Here is my Guide to the Basics of Carry-on Packing for Women (1 bag)

With most airlines now charging for checked bags, carry-on only travel is becoming more popular when traveling on a budget. If the savings are not incentive enough going carry-on only, 1 bag makes life on the road much easier by not having lug around a huge amount of luggage or to not have to wait in line at the airport. Trust me once you do it you will never look back. Taking the plunge into carry-on only can be a scary journey here is a carry-on only packing list for women.

The Bag

Choosing the right bag is the first choice you will need to make so you know how much you can bring. If you are not sure of some great carry-on bags you can check out this post on Choosing the right carry-on only pack.


Then comes the clothes,I’d say the hardest part for most. A good rule of thumb is no more than 2 of each type of clothing except for underwear and socks (unless you are happy doing laundry every day). You shouldn’t bring more than 6 different things to wear on top and 4 on the bottom. This will keep your bag light.
Summer Example:2 tanks, 2 t-shirts, 1 light sweater, 1 jacket, 1 dress 1 pants, 2 shorts/skirt.

Winter Example: 2 short sleeved, 2 long sleeved, 1 sweater 1 jacket, 3 pants, 1 dress.

Packing cubes are going to be your best friend when trying to do carry on only as they help to organize your stuff and also help to pack it down Eagle Creek and eBags  both make great packing cubes.

Always roll your clothes, rolling keeps your clothes from wrinkling it also helps them store down smaller. You will be amazed how much you can fit in your bag by rolling your clothes and using packing cubes.


Try looking for samples of things if it’s a short trip, and travel sized versions for trips up to 2 weeks. I avoid liquids when ever possible trying to always get the solid version of items. Lush makes great shampoo bars.  Don’t live near a Lush? You can pick up J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo.  My favorite lotion bar is Honey House Naturals Bee Bar, it lasts for a long time and doesn’t leave my skin greasy. I always opt for regular conditioner in a Gotoob Travel Bottle  because the conditioner bar just does not cut if for my thick hair. I almost always bring tweezers and nail clippers with a file. Body wash or soap, face cream,and deodorant.

Medical Supplies
You can usually buy whatever you need when you get there but I like to bring a little of the basics so I can get by until I can get to a pharmacy.

Bring minimal amounts of jewelry, keep necklaces separated with straws and small earrings together poked through a business card. I would limit yourself to one gold and one silver necklace; one short, one long and a few pairs of earnings.

This one is hardest for me because I love shoes. I would suggest bringing 1 pair runners/walking shoes, 1 pair collapsible flats, 1 pair flip flops (for showers and the beach) and 1 pair walking sandals (summer) or 1 pair boots that will pack down (winter).

for outwear, you want to choose something that is water and windproof but also semi-stylish. I would go for a slimmer fitting black jacket because it can likely be semi-dressed up. I love the Marmot Essential Jacket because it looks rather stylish on yet is very functional. If you are going somewhere cold you should also take a thin down coat that can collapse into nothing like Icebreaker Women’s Helix Coat.


I personally usually like to bring a medium sized purse but if you plan to do some trekking or don’t like to carry a purse then a day pack is for you. I generally choose a collapsible backpack over a bigger bag so I can throw it in my larger bag without taking up much space but if you carry a lot of tech or camera gear with you a more substantial may be needed. My go to travel purse is Travelon Anti-theft Ltd Hobo Bag and a collapsible backpack is Outlander Packable Backpack.

Turkish towel

I love my Turkish Towel it is likely the most versatile thing in my bag. I have used it as a towel, wrap, skirt, beach cover up, beach blanket, scarf, blanket, pillow case and I am sure more… They are so much nicer on your skin than most travel towels and dry in pretty much the same time without that nasty funky smell most pack towel start to get.

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