How to pack in a carry-on bag

We've had several requests for this post, and it's a great question! When we travel, we typically pack in a carry-on size rolling suitcase or a backpack depending on the destination and type of trip. There are many reasons to pack in a carry-on, but for us, it comes down to being able to keep our bags with us, often saving money, and not lugging 50 pound suitcases around.

If traveling for a week or more, this can be a major challenge, especially if you are like me and tend to overpack. Admittedly, I haven't always been great at packing, but Sam is really organized and keeps me in check. Here's how we pack in a carry-on size bag. We're going to tailor this to a tropical destination, but the same process can be used for traveling anywhere.

We recently packed for Tulum for two weeks.

1. Lay out all of the clothes and shoes you'd like to bring and slowly start narrowing down by following the below steps.

2. For me, it's easiest to start with shoes since they tend to take up a lot of room. When we travel, I typically need one pair of shoes for activities and walking around, one pair for the beach and at one pair for dinner. Despite what you may think, you don't need to bring six pairs of shoes.

3. Once I've narrowed down my shoe choices, I start with the easiest items first: bathing suits. I pack two bathing suits so I always have a dry one. Don't forget a cover up! Then, pack a pair of PJs or two and an outfit or two to work out in if you plan to hit the gym.

4. Here comes the hard part. When we travel, I tend to stick to basics that I can mix and match. Bringing scented dryer sheets can help you remove static cling from your clothes and freshen them up!

For bottoms, you can't go wrong with a pair of jean shorts, jeans (I like white jeans for beach vacations), and a pair of nicer shorts or pants depending on where you are going.

For girls, pack three dresses that can be worn on the beach or out to dinner. For guys, pack three dress shirts that can be worn with the bottoms you are bringing. Don't forget a light sweater or jacket for cooler evenings.

When it comes to tops, I think the more basic you can go, the better. You can always dress things up or down with accessories. I bring two fun tank tops or blouses and three basic tees that I can switch out. Those scented dryer sheets come in handy here.

5. For liquids, I think the easiest and most cost-efficient thing to do is buy a TSA approved travel container set so you can use your own products.

6. I usually put all other items in my personal item (passport, iPad, accessories, etc).

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