Fashion, TRAVEL

How to Pack for a Week Abroad in Just a Carry-On

Hey, everyone! It’s Hannah again! Thank you all SO much for your amazing feedback on my first post, it means more to me than you’ll ever know. About a month ago, the team and I were brainstorming summer content ideas when Chriselle asked me if I had given any thought to what I wanted my 2nd contributing post to be about. (ICYMI, you can read my first post here!)

“Yes!” I lied (sorry, Chriselle). I had in fact given zero thought as to what my second post would be. So I improvised: “Since I’m going to Madrid in a few weeks, one of the ideas I had was to write about how to pack for a week in a carry-on!”

“That’s a great idea, Hannah!” Chriselle exclaimed, “Perfect for summer. You should totally do it.”

Uh oh.

You see, I’m an over-packer. Like, two-suitcases-for-a-week-at-home kind of over-packer.  Very bad.  I straight up pack a small suitcase to spend the night at a friend’s place. Why is it that I wear the same jeans/sweaters/shoes on rotation but the second I’m packing for a trip I throw stuff I haven’t worn in months into my suitcase? But I wasn’t about to disappoint the boss lady so I embraced the challenge and you know what, it was kind of amazing.

I knew it was going to be warm in Spain, so bodysuits, cute tops, dresses, and shorts were the way to go. Which luckily, can be easily squashed into a tiny space, i.e, my carry on. But then, I had to decide which shoes to pack and we all know how much room shoes take up. I’ve been known to travel with 5+ pairs of shoes, but I cut it down to 3! (I’m quite proud of myself thank you very much)! I was visiting my younger brother who’s studying abroad, so a huge shout out to him for being such a good sport as I demanded an OOTD photo every day. Here’s everything I wore while in Madrid and a weekend in Barcelona:

Day 1

For my first day exploring Madrid, I grabbed my cut-offs, some lace up sandals and a cute lingerie top. In this photo, I’m jet lagged, my ankles are still swollen from the flight and I’m standing in the Plaza de España.

Day 2

For my day 2 look, I 100% completely outfit copied a girl I had seen at a coffee shop the day before. I wore my striped pants, a sweater because it was pleasantly chilly and my tennis shoes ‘cause I did a lot of walking.

Day 3

Can’t go wrong with a t-shirt, jeans and a top knot, right? My brother and I did a little shopping that day and a whole lot of eating. My hair took a turn for the worst on the trip- humidity forced me to wear my hair up and in ponytails. Rude.

Day 4

Here’s me in front of my Vespa. Kidding. Day 4 was pretty relaxed. My brother had class and I took the time to catch up on some much needed sleep. The same cut offs from Day 1, a black tank top and my new shoes and bag were the perfect casual look for stuffing my face with paella.

Day 5

Thank God for elevator mirrors because my brother had class all day and couldn’t take an outfit photo for me. I wore a super comfy maxi dress and my lace-up sandals for another day of shopping and catching the train to Barcelona!

Day 6

Barcelona had me singing Ed Sheeran and Cheetah Girls all weekend. I wore a knit tank-top, some cute silk shorts and my lace up sandals for a day of sightseeing. I can now say with 100% certainty that everyone should visit Park Güell before they die. It was amazing. Dinner plans?  More paella, of course.

Day 7

For my last day in Spain, I wore a button down dress that I picked up at Zara in Madrid a few days earlier. In LA, I’m not much of a “dress-girl “as I am a “t-shirt and jeans girl,” but this dress might have just turned me. Maximum chic with minimal effort.

Seeing Red

Back in LA, I have an entire drawer in my bathroom with way more makeup than any one face should wear. Editing down into one tiny pouch proved to be difficult yet liberating. I kept it pretty simple and neutral, but I just had to do my classic red lip!

I arrived back in LA late Sunday night and jumped right back into work on Monday. Though I was physically at the office, I was mentally still in Spain. Looking back at my challenge of packing for just a week in a carry-on, I can say that I was WAY too stressed about it. It really wasn’t that hard! I can also say that I still somehow managed to over pack?! It’s a gift, what can I say.

Would you guys ever pack in just a carry-on for a week abroad? I wanna know! Also, if you have any packing tips that you swear by, I wanna know those too! Let me know in the comments below and keep your eyes out for my next post on the blog!

x Hannah


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  • I travel a lot for work, and I’ve found that carry on only is the best travel gift you can give yourself. It’s so much quicker getting in and out of airports, and so much less stressful to easily be able to carry all your stuff alone. My proudest packing achievements are one week working in Germany + one week wandering through Italy and Croatia in a carry on; and a two week press tour through LA, Taiwan, and Japan in carry on. Oh, and a three week stint with press events in Munich and London followed by a tradeshow in Paris. It does involve washing things in the sink sometimes, and I’ve specifically bought clothing in certain fabrics to take up less space and not wrinkle.. but totally worth it.

  • Wanday says:

    I just cant! I’ve tried! I have made concessions however and check only 1 bag! I’ve attempted to pack as you have and later when at destinatiiin I find I don’t ‘feel’ like wearing what I brought. Ugh! So, I overpack. Better safe than sorry.

  • Loved all the cute outfits!! My two favorite outfits would be Day 1’s and Day 7’s, I love wearing dresses. They are a lot more comfortable. It looks like you were wearing the same sunglasses in all pictures and they went well with all of your outfits. I liked their look. Where are they from? You got some beautiful pictures of all the scenery as well, thank you for sharing. As for packing, I like you pack almost my whole closet. The way I pack is by laying everything flat not folding anything.

