Ah, we’re on the brink of fall! I wish I was on an airplane or boat right now heading some place exotic! Fall and Spring are “off seasons” for many places of travel, and therefore a great time to travel. Most travelers will enjoy low airfare, cheaper hotel stays, and less crowds. Pack your bags and go!! What about traveling internationally in a carry on suitcase? Can it be done? It’s it reasonable?
YES! We’ve taken two international trips (Costa Rica in June 2016 and Iceland, Paris, and Italy in June 2017) with just our carry on luggage. Here are my tried and true tips for traveling internationally with a carry-on, and one personal item.
“Fill your life with experiences, not stuff. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”
1. Take items that you can get multiple use from. For outerwear, I took a reversible puffer. It kept me warm and gave me 2 different “looks” when we were in Paris and Iceland. It was no use to me as we traveled the Amalfi Coast of Italy, so light weight option was best for the entire trip. I wore it on the plane so I didn’t have to pack it.
2. For clothing, think capsule wardrobe! Repeat the same colors over and over again so that everything coordinates. For Europe I packed 10 complete outfits. They were: 2 must have dresses and 1 colorful romper (3 outfits) as my statement pieces. Then I packed 3 pairs of pants and 2 tops to match each pant as my everyday outfits. (3×2=6 outfits). I added 1 pair of shorts that would go with any top I chose. (1 outfit) That’s a total of 10 outfits in my suitcase. But dont forget I also wore another complete outfit on the plane, so I really had 11 outfits and my favorite hat! Yeah baby!
Once in Europe, all I had to do was wash our clothing once a week. Tide laundry pods are great for this! 6 pods double packed in ziploc bags was all we needed. Fancy right? Be sure you have access to a washer and dryer wherever you go. We love to stay at AirBnB rentals for this reason. It’s great to have a home away from home. (Use our code: Jason30 for a discount with AirBnB.)
3. Don’t forget your swimwear and under garments. One swimsuit and swim cover packed inside a wet swimsuit bag has been my goto for travel. 12 undies (1 worn on the plane) 3 bras (1 worn on the plane) is easy to pack. I keep it simple by packing all black items. This way everything matches…so I’m just that kind of girl!4. Jewelry & Accessories are a must! They are the exclamation mark of your outfit! I took 3 Kendra Scott jewelry sets: gold set, silver set, and black set. I wore the black set on the plane. By having so many combinations I was able to have a different “look” for each destination. Throw in a light weight scarf for added style or to fight the chill of the air conditioner! Top everything off with your favorite pair of gold or silver sunglasses for a chic look.
5. Be classy by matching your shoes and bags. I love shoes, but I keep it simple by limiting myself to 3 pairs when traveling. Save space in your luggage by wearing your bulkiest pair of shoes on the plane. For Costa Rica, I brought one pair of dressy sandals, 1 pair of casual sandals, and 1 pair of flip flops. That’s all I needed. For Europe, I had 1 pair of dressy wedges, 1 casual sandal, and my rain boots.6. Keep it classy by matching your shoes to your handbags. If you’re a handbag girl, like me, you may want to match your shoes and bags. My Personal item for the flight, (my Long Champ Le Pilage) doubled as my day trip bag, my black Michael Kors satchel was my everyday bag, and then a smaller Rebecca Minkoff clutch was great for evenings. While in Paris, I purchased the Long Champ Neo handbag. It was the best size for the metro, museums, and touring the Colosseum, and wandering the streets of Rome. Personally, I adore Long Champs because their durability, pack-ability (fold flat), and variety of colors.
7. Toiletries & Shampoo & Medicines are must haves. I purchased the 3 ounces travel sizes from Target. I didn’t run out! I took along mini medications: Advil, baby Tylenol, and Mucinex decongestant. Finding the RIGHT medicine in other countries is daunting, especially if the information is in a foreign language.
8. Lastly, leisurewear is big right now. I pack a sexy little nightgown (for my husband) and a pair of gym clothes (for a more modest option) when staying with others) to sleep in. Taking my workout clothes has been great for unplanned hikes. Anytime you can get more than one use out of an item you’ve really maximized your luggage space.
Before leaving for Europe, I purchased Shack Pack packing cubes off Amazon. Honestly, I didn’t find them to be helpful with compression. 😕 I was miffed. However, they did find them helpful with organization. It was nice not having my luggage explode once I unzipped it. However, I didn’t get the compression I was really looking. So should you invest in packing cubes? It’s up to you. One item that really did work well for me was the universal electrical outlet cube converter. It’s compact, user friendly, and even offers USB ports. Hallelujah! Don’t leave home without it.
Overall, the two keys to traveling internationally with a carry on is: 1) build a capsule wardrobe within your suitcase that repeat the similar colors, 2) and wash your laundry while on vacation! Simple doesn’t mean boring. You need good planning to pull it off. I hope you find these tips helpful and that you have a great time on your next trip. Safe travels to you! So where are you planning to go? Please comment below. I love hearing from you.