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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video: pack smart


I just boarded Seabourn’s incredible new ship Sojourn. I’m traveling for two full weeks and need a variety of clothing options – casual summer clothes, warm clothes for cold days, dresses for dinner, high heels, flip flops and even gym clothes and running shoes – travelling on a Seabourn ship means you’ll be indulging in the most delicious gourmet food at every turn, so hitting the treadmill is essential! In this video, I’ll show you how I was able to pack everything I needed and still travel with carry-on only.

cuffs by paulette rose


I just love finding beautiful new things to feature on my blog and today I discovered an accessory that I’m sure all of you (ladies!) are going to love!

Paulette Rose is a recently launched company that makes cuffs out of the most exquisite fabrics and that feature simply beautiful designs. The pictures really speak for themselves. Aren’t they beautiful? I love how these simple accessories can instantly transform an outfit. A plain white shirt and a pair of jeans is transformed into an elegant evening look with the addition of a pair of these cuffs. A standard black blazer instantly becomes a a signature piece when paired with the plaid silk cuffs pictured above. Simultaneously totally modern, yet subtly heralding an era gone by, there’s something truly timeless and romantic about them.

Months ago I blogged about how tricky it can be to pack smart when you’re traveling. What I also love about these cuffs is that they’re perfect for travel. Small and easy to pack, they’ll certainly provide options when you’re on the go and will take up next to no room at all in your suitcase. Offering style and versatility, they’re the perfect travel accessory.

For more information or to purchase online, visit pauletterose.com.

beach bag essentials

beach-bag-essentials3
I hate complaining about the weather but sometimes, you just have to. It’s the first week of July and it was c-c-cold outside today. Which leaves me with no other choice but to dream about warm weather destinations. So, in my mind, I’m packing my bags and heading to the beach! Here are my beach bag essentials.

1 Sunglasses: I love my Prada sunglasses, definitely a splurge but they just look so good! And besides, you do NEED UV protection when you’re outdoors!
2 Cotton hobo bag: Available at Old Navy, this bag is perfect for the beach or for toting around town. It’s so easy to fold and pack, which is another reason I love it.
3 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock: Sunblock is a beach essential but I love this Neutrogena sunscreen because it goes on smooth and feels dry to the touch once applied. I hate sunscreens that are hard to rub in and leave you feeling greasy.
4 iPod Touch: How did we ever live without our iPods? Full of my fave tunes and even a handful of movies (not to mention a vast assortment of games and other apps), my iPod goes where I go! Perfect for relaxing on the beach and the passing time on the plane.
5 Havaiana flip flops: Stylish. Comfortable. Inexpensive. Perfect.
6 OPI nail polish: OK, so you can’t fix up a botched nail polish job on the beach but it doesn’t hurt to have your nail polish on hand just in case!

What are your beach bag essentials?

purifying waterless hand soap

fruits-passion-waterless-hand-soapA purifying waterless hand soap, you say? Perfect! Especially for a germaphobe such as myself. This handy travel-sized hand wash doesn’t require water, which means that you can give your hands a quick clean before eating on the go or after touching … you know … whatever that was your hand just grazed on the bottom of that table. Yuck! I usually try to keep some Purell handy but I love this new product from Fruits and Passion. Love the packaging and the fragrance, too. It has the soft scent of orange and cantaloupe.

Available online at fruits-passion.com.
Price: $6.50

how to: pack smart

packing-smartI know. It’s not easy to pack light. I don’t know how guys do it – well, I do know how they do it. They pack one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans, maybe a pair of shorts and two T-shirts. They don’t mind that everything doesn’t match and they have no problem leaving their products (if they even use any) at home. Oh, they just don’t understand us women. The clothes, the shoes, the hair products, the skin products, the makeup, the purses, sweaters if it’s chilly, sundresses if it’s hot … did I mention the shoes? Like I said. I know. It’s not easy to pack light.

But … I will say that I myself have learned from my BF and travel expert, how to pack smart, without having to leave all my fabulous stuff at home. It all started when he and I began planning a trip to Hawaii and Australia, with a pit stop for me in Los Angeles, that would last 16 days. Awesome! Until he called me up one night and said something about only bringing carry-on luggage. Huh? Was he planning a different trip than me? Didn’t he realize that we were going away for SIXTEEN days? I started to argue until he made the one point that was unarguable. We would, he explained, be flying on some small planes, including one puddle jumper to Fraser Island. We simply couldn’t weigh the plane down with excess luggage. Gulp. Carry-on it was.

But how? It was like the riddle of the Sphinx. I was stumped. But with the help of my ever-ingenious mom, we figured it out. The key is rolling.

First, I place my shoes around the perimeter inside the suitcase. Small shoes like flip-flops can easily fit into pockets. That leaves what looks like not-a-whole-heck-of-a-lot-of-room for anything else. Before you start packing your clothing, survey everything you’re planning to take and cut it down by half. OK, maybe by one-third. Then start rolling. Clothing rolled into tight cylinder-like shapes can be lined up in rows tightly against one other and you’ll be surprised just how much fits. Depending on what you’re packing, you may even be able to do another row on top. If you’re heading to a warm-weather destination, this is much easier as summer clothes are so much smaller and lighter than those in our winter wardrobes. But the principle still applies. Packing this way, I can still fit two pairs of jeans along with shorts, skirts, dresses, tops, shoes and accessories.

But what’s the big advantage to traveling light? Well, there are lots of pros. First of all, you don’t have to get to the airport quite so early if you’re not checking a bag. You won’t have to worry about it getting lost in transit (it’s a real pain, trust me!). You don’t have to waste time at the baggage carousel once you’ve landed. It’s safe and secure with you at all times and it gives you added flexibility. Say you want to change flights for some reason (maybe there’s an earlier flight or your flight is significantly delayed); having your luggage on your person means you can make quick decisions and change your travel plans … on the fly.

