One carry-on (slightly smaller than standard size), one book sack, and one small cross body purse (this one). Yep, that’s all we brought for two people, for one week of travel.
Here’s the thing, we don’t check luggage, if for no other reason than we hate waiting at baggage claim. So when we started preparing for our trip, I knew we needed to fit all of our belongings into carry-on suitcases. When we decided that we would be taking the train from the airport into Manhattan, I made it my mission to fit everything we needed into one carry-on. I’m being way too serious. It wasn’t that difficult, and it was kinda fun! It’s like Tetris for adults! Love me some Tetris!
The only thing that made this even remotely possible, was having the right suitcase. Friends, I have been converted to the hard side of suitcases. I always rolled my eyes at paying extra just to have a shell on your suitcase, but these things are legit! We purchased this guy….
…at Tj Maxx for $60, after our other carry-on ripped while I was in California. $60 is more than we wanted to spend, but the compartments inside the suitcase are what really sold us. (Also, I totally fell in love with the navy + white accents.)
This is where I put my clothes, make up, curling iron, flat iron, laptop charger, phone chargers…
This is also what made this suitcase so great. Unlike cloth suitcases, that have a shallow mesh pouch for secondary storage, this was almost like having a second suitcase! It wasn’t as deep as compartment #1, but it was pretty darn close. This was Michael’s side. Clothes and a belt were pretty much the only thing he had going on here.
I don’t think this was really intended to be used as extra storage, it was very shallow, but it was a great place to store 2 of the 3 pairs of shoes that I brought on the trip. I put my red flats and my flip-flops in here. (The third pair were sneakers, which I wore my sneakers on the plane.)
Now, the other key to pulling this off, was packing wisely. I made sure to choose a neutral color scheme, with pieces that would easily mix and match. I had: 4 tops, 6 bottoms, 1 swimsuit, and pj pants + a t-shirt for sleeping. Michael had: 6 shirts, 5 bottoms, swim trunks, and pj pants. We also had a sufficient amount of undergarments and about 3 pairs of socks each.
Here’s a little montage of what we packed and how it paired with the other items we packed:
4 tops + 6 bottoms = 21 potential outfits
6 tops + 5 bottoms = 22 outfits
(not counting his green swim trunks)
Kinda crazy that we could get that many possible outfits out of so little, right? We each wore one outfit on the plane, so it wasn’t actually taking up room in the suitcase. To save even more room, we also wore our bulky shoes on the plane. As mentioned, I put my flip-flops and red flats in the suitcase; Michael wore his sneakers on the plane and put his flip-flops in his backpack. By the way, the red flats were great for adding color to an otherwise neutral wardrobe. I also layered two necklaces and wore those on the plane; so they didn’t get packed (i.e. tangled), but I could wear them separately or together with each outfit.
As far as our personal items go, we didn’t shove a whole lot in there, because we didn’t need to. My purse had lipstick, my wallet and my phone. Michael’s backpack had his laptop, flip-flops, and our liquids bag (for easy access). It was nice to have some breathing room, because it left us room for souvenirs. I actually fit 3 more shirts, a baseball cap, and a leather jacket (it’s amazing, so yes, I bought it in the middle of summer) in our suitcase! I did roll the clothes – sort of. I know all the experts say rolling your clothes saves a ton of room when packing, but mostly, it just annoys me; it always comes unrolled! So, I rolled what I could, but didn’t sweat what I couldn’t (e.g. the jeans).
Now, this really only worked because we had access to a washer/dryer at the loft we rented in Asheville. We got so hot and sweaty walking around NYC that there was no way we could wear that clothes again without washing it. Actually, I couldn’t remember before we got to the loft if there was a washer/dryer available or not, so we planned to buy laundry soap and just wash our clothes in the sink if necessary. There did end up being a washer/dryer, but if you don’t have access to that, I really don’t think the sink is a bad option. There are a number of places that sell travel laundry soap that is TSA approved, like this one:
Small enough to throw into a pocket, purse or backpack, and it only costs $4.50! The description says it contains 50 leaves of soap, which you dissolve in water to use as liquid soap. A couple of leaves in a sink full of water, swish things around for a few minutes, then wring it out, hang it over the shower/tub to dry, and you’re good to go!
What do you think? Could packing light work for you? Did any of you catch my Star Wars pun? Have any of you ever tried travel laundry soap?