how to pack for an extended trip in just a carry-on bag

how to pack for an extended trip in just a carry-on bag

Whether your trip is long or short there are some basics you can apply to your packing technique that will make it possible to put if all in a carry-on bag. Seems unbelievable but it's true!

woman packing

For starters, get organized! Essentially, what you need for a week away from home is the same amount you need for 2-3 weeks or even months. Because you wash and re-use! Keep it simple and pack right. 

Everything depends on your destination, and the length of your trip. This list is if you’re going to a warm-ish climate for a week. And it’s different for men and women. BTW, we're not saying you you need these tips because we think you’ve never packed before!  But on getaway day it's nice to have a list where you can cross off items so you don’t forget anything!

Clothing: Men

  • 3-4 T-shirts
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts 
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 1 belt
  • 1 long sleeve dress shirt
  • 1 short sleeve shirt 
  • 6 pairs of underwear / socks
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 lightweight waterproof jacket
  • 1 baseball cap 
  • 1 pair of everyday shoes (everyday)
  • 1 pair of hiking or running shoes
  • 1 pair of flip flops

Clothing: Women

  • 4-5 tops
  • 1 long sleeved shirt, sweater, or blazer (for business trips)
  • 1 jacket
  • 2-3 bottoms
  • 1 dress 
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 2-6 pairs of socks, depending on your trip length
  • 2-3 bras (sports bra and everyday)
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1-2 swimsuits, depending on your destination
  • 1 set of PJs
  • 1 set of workout clothes
  • scarf or shawl


  • phone
  • laptop (if necessary) with protective sleeve
  • chargers for devices and portable USB charger
  • accessories (usb stick, cables, etc.)
  • universal power adapter
  • earbuds

Toiletries / Personal items:

Make sure your liquids are TSA compliant.

  • small reusable bottles filled with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and sunscreen
  • toothpaste
  • pocket laundry wash
  • toothbrush, shaver, comb, deodorant, medications, etc. 

Travel Documents & Money:

  • passport / ID, itinerary, wallet, USD cash
  • ATM card with no fees
  • credit card with no foreign transaction fees 

    Miscellaneous Items:

    • travel pillow
    • travel towel
    • sunglasses
    • eye mask
    • small amount of duct tape or electrical tape
    • first aid
    • water bottle
    • TSA luggage locks
    • zip-lock bags 
    • pen and notebook
    • small bag for dirty laundry
    • drawstring bag
    • book or an eReader 

    Obviously, not all of these items are essential, but if they all fit in your carry-on bag you might find them useful. If you’re worried about stinky clothes, remember that there are affordable laundry services all over the world. Or bring pocket laundry wash. 


    How to Pack Your Carry-On

    • Before you start packing, set aside what you plan to wear for your flight. Wear layers and bulkier items to save space

    • Rolling your clothing will save the most space in your bag and also keep them from getting too wrinkled.
    • Place your shoes inside a drawstring bag to keep other items from getting dirty and you’ll also have an easy beach bag with you at your destination.
    • Rolling up an empty daypack and placing it in your carry-on bag is a great idea if you’d like to have a smaller bag to use at your destination. 

    Comments 3

    Susan on

    I don’t see make-up on this list. Any tips? Thank you Marianne!

    Donna on

    Thank you for the list. Very practical and helpful. Very easy to follow list.

    Mary Spain on

    rollable space bags that you can compress the air out of works as well.

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