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How to Pack 2 Weeks in a Carry-On

By  May 1, 2013

It can be done. Let’s just start there. It is possible to pack for a two-week European vacation of uncertain weather in a standard, airline approved carry-on.

How to Pack 2 Weeks in a Carry On

Before you start packing light there’s a few things you need to consider.

First, take a look at the forecast. For us, the weather is really uncertain. It’s supposed to be cold and rainy in Munich and Innsbruck, but then get warmer and sunnier as we go south to Rome. This means that we have to plan for packing rain boots, rain jackets, and lots of layers.

Next, consider how you’re traveling. We’re allowed two checked bags each on our international flight, but aren’t using them. Why? Because the idea of lugging gigantic wheeled suitcases on and off trains, through cities with cobblestone streets, and up and down stairs at B&Bs is a nightmare – one that we lived on our Europe trip last year and have no desire to repeat.

Take a look at your carry-on bag. The ideal carry-on has crazy wheels (that spin in all directions), tons of pockets, and reinforcing on all the external seams. We got my carry on from Tuesday Morning for about $90. It’s London Fog brand and is, if you’ll allow a little nerdy humor, a little like a Tardis (it’s bigger on the inside). This puppy has more pockets, nooks, and crannies than any suitcase I’ve ever seen. It’s sturdy and unique looking; I’m not likely to walk off with the wrong luggage.

[EDIT]: After receiving tons of comments on this post (keep ‘em coming!), it’s been drawn to my attention that not all airlines have the same rules regarding carry-on sizes, especially those outside the US. Be sure to check the size and weight limitations of your airline before assuming you’ll be able to carry on. Never fear, though! Even if you have to check your bag, packing light will still help your trip go more smoothly!


London Fog Carry On Suitcase


London Fog Carry On Suitcase Inside

Next, contemplate what you plan on packing. Before this trip, I’d take an outfit for each day. Now, I take just enough clothes to get me through a week. Yes, this means that we have to do laundry mid-trip, but we don’t mind. If we can’t find a laundromat, we’ll just hand wash everything and hang it to dry. As for detergent, we plan on grabbing some once we land. No point bring it along for the flight if we can just pick up a bit later.

So what exactly did I pack for two weeks sightseeing in Germany, Austria, and Italy?

I packed four pairs of pants: one pair of colored jeans, one pair of skinny jeans, one pair of boyfriend capris, and one pair of (longish) shorts.


4 bottoms

I packed one maxi skirt and one dress.


2-dresses2 dresses

I packed six tops: one long sleeved striped tee, two basic V-neck tees in white and black, one black camp shirt, one chambray button down, and one tank top.


6-tops6 tops

I also packed three jackets: one jean jacket, one olive military jacket, and my Columbia rain jacket.


3-jackets3 jackets

I’m surviving with only three pairs of shoes (not counting my rain boots): one pair of flat sandals, one pair of heels, and my Sperrys (for walking).


3 pairs of shoes

I also packed a few accessories: three belts, two scarves, and a few (cheap) necklaces.



I also packed enough unmentionables and undershirts to get me through a week.

To pack all this, I folded and then rolled each piece as tightly as I could. This method not only saves space, but keeps your clothes from getting to wrinkled. Once rolled, I packed everything into three packing cubes. [EDIT]: My packing cubes came with an old luggage set, but if you’re looking for some I’d suggest these from eBags. They have the same sizes I used here and have some really fun colors.


packing cubes

I’ll be wearing the jeans, chambray shirt, and Sperrys on the plane. Everything else tucks away nicely in my carry on. I make sure to use every avalible bit of space: stuff belts in shoes and socks anywhere you see a void.


Suitcase Packed

Finally, I threw my rubber boots in on top.


Suitcase Packed with Wellies

Everything else – my toiletries, makeup, kindle, and whatnot – live in my tote bag.

2 weeks


And that’s it. Two weeks in a carry on!

We’re so excited to be going and even more excited for all of the FABULOUS guest posts coming in the next two weeks! I hope you enjoy reading their posts as much as we have!

Have you ever packed for two weeks in a carry on? Could you do it?

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