How to Fit Everything You'll Need for a Summer Getaway Into a Single Carry-On

The year was 2001, and after traveling for nearly 22 hours packed like cattle in the back of economy class, I finally landed in Australia ready to begin my exotic vacation. Unfortunately, I arrived alone; my 50-pound duffle I'd checked earlier remained lost at my hometown airport for over a week. Dressed in my filthy airplane sweats, I swore to myself and the luggage gods I would never check another bag. Twelve years later with over 20 extended trips under my belt, I'm still a strictly carry-on-only girl. It is possible to still look stylish and have a variety of options all packed into one easy bag for a two- to three-week trip.  It's hard to quit the check-in—but once you do, you'll never look back.

Click through for the essential items you need for a glamorous getaway, all of which can fit easily into a carry-on bag.

file

Carry-On Luggage

There's a reason this duffle is called the Mother Lode; it fits an incredible amount of clothing inside. I've had mine for five years and it still looks brand new. Meanwhile, the bright travel tote on the right works great as both a second carry-on and a purse for your entire trip. It's lightweight and easy to organize.


file

Travel Essentials

The Aesop Geneva pack has all the basic beauty products you could possibly need. All the bottles are under three ounces each, so they can easily pass through security. Bucky's sleep mask is ultra-padded and blocks out all light, giving you a great night's sleep whether you're searching for zzz's on a plane or in an uncomfortable hotel bed. When traveling abroad, you'll have to pull your passport out for inspection multiple times—so it might as well be in a fabulous and sturdy case. And this Samsonite neck pillow takes up very little room, yet can be blown up to provide you with extra rest on an overnight flight.


file

Shoes

As shocking as it seems, you can get away with only two pairs of shoes on a long trip. These Cole Haan nude pumps will go with everything, and the stacked heel offers both comfort and style. Meanwhile, the Chucks are ideal for long distance walking—perfect for sightseeing.
file

Shorts

Three pairs of shorts—in linen, chino and classic denim—is more than enough to mix and match.
file

Pants

Four pairs may not seem like that much, but in addition to shorts and dresses it's more than enough for a three-week trip. It's important to bring a variety of lengths and fabrics to account for a multitude of weather possibilities and activities.


file

Shirts

These tops are perfect for layering, and pair well with both shorts and pants. On a breezy, sunny day, don't be afraid to match J.Crew's red sweater with a pair of shorts for a little extra warmth that still lets you show some leg. Be bold and layer this Rag & Bone sleeveless denim shirt on top of a printed blouse or basic tee—or simply wear it solo!


file

Shirts

Try this Madewell tee under that red sweater, or beneath Mango's patterned blouse for days when it's colder outside. Of course, it's also perfect on its own!
file

Dresses

These two dresses are fun and flirty, but neutral enough to pair with any accessories you choose. Plus, their jersey fabrication makes them easy to pack—they won't wrinkle, even after being stuffed into a packed suitcase.


file

Outerwear

Bring a blazer and a cardigan—both are perfect for layering and give you options to dress up or dress down your look. Throw on this cozy white knit cardi for days spent sightseeing and café-hopping. Sport Banana Republic's blazer for a night out at the ballet or a swanky restaurant.
file

Swimsuit

A one-piece is a safer bet for an exotic trip where a beach isn't the main attraction. The plunging neckline and back give you an opportunity to show some skin, but the suit still offers enough coverage and support for any wild, watery adventure that may come your way.