Travel / Travel Tips

How we Traveled for 3 Weeks in a Carry On


Traveling with a carry on IS THE WAY to go. Most budget airlines charge a high fee for checking a bag and an even higher one if you don’t pay online. Prices normally range between $35-$70 so taking a carry on is a much cheaper option. It’s also a guarantee your luggage stays in your sights. Nothing worse than loosing luggage while traveling and having nothing but the clothes on your back. Especially if you are country hopping and there is no way of knowing where your bags could end up. #nothankyou.

So to keep things nice and real over here, this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I will receive a small commission. It’s how I keep this little site afloat. I ONLY link up things I already own and love! You can read more about how that works here!

Carson and I have mastered the art of the carry on (sometimes we even share just one) and I’m going to share our secrets with you today!




(NOT a carry-on but I couldn’t resist including this little guy. isn’t he the cutest?!)

First things first, get yourself a decent Carry On bag. One that is sturdy and maximizes your space. All of our luggage is from Dakine and I highly recommend it. Originally, DAKINE is a skate brand so their bags are made with skateboard wheels to maximize quality. That means your wheels won’t wear out and if they do, they are super easy to replace! There are a ton of options you can shop for, just read reviews and do a little research! We own two different Carry-on roller bags as well the larger roller bags for when we end up checking a bag. Normally on our trips we stick to the carry-ons, but when we moved abroad we took 4 of these large bags  with our entire lives in them! A strange thing to see your life in 4 large bags!




These were recommended to us from a friend and they are LIFE CHANGING. I remember thinking “these will never work” but they turned to magic as soon as I started packing. They come in different sizes depending on the size of your bag and they make separating your items easy and organized. We purchased ours on Amazon for about $20 and the price was so worth it! They offer better breathability than a ziplock bag and clean easily. Also using less plastic is always a plus because we love the earth!

  1. Separate your clothing : I pack all of my undies, bra’s, and swim suits in one pack. All of those items are relatively small and fit well together. Pack heavier items like jeans or sweatshirts in the larger pack and fill up extra space with socks. I then separate all my nicer tops and dresses in the same pack and pack them at the top to avoid wrinkling too much.
  2. Maximize space in your cubesI roll ALL of my t-shirts and place them neatly next to each other. I do the same if I am packing leggings or workout tanks!
  3. Shoes: I save a cube for shoes since normally while traveling they get a bit dingy and I don’t like having them on top of my clothes!



  1. Plan your outfits with basics you can rotate! I KNOW we want to look our best in travel photos, but if you can wear your white tee 3 different ways, you’ve saved so much room! And the money you would’ve spent checking a bag! Pack light! Skirts, shorts, and one pair of jeans! If your traveling to the cold take one heavy coat that is versatile and layers that are easily rollable/foldable! Plan every outfit before you pack. When I don’t plan, I tend to over pack with too many options.
  2. Be aware of fabrics! Pack lighter fabrics and layering options!
  3. Pack one pair of tennis shoes, a dressy shoe, and a comfy sandal or walking shoe, depending on the weather! Pack a pair of cheap flip flops for the showers if you are staying in hostels or under developed countries.
  4. Pack a trash bag for your dirty laundry. That’ll make it easier to transport to a local laundromat if you need!
  5. Travel with TSA approved liquids. #duh.  It is so much easier to travel with what you need in approved containers, then trying to buy it all in a foreign country.
  6. (For the ladies) Pack smart with makeup and hair products. Only pack ONE ziplock size bag for all of it 🙂 Just take the essentials! Travel is a great opportunity for some Dry shampoo(a life saver) and air dried hair!

I found a few youtube videos of minimalist packers that may help you out! Check it out:

I would love to answer any more questions or hear YOUR packing tips in the comments below! Happy packing!





  • Chris
    June 12, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Great post, we travel with one bag usually for our whole family.We went to Scandinavia last year and just used a carry on. It’s so freeing being able to just jump off the plane and leave. No baggage issues.

    • jessie.james
      June 12, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      I’m impressed! it really is a no stress way to go! no worries about lost baggage!

  • Super Mom - No Cape!
    June 12, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    These are all great tips. Thanks for sharing! Pinned to my Pinterest travel board. 🙂

    • jessie.james
      June 12, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      yay! glad you liked the tips! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Holly
    June 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    This post was super informative! I wrote a similar post a few weeks back http://asprigofholly.com/a-week-in-italy-using-a-carry-on-suitcase/

  • Nicole | The Professional Mom Project
    June 17, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Those travel cubes are brilliant! I’ll have to pick some up before my next family trip. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sreya Gupta
    June 22, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Such an amazing article. Really informative. And the travel cubes are so awesome.


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