You packed what?!? In a carry on?

Can you vacation for a week with only a carry on?
After traveling so much for work, I finally put together a packing list for my travels. I also put together my briefcase and travel bag so that they are ready for any trip at a moment’s notice. Now it takes me less than an hour to pack and get to the airport. This practice has served me well for work, but it also comes in handy for vacation travels too. Most people tend to over pack for vacations (and in general) and after a couple of mishaps where my checked bag didn’t arrive when I did, I have downsized things. This downsizing led me to stop checking any bags and just use a carry on suitcase along with my briefcase. Now, I even do the same thing when we are on vacation.
I just took a week-long trip to Florida to see the shuttle Discovery launch. The weather near Orlando and Cape Canaveral was supposed to be warm, with a chance of rain. Jacksonville was supposed to be colder with rain likely – both of these things led me to over pack for warm weather and rainy, colder weather…
I’ll admit, my carry on was bigger than what I usually take for business because it was for a family trip and I wanted to have enough entertainment on hand to minimize the whining and fighting among my three kids. Usually I have my pre-stocked briefcase, but this time I had to recreate that with a slightly bigger bag. I used one of my Creative Memories scrapbook bags that was square and big enough to fit a 12×12 album – this turned out to be perfect in many ways. I know it wasn’t quite the Sharon Stone “run off to Paris at a moment’s notice with a LBD and a thong in your purse” strategy, but it worked for me this trip.
Carry On Contents:
  • Book 1 – for me – Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation (you’ll need the tissues on this list) – I finished this
  • Book 2 – for the kids – Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (the original) – We never touched this book
  • Uno card deck – We never touched these
  • Phase 10 card deck – We never touched these
  • Bandana – used once
  • Golf ball – good for rolling out knots when you travel – definitely used
  • Tennis Ball – good for keeping kids entertained no matter where you are, and its good for rolling out knots
  • Mini-nerf football – good for keeping kids entertained, this and the tennis ball ended up in the kids’ bag as the trip went on
  • Jabra hands-free speaker phone and USB charging cable (I have small ears and don’t like to use a blue-tooth headset, is I bring this mini speaker phone that attaches to the visor)
  • Toilet Kit (in its very worn zip lock baggy)
  • Tissues
  • Lip Balm
  • Lip stick
  • Mints, meds (all in same tin)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand Sanitizing wipes (in a travel pack)
  • Gum (2 packs – in in carry on, one in purse)
  • Chocolate
  • Hand cream
  • Sudoku (a few pages from our daily calendar)
  • Small binder clip (must have come from my briefcase)
  • 3 pens, 1 highlighter (I like to take notes while I read)
  • Business cards – you never know who you will meet (and you need one anyway inside each bag for ID)
  • Knitting projects – 3 projects in their own zip lock baggies
  • 1. Socks that I had knitted and wanted to knit again slightly smaller (I really should have started these before I left because I needed to see the You Tube Video on the figure-8 cast on method to start these toe-up socks)
  • 2. A new sweater project to be knitted out of this cool Japanese silk and stainless steel yarn – it is knitted in the round and much faster than than those darn socks that I had to start 8 times.
  • 3. Hat – knitting it for a friend of a friend of a friend to replace one she loves. Tried this twice on this trip – one crochet, which I undid, and one knitted, which is part way done.
  • Knitting kit (in a cosmetic bag) – scissors, stitch markers, etc.
  • Tape measure – not sure why this ended up in there, probably just moved it from my knitting bag
  • All in one tool – ruler, paper clips, stickies, tape flags (all useful for knitting and note taking)
  • Camera (very nice, 15 MP camera)
  • Telephoto lens
  • USB reader for camera memory cards
  • Camera charger – vitally important on vacation
  • USB Cable – for kids devices
  • 6 Magazines from my reading stack (this is what I thought I could read on the flights out – but with a read-eye, I slept the majority of the time –  this just made my bag heavier later)
  • Other printed reading materials (for work and pleasure)
Purse (I fit my purse in the carry-on)
  • iPad and travel keyboard
  • IPad wall charger
  • Headphones
  • iPhone USB charger cable
  • Business cards
  • Latest pictures of my kids
  • Gift cards
  • Lip stick
  • Lip balm
  • Travel/disposable toothbrushes
  • 2 Safety pins, paper clips
  • USB memory stick (8GB)
  • Fountain Pen refills
  • Cash/Change (I always get more at the airport just in case)
  • iPhone (in its case which doubles as my wallet)
  • Cash/Card case
  • Extra memory cards (I even bought more while there)
  • Vitamins
  • Sand – this was unintentional
  • Receipts – this was intentional
Suitcase Contents
1. Small Outside pocket
  • Eye Shades (I put this in there each trip)
  • Ear plugs
  • Allergy meds
  • Computer power cord
  • USB connector for phone/ipad
  • Spritzer (for moisturizing my face)
  • Tea bag (or two)
  • Energy bar
  • Conference pin
  • Cards (needed only for travel – i.e. Hertz)
  • Airline drink tickets (these are also in my briefcase)
  • Hair band, hair clip
  • Pen (or two)
  • Fountain Pen Refills
  • Nail polish (in its own zip lock baggy)
2. Bigger Outside Pocket
  • Pen for journals (I use a specific one for journaling)
  • 4 Journals (mine and each kids)

There was no room left for the usual magazines or work files this trip (the paper goods in this outside pocket can make this bag heavy and front heavy…)

