two weeks. I could have brought two pairs of jeans and a pair of shorts, or a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, and a skirt depending on where I was traveling to. I was traveling in the colder months so I chose all jeans. If you chose an Airbnb you can wash your bottoms at any time so you won’t need any more than that. Still, you’ll be surprised after you stack three pairs of jeans how much room they take up.
6. I Brought Stuff I Loved, Not Stuff I Liked
You only have so much room, so you have to be selective. Before bringing that necklace or blouse, ask yourself “can I see myself wearing this and not getting sick of it?” If the answer is yes then it’s mostly likely something you love and you should bring it. Also ask yourself, “is this item versatile?” Can you wear it with more than one thing or more than one way? These are all things I thought of before I decided on items on I wanted to bring (specifically tops, accessories, and jewelry).
7. I Packed a Carry On Within a Carry On
Really. I did this too. I didn’t want my purse to be my carry on, because where the hell would I store my laptop that I would blog from? And what about my book that I wanted to read? No Kindle here. Also, I didn’t want to bring a large purse to lug around Europe, as they can be quite impractical. So I opted to take a tiny over-the-shoulder Fossil bag as my purse which I could fit in a large tote bag, which would then become my other carry on or ‘personal item’. Total in my large Tote Bag (like this) I was able to fit my computer, small purse, hardcover book, portable phone charger, umbrella (always be prepared kids), scarf, snacks, a bottle of water, passport wallet, sunglasses, regular glasses, a small cosmetic bag for freshening up, and my jacket if I needed to store it. And breathe…
8. I Had to Make the Difficult Shoe Choices
…one should never have to make. I could only fit two pairs of shoes in my carry on, and one pair I wore on the plane. I opted for a pair of trusty shoes I knew were comfortable, fashionable, and went with everything. Then I brought an Adidas Superstar and a more fashionable pair of boots. Nothing on this list had a high heel. It’s difficult, but you can find really cute shoes that are comfortable and don’t have a heel. I opted for a more fashionable sneaker as well. Never once did I feel like I looked like a tourist, and that was validated by the fact that people kept assuming I spoke Polish.
I know a lot of you ladies think that a carry on for two weeks in Europe is just not possible. I actually never would have thought it was either! As I age and continue to travel I am noticing myself valuing more things other than my clothes or my looks. I want experiences. You don’t need a large suitcase to have a great vacation. Maybe you just need a partner in crime, a little mascara, and a bag in a bag. #carryonlife
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