How to pack using only carry-on bags

I haven’t always been a master packer. When I was 24 and moved to the UK, I took so much luggage that I had (a lot of) trouble carrying it all by myself from one airport to the next. As a “backpacker” for the next three years, I quickly learned how to pack using only carry-on bags. The video below will show you how!

LUG Cruiser Wheelie bag

The LUG Cruiser Wheelie is great because its dimensions are airline-approved for carryon baggage.


There are so many reasons packing light has become my signature style when travelling, but it mostly comes down to these 3 things:

  1. I’m cheap and unless you have some serious airline status, you have to pay for checked bags most of the time. That’s usually $25 plus tax there and another $25 plus tax back. I have better ways to spend $56.50. (Ten lattes, two great bottles of wine, a night out at the movies with my family…you get the point.)
  2. I like to get to my gate and then my destination as quickly as possible. It’s why I have NEXUS. It’s why I check-in online before my flight. And I am simply too impatient to wait for the baggage belt to start beeping and moving once the plane has unloaded. I want to get off and be on my merry way.
  3. No chance of lost luggage. Ever.

There are other reasons, too. Never in all my overpacking days did I ever wear or use everything I brought. Plus, packing this way gives most children the ability to manage their own bags once they get to be five or six years old. And the list goes on…

How to pack using only carry-on bags

There’s no real “secret” involved, but there are a series of strategies. Over the years, I have been asked so.many.times to create a how-to packing video that I finally hired a videographer and did just that.

AND BONUS…! Here’s a sample carry-on only packing list for the average week-long vacation in the Caribbean. (At some point, I can do a ski/winter packing list as well, but most of you have asked me for sunshine-friendly packing lists.)

But first, watch as I show you all my tricks:

Now off you go to study my packing light list!


CREDITS: Video shot and edited by Kristina Laukkanen of Pear Studios.

DISCLAIMER: This video featured the LUG Via Travel and the LUG Cruiser Wheelie Bag, which were generously provided by LUG for demo purposes. 

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  1. June Murphy says

    Fantastic packing tips! I am so pumped to pack for my next vacation. Great tip to bring interchangeable pieces.

  2. says

    Love it! We are all about the carry on luggage. Also a necessity if you do a lot of stand by flying and have to switch flights or destinations on the fly. We’ve also had luggage delayed for days at a time, and it was miserable!!! Great post.

  3. says

    This is so helpful! I am also a strong believer in carry-on only haha although for long international trips I still have brought the larger luggage. I still out of paranoia pack 1 days worth of clothes in my backpack just in case something weird happens.

    • says

      I do two small 50-100 ml bottles of sunscreen for the body and a TIZO3 sunscreen for my face (see packing list via the link in this post) – then I rely on a rashguard during the sunniest part of the day. I honestly HONESTLY never go through all my sunscreen and I’m basically blue and burn easily.

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