Packing the Perfect Carry On

I can’t tell you the last time I checked a suitcase. Or wait…I can. It was on a family vacation to Mexico. When we arrived, all 5 of our bags were deemed “lost.” My mom ended up buying me a Corona bikini from a tourist shop (which felt a bit inappropriate on my awkward, 14 year old body), and a beach cover up. That’s what I wore for 2 days…until I was dramatically reunited with my stuff. You can imagine how not having my own cleanser and moisturizer was also a tragedy to my teenage self. From that moment on, I vowed to never be more than 5 feet away from my belongings when travelling. Now, it’s carry-on or bust.

Packing the perfect carry-on is a bit of an art. I’ve honed it over the years and, combined with my fear of having a bag that’s “too full” (is this a legitimate phobia? Anyone else?), I think I have some good advice on how to make it work. Below, I’ve outlined a few tips for packing for that hot weather vacation you’ve got coming up. Spoiler alert: you really don’t need that much.

First things first: packing cubes. If you have not been introduced to these, welcome to a whole new world. Packing cubes let you diligently organize your clothes into little sections that fit seamlessly into your carry on. It’s like the easiest game of Tetris you’ve ever played—except it’s a time-saver instead of a time-waster. It’s also great for when you unpack because you know exactly where everything is.

Now, what goes in the cubes? Here are a few of my favourite items for warm weather carry-on travel.


White linen button up: tuck it into a pair of shorts or wear it over your bathing suit as a coverup. Easy breezy. My favourite is this relaxed fit one because baggy is better.

Easy tank: everyone needs an easy tank they can throw on with shorts, pants, or during that downtime in your room. Im partial to this one because comfort is queen.

Romantic blouse: in this instance, “romantic” just means anything with ruffles or frills that feels super feminine. We’ve covered off most of the casual wear, so it’s nice to throw a special blouse in for that more upscale dinner you’ve planned. This one in any of the three colour options will do just fine. Also looks cute with cutoffs.

Simple dress: this one is a gorgeous, mossy colour and the silk fabric makes it appropriate to wear day and night. Pairs well with the slides.

Shorts: everyone seems to be straying away from denim cutoffs, but I think if you can find a great vintage pair or even workshop your own with an old pair of jeans, they’re just so classic and versatile. I like to keep my eyes on bohème goods for when she drops new ones.

Pants: bear with me here—I know these are technically “beach cover up” pants, but I love how flowy they are. And whenever I’m somewhere hot, it’s so nice to not wear tight jeans or have anything sticking to you. A pair of wide-legged trousers is always a good idea—these ones in particular you can wear with your swimsuit, or with the easy tank tucked in.

Bathing suit: I’m always tempted to pack six different swimsuits (they’re so tiny to throw in!) but realistically, you can get away with two: a bikini and a one piece. I like to go for a more playful bikini and then a black or white one piece that can double as a body suit.

Clutch: I like to stick to packing pretty neutral colours, so that everything can be paired together quite seamlessly. That’s why I opt for a more colourful clutch. My friend brought me back one from Morocco that’s a bit like a loud, furry little monster, which is why I love it. When I pack this in my suitcase, I also stuff any miscellaneous items inside so I’m not wasting any space. It looks something like this.

Shoes: open-toed shoes are a no go for me on the plane, so I usually wear a pair of sneakers. Then I pack one pair of flat slides (slide them together and they take up less room) and one pair of heels. For heels, espadrilles are an easy, comfortable bet.

Got to leave some room for shopping, right?


Words by Alex Falconer
Photo by Brit Gill

July 11, 2018

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