3. Mini zip pocket on the big outside pocket
Plastic bag, zip lock bag (This saved me once from having to give up my newly purchased Japanese cosmetics at a security check point in SFO when they were clearly  unsettled in how to enforce their ransom regulations on liquids – because at that point they were all making it up as they went along).
4. Inside the Suitcase
Little top pocket
  • golf tees, ball marker
  • nail polish remover packets
  • jewelry (trip related) – this time, 2 necklaces (which I didn’t wear)
  • ceramic nail file (which I bought on the trip)
Bigger pocket
  • Girlie things – tampons and pads, individually wrapped (so they can go in your briefcase or purse if needed)
Trip specific Clothes – (in addition to what I wore on the plane – which was long pants, long sleeved shirt, cardigan, scarf, closed toed shoes)
  • 2 pairs of shoes (flat sandals and heeled sandals)
  • Long-sleeved pajamas
  • 2 bras (I could have taken just one other or none)
  • 2 bathing suits (I could have taken just one, but didn’t even end up wearing any swim wear)
  • Bathing suit cover-up pants – these were definitely for a beach trip
  • Jeans
  • Light weight pants (didn’t end up wearing these)
  • Cropped pants
  • Shorts
  • 4 long-sleeve shirts ( could have used less of these and more short sleeved ones)
  • 3 short-sleeve shirts
  • Scarf 1
  • Scarf 2
  • 3/4 sleeve sweater
  • Linen hoodie-type pull-over sweater
  • 4 pairs of socks – didn’t need all of these because I didn’t take tennis shoes
  • 8 undies – I always pack an extra (and one in the carry on if they make me check my bag)
*I completely forgot my rain coat and straw hat… which I would have worn on the plane (for the coat) and smashed/rolled into my bag (for the hat).
*I stuffed the (empty until you are through security) metal water bottle and baggy of food in the kids backpack, otherwise, that would have been in my carry-on too.
I know this seems like a lot once its put down on this inventory list like this, but most everything in my carry on or purse is very small or travel-sized. I usually color coordinate my clothes so I don’t have to bring 7 of everything for a week long trip. I rolled everything in the bag so that it fit better in the bag and in/around my shoes. My favorite part of this bag, and I have never seen one like it since I bought this one on a lark at Tuesday Morning, is the computer pocket on the side – the computer slips into its own pocket and lays cushioned between clothes.
Have happy and safe travels – please share any of your own packing tips and tricks.
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17 responses to “You packed what?!? In a carry on?

  1. Wow! That was a lot of packing… but a good list to help those who might need some ideas. Lucky you got to go see the shuttle blast off. I’ve always wanted to do that and never got the chance. Love your blog title. Very clever! Visiting from 31dbbb.

  2. Holy Cow! I cannot believe you fit all that stuff in the carryon! And I must ask – were you allowed to take knitting needles on the plane? I’ve actually wondered about this before and though for sure they wouldn’t allow them; if they won’t allow nail files I can’t imagine they allow those.
    One thing I like to do when I travel (to minimize on the liquids) is to take a snack size Ziploc bag and fill it with cotton balls (I count one for each night I’m traveling and put one spare) and then I squeeze eye makeup remover all over them. Then I close the bag and let them saturate. Then, while I’m on my trip, I just take out a moist cotton ball and use it to remove my eye makeup at night. No need to bring the bottle of remover!
    Thanks for this awesome list! It inspires me to cut down even more. You’re so right about over packing – I’m a planner at heart, so I like to always be prepared. However, I’ve learned over the years that you can still be streamlined and prepared!
    Hope you enjoyed Jax & Orlando!

    • Knitting needles apparently aren’t a security risk. I have never been asked to not take them. Why nail files are more dangerous than knitting needles, I don’t know, but I haven’t had any issues taking my knitting on the plane. I am totally a planner and don’t like to be caught unprepared, so I have pared down almost everything in my bags to small sized versions. I love your tip for the make-up remover – that definitely saves space. The only drawback to taking such a small bag is that it doesn’t leave a lot of room for purchases made during the trip. I actually had to check it when I came back from Barcelona because I brought back some wonderful wine from that trip!
      We did have a really nice trip to Florida and Georgia! We ended up driving North to Savannah and then visiting the forts along the coast, working our way back to Orlando and Cape Canaveral for the Shuttle launch. Next time I am there, I will give you a shout!

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  4. I don’t know how you did it. I don’t travel much, but one pair of my husband’s shoes alone fill up the inside of a carry on suitcase. Besides we’re drivers (well, my hubby is, I’m just a passenger). My husband doesn’t like to fly, it’s too expensive, and I have no desire to drag a baby through the new security. Mostly I just like to stay home 🙂 , no packing involved.

    • I love it when I can be a passenger! I get so much knitting done as a passenger. My hubby gets tired when driving so I end up doing the lion’s share of driving when we travel. Besides, it gives me peace of mind 🙂 Taking kids through security can be a game but mostly it is a pain, especially if you are in any kind of hurry!

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  6. Amazing! I am so right there with you. This is right up my alley!
    I do love your blog. Mine is in a similar niche, well sort of…if you stretch it. From the blog challenge.

    Sandra
    “Inspiration To Lead Healthier And Wealthier Lives”
    http://www.reallifeinaminute.blogspot.com

  7. Visiting in from 31 DBBB SitsGirls – I must say – that is way impressive.
    I usually roll my clothes to get more room, less smush wrinkles. Impressive though!! I am bookmarking this for future reference!! 🙂

  8. Wow! I can’t believe how much you packed! I travel very light. It’s amazing that we now need all these chargers, etc for our technology. I think it would be awesome to create a special carry on bag that organizes all the techno gadgets. Anyone else thought of this?

    • I haven’t seen any special bags for electronics (just desk chargers for all of the charging), but I still keep an eye out when shopping. I love that my bag has a full pocket on the outside, not just an insert with a zipper. This allows the bulk of the chargers to fit in there without a problem. Thanks for making a cool suggestion!

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