7 Essential Packing Tips for Traveling With Just a Carry-On
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7 Essential Packing Tips for Traveling With Just a Carry-On

If there’s one thing we hate, it’s lost luggage. A way to guarantee that your luggage makes it to your destination is to make sure it never leaves your sight. But how can stylish ladies travel with a single bag when we’ve got our regular #OOTD Instagrams to think about? We chatted with Marie Frei of the blog One Carry-On Travel. She’s traveled the world with nothing but a carry-on (and her purse, of course), from Montreal and Toronto to Austria and South Africa. A New York resident, she took a break from planning her next adventure to share her tips with us for traveling light while looking fresh.

Pack Thoughtfully

Instead of just grabbing all your favorite pieces and calling it a day, there are factors to consider when packing for a week or two away from home. According to Marie, the purpose of your trip is one of the most important factors to consider. Are you traveling for business or pleasure? How will you be getting around town? The second most important factor, she says, is the weather forecast. Be prepared and pack smart, and your bag will definitely be lighter. If you’re looking for a stellar weather app, we suggest Yahoo Weather (free on iOS and Android).

Be Honest in Your Packing

Marie’s second rule for carry-on traveling? It’s important to be honest with yourself while packing to make the most of your limited space. “If you bring your running shoes,” she says, “are you really going to make the effort to go for a run? Then don’t waste space in your bag.”

Pack Just the Basics

Make sure you stick with the basics, like white tees and skinny jeans. Pack pieces that you can get more than one wear out of, but also go together. These practical, multi-purpose essentials will save critical space in that bag. Need to up your basics game? Check out these next-level brands, including AYR.

Choose a Color Scheme

Pick a color scheme for your accessories, packing pieces that work together. Neutrals work best and are the easiest to coordinate to create multiple outfits with the same pieces. “With the addition of jewelry, a scarf, a jacket and heels, it’s easy to create a few different looks with fewer items,” Marie adds. We’re taking visual inspiration from Alicia Lund of Cheetah is the New Black and her awesome army green.

Travel in Your Heaviest Layers

Heading somewhere cold? Is there rain in the forecast? Wear your jacket, your heaviest sweaters or your jeans on the plane. These traveling essentials take up a lot of space in your bag. Plus, it’s always cold on the plane. Style blogger Devon Alana does it right with her sweater poncho.

Utilize Your Purse

Your purse doesn’t count as your single allowed carry-on, so make good use of it. “[My purse] is where I keep my small bag of liquids and makeup, my iPad and my camera,” Marie tells us. “Not only are they important to me, but I also don’t have to dig through my carry-on bag to find them when I’m at security.” This strategy not only saves space, but also time. And the less stress we can experience at the security checkpoint, the better. If you’re looking for a good travel purse, might we suggest the Patchwork Highway Bag from the MOMA Store ($125)?

Choose the Perfect Carry-On Bag

Marie recommends using soft-sided bags when going for the one carry-on strategy, since the overhead bins in smaller planes often can’t accommodate hard-sided bags. “Just make sure the bag stands up on its own before purchasing it,” she adds. “There’s nothing more annoying than lugging a bag that falls over when left unattended.” Marie’s favorite bags? Everlane’s Weekender ($95) and Cuyana’s Overnight Bag ($165), both pictured above.

Where are you taking your carry-on this year? Let us know in the comments!