Three Weeks in One Carry-on

When Patrick first suggested it, I almost laughed.

Carry-on luggage only? For a three week trip? He had to be kidding.

via Tec Petaja
via Tec Petaja

He wasn’t.

I get it. Packing light has many benefits. For one, we’ll be moving fast—the less we pack, the less we have to lug around. Second, the less we take, the less cluttered our small little hostel and Airbnb rooms rooms will feel. And let’s be honest, they’re already going to be pretty small! And ultimately, there’s not really a way to pack 21 pairs of underwear and 21 outfits. That’s what I call unnecessary baggage.

So with that in mind, I sought to figure out what I already owned that would make an easy wash-as-you-go  wardrobe.  Here’s the gist:

Three Weeks in One Bag

Footwear. At first, I wanted to just take two pairs of shoes. But what the heck. I am a girl. I knew I wanted to take a pair of boots—they’re comfortable, warm, and versatile—and also because the ones I have are about to die after a long and fruitful life of service. (And won’t it be nice to take them, and replace them in Europe?) Then, a simple pair of flats will work for museums, nice dinners, and walking short distances. (I like these from J.Crew factory.) And finally. I had to do it. One pair of tourist tennies. And I will wear them with a smile on my face! (Maybe.)

Tops. So in the picture above, there are four tops. Chambray is great, because I wear it everyday anyway. A SmartWool t-shirt is light, warm, and easily washed by hand. I can wear it day after day too, because the merino wool has anti-microbial fibers that fight stink! Yes! A long-sleeved black tee won’t show sweat (not that I do that), and it’s easy to layer. (I might borrow something like this from my next door neighbor.) And finally, the fourth option could be something like this J.Crew linen baseball T. I’ve also been thinking about slipping in a white collared shirt—maybe something that won’t wrinkle too easily, like this Columbia version.

Bottoms. Easy. One pair of Jeans. One pair of good-quality leggings (they are fully opaque, I promise!). One pair of shorts. Keep it simple with black—because then everything matches.

Layers. I’m hoping to take a cashmere sweater to layer on top of everything. Then, I’m going to borrow my sweet friend Jaime’s Patagonia vest. Sure, it’s a little “techie,” but it will be warm and add some variety. Annnnd… don’t forget a great scarf. I might take two. And by might, I mean will.

Dress. I found this Columbia dress at REI, and couldn’t help myself. It will be perfect for a few fancy dinners, and can be layered with just about everything in the bag. Score.

Intimates. I’m really looking forward to trying out SmartWool’s new intimate line (more on that soon!)—but ultimately, I think 3-4 pairs will do just fine.

So take all this, put it together… and what do you get? Well.. I went a little crazy on Polyvore. Granted, I don’t own these exact pieces, but the idea is there… and I like it!

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Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 5.42.18 PM

Pack for Three Weeks in One Bag

Not bad, eh? I know this is only 11 days… but I thought you might get sick of the mixing and matching. You get the gist.

What are your travel tips? Anything you can’t leave home without?


Author: Claire

Hi I'm Claire. I am a freelance writer, Vizlsa lover, and avid runner who lives in Nashville, TN. Nice to meet you.

16 thoughts

  1. I alays travel wih 7kg carry on for up to a month. Never midwinter. Mostly autumn. this lis of clotehs is pretty much what I take plus a jacket for hiking or rain. Also open sandals with a mid heel not flats. Liberating!

  2. I’m getting ready to do three weeks in the UK and Italy and we decided to take only carry on bc a friend just went to Ireland and they lost the entire family’s luggage for four days!! I can’t imagine!! We’re taking four flights within Europe and don’t want to check any luggage at all. Your mix and match plan is perfect and I love the idea of taking older things that you mean to replace while you’re there anyway! Very smart! Plus, you can fit those scarves inside your boots lol! I’m going to use your packing list as inspiration – thank you for posting it!

  3. Where are the books, notebooks, laptop, cables, chargers? Not sure I’m going to fit these clothes around those essentials, but I’ll try.

  4. I’m totally impressed! You are going to have a blast. While it’s fun to have lots of options it’s so much more stress-free when you don’t have to figure out an outfit each morning and you can just go.

    1. You are so right! Not that i’ll be using these as flash cards or anything… but its nice to know that there are so many options with just a few pieces!

    1. You are so right about being cold! I didn’t include this in the picture… but I am going to take one jacket that doubles as something warm and water proof. It’s NECESSARY… because I freeze!

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