  • Love these outfit choices! Gorgeous.

  • Hannah Harris says:

    I love Hannah’s posts! My name is also Hannah but I’m still in high school and looking to go into an industry like this and she is such an inspiration to me. So relatable, would love to see more of her!

  • Alex says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I also going to Spain in two weeks, however I’m going to a congress so I have to dress a little bit more formal. I wish I could pack just a pair of jeans and shorts and many t-shirts. But I loved your make up choices!!! I’ll follow your advice. A brilliant and strong lip color always makes you look put together, so I’ll take a couple of lipsticks instead of 30 shades of shadows and eyeliner (which I usually do, I’m a make up overpacker).
    A little tip for all the people who are cold all the time (like me 🙁 ) : bye the nice, big jackets that turn into little bags, they can double as pillows!

  • You look great! I recently went away for 10 days with minimal clothes. Wish I read more blogs like this before I packed!
    Career & Lifestyle | Busy Girls

  • Great post! I also traveled with carry-on luggage with 3 days of outfits – it helped to have a washer/dryer in the apartment rental for 10 days in Paris.

  • Alesha Thompson says:

    Great job! I just challenged myself to the same thing when I went on a group trip to Nevada. I packed for a week in a carry-on! My best advice would be to pick a color scheme so you can mix and match everything. Since jeans and shorts can usually be worn more than once, you only need to pack one of each and then mix them with different tops. I packed 2 dresses but only wore one of them, but they were lightweight and easy to fold and didn’t take up much room. Also, wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane so you don’t have to pack them. I wore tennis-shoes on the plane and packed a pair of versatile sandals and a pair of heels for dressier occasions. I packed everything in packing cubes I found on amazon and when it was all said and done, I had plenty of room left over! (I even had room to pack a beach towel)

  • The more you travel, the easier it becomes to distinguish between what you need and what you don’t need. During the last 10 years I travelled abroad more than 12 times, ranging from just a weekend to three months, and I no find it relatively easy to pack all I need in just a backpack.

  • Brooke Alexa says:

    Awesome looks! Love your style, Hannah.

    xx Brooke

  • It’s hard to find educated people about this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  • Janet says:

    Black? Summer? Hello? It’s not about aesthetics, but do u know what black does when exposed to the sun? Creates a hot house on top of your body.
    P.S.:what do u wear if the weather goes bad?

  • Ashley says:

    Dang that’s quite a bit of stuff too! Impressive.

    XOXO, Ashley

  • Beautiful looks and pictures
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  • Elisa says:

    I usually pack in only one carry on, but it depends a lot on the destination!
    Thank you for sharing your tips!
    xx Elisa

  • Great tips! I’m traveling next week so these come in handy!

  • Ria says:

    This was wonderful! I’m guilty as charged for overpacking, always! But I think after reading this, I promise myself to build the courage to go on a trip with just a carry-on bag. I hope I can do it – thanks for the tips (and motivation) <3 xx

  • I’m the same way, always overpacking. Your post was fun to read! 🙂 Keep it up!

    XOXO //
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | NYC Petite Fashion Blogger

  • Elizabeth says:

    Honestly, I think just packing a carry on for a trip abroad would give me anxiety! LOL 😀 Hahaha I’m definitely an over-packer too, so I know the struggle! You did a marvelous job, though, and I loved each and every one of these looks!

    XO, Elizabeth

  • mainou says:

    Love this! Thanks for sharing =)

  • monique says:

    Good selection. I was in Spain last summer for two weeks and just brought a carry-on. I never over-pack anymore. I’ve gotten past the concern of whether someone sees me in the same item twice.

  • i actually loved this so much. I’ve planned a ton of city breaks this summer (I live in London) – so all this is great inspiration! x

  • You definitely didn’t skimp on style! I only packed a carryon when I went to China for a week, but I was pretty bummed out because I didn’t have any room to bring back souvenirs. From now on, I’m packing an extra duffle bag inside my suitcase for shopping abroad 🙂


  • Olivia says:

    Love this guide! I’m traveling soon and will probably end up bringing everything but the kitchen sink! I will definitely take your tips into consideration!

  • Jennifer says:

    This was very helpful! I’m going on a one week trip soon and this post definitely inspired me to think of some cool outfits. Great post!

  • Amy says:

    Awesome post! I am almost home from 20 days of traveling out of a carry-on and a backpack, but I cheated and brought laundry detergent to cut my packing in half!

  • Jandrew says:

    The only problem is if you love to shop. You may leave with 1 case and return with 2 !
    Dress The Part

  • Ray says:

    I love these tips, nice selection of outfits. Light and easy.

  • Jeanne says:

    I totally do it all the time ! I hate sainting for my suitcase when I arrive and I’m also terrified it will be lost… I love it it makes me feel light and free. You mention it quickly, it gets much more challenging in winter time, you should try it for the sake of a new post of course 😉

  • Jessica Lam says:

    I’ll be packing for Iceland in a few months with just a carry on (darn WOW air and their expensive luggage fees) but unfortunately will have to find a way to pack sweaters and pants haha. This was a super cute post!

  • Keri says:

    Such a pro packer! Can’t believe you only brought a carry-on. You definitely maximized the space because these outfits are amazing!

    Enclothed Cognition

  • […] embraced the challenge and you know what, it was kind of amazing. from The Chriselle Factor from Tumblr […]

  • La Bijoux Bella | by mia says:

    Great packing inspirational tips … I love traveling light! 🙂

    🌸LA BIJOUX BELLA 🌸| By Mia | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

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