Yes, You Can Pack for Vacation in a Carry-On Bag!

Packing Tips for vacation

Now that you have the perfect vacation planned, it’s time for the hardest part—what to pack?  

So often when planning what to wear on vacation, we overpack.  We want to be ready for every moment—an evening meal at a restaurant on the water, a night at the casino, a causal meal on the beach. But, do we really need to bring a different outfit for every occasion? This might be shocking, but the real answer is NO!

Of course, you want to feel and look your best while you’re away, and if you’re like me, you probably went on a shopping trip specifically in search of a few new pieces to pack. But, did you think those purchases through? Will you wear the items you purchased time and time again, or are they a one-and-done look? Falling into this cycle of occasion-based shopping results in bringing too many items on your trip.

I’m here to tell you that there is a way to bring your personal style away with you, while still remaining a practical packer. Instead of packing for all of the “what-if’s”—imagine the ease of packing with intention. Not only will you feel less overwhelmed picking out an outfit each day and night, but you will even have extra space to pick up a memento or two, plus—you’ll have less laundry when you come home!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. So, what should I bring with me? What if I don’t have enough to last me through the trip? What if I don’t have the right type of attire?

Though great questions, think about the last time you went away and were completely missing an item you needed. In my nearly ten years of experience as a Personal Wardrobe Stylist, I’ve rarely heard a client say that they even wore half of the clothing they brought on their trip.

Packing a carry-on bag for vacation

A little extra thought and preparation will go a long way. Before you start, consider these questions: 

  1. How long is your vacation?
  2. What kind of trip are you taking? Will you be spending most of your time exploring and on tours, relaxing on the beach, or a combination of both?
  3. Is your resort more casual or upscale?
  4. Will you be dining at restaurants each night, or are there more relaxed options?
  5. What are the expected weather conditions? Will you need a jacket or shrug to keep you warm at night?
  6. How important is it to you to be dressed up the entire time?
  7. Does your hotel have dry cleaning or a laundry service?


Pams Packing List


All things considered, we want to be comfortable, practical, and ready for the day while also remaining stylish. Take a look at my sample packing list for a warm weather getaway:

  • Undergarments: 1 pair for each day, plus a few extra
  • Sleepwear: 1 set for every 3 nights
  • Shoes: Sneakers, sandals/flip flops, wedge or heel for evening dress
  • Socks: 4 pairs, plus a few extra if you plan on outdoor activities or a lot of sightseeing
  • Pants: 1 pair of black pants, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of white or other solid color
  • Tops: 5 tops, 3 of which can be layered under a cardigan or light jacket
  • Dresses: 2-3 that can be dressed up or down based on your dining experience
Pack Smart For Vacation
  • Outerwear: 1 cardigan, 1 jean/casual jacket, 1 dressier jacket for pants and dresses.
    *Expert tip- wear your bulkiest outerwear item on the plane to avoid taking up too much space in your suitcase!
  • Jewelry: Limit the valuable pieces and have fun with costume/trendy accessories that will brighten your outfit
  • Cover Up: 3 options—even better if they can double as a casual daytime dress
  • Bathing Suits: 3 in varying styles based on your comfort level
  • Bag: A clutch or cross-body bag in a neutral shade you can use every night
  • Beach Essentials: A straw hat to shield your face from the sun and a tote that doubles as a beach bag are must-haves!
Pack Comfortable Wear

Lastly, my no-fail method for packing is to roll every item. Believe me, it will save you so much more space than a normal fold, and you won’t end up with creases!

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