There are lots of other packing tricks like socks inside shoes. What are your packing tricks? Leave a comment and share! But remember ladies, you don’t have to bring everything but the bathroom sink! It took me a while to feel comfortable traveling without my hairdryer (even still the thought stresses me out), but for the most part, all hotels have hairdryers. They’ve got shampoo, conditioner, soap – so leave that stuff at home. I know you’re partial to your own products. But what would you rather have – your own shampoo or your cute strappy sandals? That’s what I thought.

ahava: delights from the dead sea

ahavaI was just recently in Israel (I wrote about it if you missed it; check it out here) and unfortunately, I was so sick the day we visited the Dead Sea, that I missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. Swimming, or floating, rather, in the Dead Sea was one of the exciting things I was looking forward to doing but when you’re sick, you’re sick! Instead, I spent the afternoon virtually passed out at a picnic table in the shade, about a five-minute walk from the sea. I just couldn’t do it.

Not only is the Dead Sea known for the fact that it’s the lowest point on earth (422 metres below sea level) and for the fact that you can’t sink in its waters (even if you’re a terrible swimmer, like me!) but the sea is believed to have major healing properties due to the mineral content of the water. Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics company that makes facial, body and skin care products using natural Dead Sea ingredients that restore skin’s health and moisture balance. Sounds good, right? The products are available in many stores but if you’re interested in trying them out, check out Bath & Body Works. The Body Delights Travel Sampler comes in airline-approved travel sizes and features a mud exfoliator, a mineral hand cream, a mineral foot cream, a purifying mud mask, mineral body lotion, a mineral shower gel, a flower mirror key chain and a white mesh lipstick case. For $12.50, how could you go wrong? Visit bathandbodyworks.com for more information.

the perfect travel accessory

gap-scarf
I was recently asked about a scarf that I often travel with and I thought I’d write a blog post on the subject. How much is there to say about a scarf? Well, a few points I thought I’d share. The scarf I always travel with is a lightweight, inexpensive one from Gap, similar though not identical to the one pictured here. It’s so handy and I love traveling with it for a number of reasons. First, I’m always cold, especially on airplanes. Having this wrap handy means I don’t have to cover up with the airline issued blankets that often look like they’ve seen better days. (It’s hard to get cozy in a blanket that’s been used by countless other passengers, no?) It’s great to have a scarf like this on hand for chilly evenings but even more useful is when you’re visiting holy sites. Frequently along my travels, I’ve arrived at places where, despite the raging heat, covering up is mandatory as a sign of respect and reverence – the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Grand Palace in Bangkok and The Western Wall in Jerusalem are a few that jump to mind. This particular scarf is so light and it doesn’t wrinkle, making it the perfect travel accessory. You just never know when you’ll need it!

Colours: Orchid Blossom (pictured here), True Black, Chives, Chocolate Chip
Available at: gap.com
Price: $19.50

crabtree & evelyn’s 60-second fix manicure set for hands

After some careful consideration, I think it’s safe to make the following statement: I’m a germaphobe. And I think I have an increasingly severe condition. I can’t help it. Especially when I travel, I am constantly washing my hands, dousing them with Purell or using anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down everything from my seatbelt on the plane to the remote control in my hotel room. (Incidentally, remote controls are rumoured to be one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room, along with the drinking glasses you often find in the bathroom. Yuck!) Anyhow, the result of all this compulsive hand washing is that my hands are left dry and raw. Sometimes they actually hurt because of the frequency with which I wash them. I try to carry hand lotion with me at all times but even so, it doesn’t always do the trick. The solution? I’ve finally found it! Crabtree & Evelyn’s 60-Second Fix Manicure Set for Hands is incredible! Literally, in 60 seconds, my hands felt soft (honestly, like velvet!), soothed and restored. First, you exfoliate gently, then moisturize your hands with the lotion. The intensive shea butter and seaweed formula must be just the right combination because the results are wonderful, especially if you suffer from chronically dry hands like me. Available in a mini size, perfect for meeting airline regulations regarding liquids. Try it. You’ll like it.

60-second-fix

lugbuddy

One of my least favourite things about travel is being weighed down with stuff. You know how it is – you roll up to the airport with everything neatly packed but before you know it, you’re scrambling to find your passport and your hands are filled with stuff — pen, boarding pass, customs forms. Your shoulder bag is hanging from your elbow and you’re trying to roll your suitcase with your other hand but you’ve dropped your boarding pass and the people in line behind you are starting to scowl. You’ve only got two hands and if you could, you would move faster!

The airport is not the place to be disorganized. Just recently, I was sitting at my gate, waiting to board an American Airlines flight to New York when the flight attendant came by, saw my luggage and asked for a personal demonstration of the gadget I’m about to tell you about. It’s called a LUGbuddy and it’s the greatest little invention. It’s like a bungee cord. You fasten one end around the handle of your suitcase. Then, place your hand luggage (or whatever else you’re carrying) on top of the suitcase and stretch the LUGbuddy across the item, securing it at the back of the suitcase’s pull handle. Finally, tighten the LUGbuddy with the cord lock if necessary.

This gem is one of the best products I’ve found when it comes to helping you stay organized. It makes it so much easier to navigate your way through the airport when your two pieces of luggage are secured together like this and it also leaves one hand free. I LUG my LUGbuddy and never travel without it! Visit lugbuddy.com for more information.

lug-buddy