The ultimate lady’s guide to packing only a carry-on

We’ve showed you how a gentleman can pack a bag, and now it’s time to focus on a lady’s guide to packing only a carry-on. While much of the advice for packing remains the same for a woman as it does for a man, there are a few key differences. We still recommend rolling versus folding your clothes, and lightweight, layered fabrics. The differences for a woman comes what to layer and in the form of her accessories.

Lady's Carry On Packing List

Layering

Just like our advice for the men, women should plan for layering and mix and match outfits. A soft silky top can be worn casually with a skirt and flats or dressed up with a necklace or scarf and heels. However, we still recommend keeping shoes neutral so you’re not packing your entire closet!

Sweaters and pashminas are great for layering, and are easy to wear and carry with you on the plane. Also, think dresses for stylish all-in-one outfits that take up less space.

Accessories

Don’t forget to pick out your accessories to match or even change up your outfits. Pick one or two go-with-everything necklaces and earrings and one statement piece. Additionally, you may want to pack only costume jewelry and leave the diamonds and pearls at home. Place your items in a jewelry roll, a small roll up bag made especially for jewelry, to fit snuggly between your clothes.

The small rolls up bags are great for makeup as well. Keep everything fresh and neutral to go with everything. Don’t forget liquids have to be 1oz or less. Your hotels will have necessary bath products and it may be worth it to purchase what you need when either at the hotel or before you leave the airport.

packign accessories

Checklist

  • 3 short or 2 long sleeve tops for layering depending on climate
  • 2-3 thin silk tanks for layering
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 shorts (sub 1 pair of lightweight cargo pants if cooler climate)
  • 2 long pants
  • 1 pair dress heels, 1 pair flats to wear through airport security
  • 1 pair athletic shoes or sandals depending on your activities
  • Silk pajamas
  • 7 pair socks or hosiery rolled into shoes (or none if the climate calls for it)
  • 7 underwear
  • 1 swimsuit (or rain jacket depending on climate)
  • 1 belt (be sure to match your shoes)
  • 1-2 scarves or pashmina
  • Accessories bag
  • Toiletry bag

What are your must-have items in your carry-on?

Michael Wilkens is Founder of Wilkens.

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Comments (6)

  1. Anca says:

    When it comes to carry-on luggage, I always pack only skirts and dresses instead of pants, and depending on climate, if it’s not that warm, I add a few pairs of tights. That’s how I save the most space for other things.

  2. James says:

    Actually girls always carry extra clothes while traveling. This blog is an great idea to minimizes their garments while packing.Nice idea after all.

  3. Rita says:

    Great piece of advice. And very useful too.
    For everyone travelling to portugal be sure to bring your camera ;)

    Cheers!

  4. Amy says:

    We travel a lot…and I mean a lot! My husband’s family is in England, so just going back and forth there so often, you definitely want to keep the packing light. I just did six weeks there out of a carry-on and a Balenciaga weekender. Here’s some tips to add:
    Silk and cashmere pack extra small and are great for layering/weather changes
    Pack in sort of one tone…for this past England trip, it was pale blues, greys, ivory and black. That means I only needed black shoes. (I might have taken my red Rockstuds for fun!)
    I don’t roll…I lay my clothes flat. For example, I’ll fold a sweater horizontally so that it fits the dimensions of my rolling suitcase. Silk blouses lay flat, collar to hem with the arms crossed over, same with skirts, collar to hem. Jeans/pants are folded over once and fit the length of my suitcase. I can fit two pair side by side. I used to roll. I actually did the experiment years ago (packed rolled, then packed this way) and this works much better for me.
    I wear my one pair large shoes (In this case, my riding boots) in the airport to save space. Yeah, you have to unzip them to get them off but it’s really not that much trouble.
    My Balenciaga weekender acts as my one “personal item” on the plane. I place my regular handbag, computer, toiletries, large bottle of water I’ve bought in the airport, the aforementioned pashmina and cosmetics in it so I have easy access while on the plane. On international trips, I HAVE to wash my makeup off before I sleep and reapply when I arrive. This bag fits nicely on top of my rolling suitcase, so it’s not hanging heavily on my arm while waiting at the gate.
    I do keep my computer in my suitcase at the very front/top of the main compartment for easy access through security. Toiletries and my iPad live in the front zipper pocket until security. I rearrange and put these few things in my weekender once I make it to the lounge.
    Hope these few more ideas help some of you out!
    Happy traveling!!

  5. Amy says:

    This was beyond helpful to me. I will be doing a great deal of traveling in the next month or so and I need to pack light. Your advice of rolling instead of folding is genius. I have used this technique before and it works perfectly. I struggle with over packing because I am not ever sure of what I will want to wear once I get to my destination, so your list and suggestion of neutral colored shoes is great. Thank you for the advice on jewelry, I hadn’t even thought about part yet!

  6. rose says:

    Thanks that was really helpful. and amy’s comments on short journeys/hand luggage is very helpfull. I agree about wearing the high boots travelling. They look good with skinny jeans, and poncho/wrap. comfy, warm on fllight, and warm for the return journey from Warm climate to freezing home. I have always rolled, but next time i will lay it out. I will let ye know how i get on. cheers. oh! and HAPPY HOLLIDAY. or business trip…depending…

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