How to Pack for an 8 Day Trip In just a Carry-On!

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Don’t let your big suitcase weigh you down! Here’s how to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry-on!

I LOVE to travel. After many years of trying out travelling with just a carry on bag, I can say it is my favorite way of packing.  

Packing in just a carry on bag requires a little bit of thinking ahead, but it is so worth it in the end.No longer will you find yourself lugging around a bunch of stuff you don’t even use!

How to pack for an 8 day trip (or longer!)… in just a Carry-On Bag:

How to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry on

1.  Carefully choose a bag/s to use.

Choose a sturdy, lightweight carry-on bag that fits the size requirements for airline carry on travel.  The most important feature – in my opinion –  are the wheels. Make sure they are sturdy and roll well. I sometimes pack another bag inside the carry on (like the one pictured) to bring home shopping purchases in. How to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry on

2.  Fold up all the “unmentionables” (i.e. undies) and place them flat in the bottom and zip them up.

If your bag is of a similar design as mine, there will be metal rods in the bottom of the bag. I tuck the underwear and socks in between the rods so that no space is left empty.

By placing these items at the bottom, if for some reason I have to open my suitcase in the airport they won’t all come flying out…{How embarrassing would that be?}

How to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry on

3.  Fold up the extra shopping bag and place it on top of the zippered section.

It will become the new “bottom” of the carry-on.

How to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry on

4.  Choose “mix and match” clothing pieces.

Obviously, your destination and the weather there will determine the particulars of your clothing choices. I like to choose only those things that are comfortable and can be matched with other pieces to form new outfits.

For specifics of what I packed for a Summer trip (for a month!) see this post. And here are packing tips for another sunny destination trip I took.

5.  Choose the bulkiest outfit to wear on the plane.

I like to wear a sweater, scarf, and boots (if it’s winter) on the plane. That way, if it is drafty I have options to stay warm. It also frees up valuable suitcase space by wearing my bulkiest clothing and footwear.

I also refrain from wearing large jewelry pieces and belts if I’m going through airport security lines.  I always feel slightly embarrassed to have to “disrobe” {and then put them all back on} while I’m standing in the airport security line!

How to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry on

6.  Put all liquids in a clear bag and put them in your purse ~ and don’t forget the important documents!

The liquid limits for carry on bags seems to fluctuate a bit, so be sure to check your specific airline for regulations. The  “liquid limit” is perhaps the trickiest part of travelling with only a carry-on.  Make-up and hair products can quickly eat up all your liquid allowances!  Travel sized items are obviously advantageous.  Purchase items upon arrival of the destination is also another solution.

Also remember to put in your purse your important documents (passport and travel info) and your toothbrush {I like to brush my teeth alot!}.

7.  Rethink packing your blow dryer.

I don’t know about yours, but my blow dryer is ridiculously big!  Sometimes I choose not to drag it along.  If I’m staying with family members at my final destination, or if the hotel has a complimentary dryer, I just leave mine at home.

How to pack for an 8 day trip in just a carry on

8.Pack jewelry in a separate bag so it doesn’t get lost in the mix!

I don’t tend to take lots of jewelry when I travel, but what I do, I like to pack in its own separate bag.

Here it is ~ all packed up and ready to go! I’ve used this method of packing when we went to Maui, Georgia, and visiting family in Montana.

Oh, and one more thing! In the outside pocket of my carry on, I like to tuck in a few granola bars and a good book. You never know how long you might be sitting around, so be prepared to relax and read!

Do you have any other packing tricks to give? Please share. I always love to learn new handy tips!


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  1. Such organization! I'd want to take more footwear. I'm a 'what if' kinda girl.. so I try to be prepared for all types of weather. then again, if your sisters have the same size feet as you, you're pretty well covered!

  2. I'm fascinated by how other people pack, so thanks for letting us peek into your luggage.

    One thing I never thought of or heard about was avoiding the chunky metal stuff like belts and necklaces when you fly. That's good advice.

    I'm big on packing stuff that doesn't wrinkle (unmentionables, sox, swimwear) in plastic zip bags. It's easy to squeeze and condense them, and you can never have too many waterproof bags for the return trip (wet stuff, dirty stuff).

    I usually limit each trip's travel wardrobe to just two or three colors, so that everything's easily mixable. I'd love hearing how others pack for trips.

    I'm with Aneta. I'd need more than flip flops. Being a what-if kinda gal means sometimes taking more than you need, but I'm willing to pack a little extra for the peace of mind it gives.

    Usually the first thought I have pulling out of the driveway is, "What did I forget?" But then I settle back and start relaxing!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a great time with your sisters!

  3. Good advice, Aneta. I, unfortunately do not have the same size feet as my sisters… I know I'm taking risks here!! (But their feet are bigger…I could always stick socks in the toes!:))

  4. You are amazing, Rita. I always wondered what the zippered part of the carryon was for…no longer. I agree w the belt part, figured that out on a recent trip…you do need to account for the fact that not all of us wear petite clothing, tho….haha. I love you even tho you're tiny. My sister brought me back zippered "packing cubes" this year..love those as well, easy to root thru your suitcase if needs be. Have a great trip!!

  5. Thank you for sharing this. We will be leaving on a vacation trip soon and this will definitely come in handy!

  6. I usually need dress shoes and casual shoes. I stuff the toes with undergarments or socks and place the soles into the corners.

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