how much can you really fit in a carry-on suitcase?

During a recent conversation at work, I told my colleagues that I only travel with carry-on luggage. There’s the odd exception but as a rule, it’s carry-on only. I admit – it’s not easy … it’s taken some time for me to get it just right but with careful planning, I’m able to fit everything I need into a small and manageable suitcase.

As I explained this to the girls I work with, a girl from another department joined in on the conversation. As I spoke, she looked at me with an expression that can only be described as equal parts disbelief and disgust. “It’s actually really easy,” I said coaxingly, trying to convince her. I’m not sure why. “And there are so many advantages to having just a carry-on suitcase,” I continued.

“But … what do you WEAR?” she asked, her face unable to hide the distaste she felt at the idea of leaving favourite shoes, clothes and accessories behind. Ah. The vision in my mind started to crystallize. Most days of the week, she’s wobbling around the office on too-high-heels, looking like a deer that’s just learning to walk. I could see what type of traveler she was now, tottering along cobblestone sidewalks in a pair of four-inch stilettos. “You’d be surprised how much you can fit into a carry-on suitcase,” I said. (Why am I trying to convince this girl??)

She’s clearly had enough of the conversation and starts to walk (wobble) away. “Anyway, when I travel, I’m more interested in the experiences I’m having rather than what I’m wearing,” I can’t help saying as she walks by me.

All of this is to say, that it really can be done and it doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your sense of style. I’m a girly-girl. I like my nice shoes and bags and while I can’t bring everything I’d like to, I thought I’d itemize everything that fit into this suitcase, for my two-week trip to India:

  • 13 dresses
  • 12 tops
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 skirts
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 3 belts
  • 1 sweater
  • 3 bikinis
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • 1 pair of heels
  • 2 pairs of flip flops
  • 1 pair of ballet flats
  • 1 evening bag
  • 1 cross-body bag
  • 1 shoulder bag

In addition to all of this, I’ve got an assortment of other odds and ends stuffed in there – India plug adapters, chargers for all of my tech toys, toiletries, hair accessories, a flat iron and two hair brushes.

Everyone keeps telling me I need to create a video to show you exactly how you can fit everything you need into a carry-on suitcase. Stay tuned – I’ll try to do something soon!

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Comments

  1. I agree with you 100%!! I only ever travel with a carry on bag and, even so, I still never wear all the outfits that I pack!

    I’m so happy I stumbled into your blog, so lovely. I just started a little travel blog myself, hope I get to write about as many cities as you have!

    • Hi Maki – thanks so much for your comment. I just checked out your blog and it’s great – I love your photos! 🙂 Good luck with it and happy travels!

      • Hi, I am planning a month trip to Vietnam. What size and brand is your roller suitcase? I loved your packlist, if I had all that I would be set? What do you typically put in your carry on from that list?

      • Hi Liz – My suitcase is from Marks & Spencer in London and it’s a Longhaul Scorpius Hard Rollercase. It’s really small but you’d be shocked how much I fit in there. In fact, I fit everything that’s in that packing list above in there.

        A month in Vietnam sounds amazing – but it could be tough to do a month with such a small suitcase. Unless you have laundry facilities and really don’t mind wearing the same over and over again. I would say pack for two weeks and then you can just wear everything twice. Dresses are really your best bet because they’re one item of clothing that make up an entire outfit (as opposed to a skirt + top + belt or something like that.)

        You can find more information about the suitcase here: http://www.marksandspencer.com/Longhaul-Scorpius-Hard-Rollercase-Small/dp/B003ZUQJWU?ie=UTF8&ref=sr_1_6&nodeId=1316786031&sr=1-6&qid=1326484697

        I hope this helps and have an amazing trip! Would love to hear about it when you get back!
        ~Natalie

  2. thanks for the update!

  3. Video video video!!!

  4. Thank you for the response!

  5. Natalie. You’ve obviously never travelled on Virgin Atlantic or Virgin America. Their carry on weight limit is 6 kg. Your Scorpius luggage weighs in at 3.2kg empty. So your 13 dresses etc would have to weigh less than 2.8 kg. I reckon you’d probably only get away with a pair of shoes and a hankie!

    • You’re right, Norma …I haven’t traveled Virgin Atlantic. However, I have traveled on 39 other airlines (one of which was actually Virgin America) without the slightest problem, so it’s working for me!

  6. Please post a vid or a diagram! I would love to see how you did this!

  7. Please post a video or diagram! I’d love to see how you do this!

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