FIVE WEEKS IN CARRY-ON ONLY
Summer holidays in Europe, five weeks away, and we took carry-on only bags. We're a family of three, our daughter just turned nine and ably carries her own pieces. Each of us took one roll-on bag and an additional personal bag. My husband and daughter took a backpack, and I brought a soft sided, zip-up Lacoste shopper. Most airlines allow two bags without any additional cost. Only one airline (Aer Lingus) checked to see if the weight was over 10 kilos.
Would I do it again?
Yes, a hundred times. Only a few inconveniences that I learned along the way. During the trip, I purchased toiletries that weren't my normal brands when I ran out of the 100ml sizes allowed on carry-on. We couldn't buy much because there wasn't extra room. I'm sure I saved money by not splurging in Milan and Paris; although I did end up squeezing in a few purchases: gifts, a new top; a dress; a GHD flat iron, and a belt. We couldn't buy wine or food products, because they have to go through checked luggage. But for me, these inconveniences were outweighed by the advantages.
Our five-week trip consisted of 4-6 nights in each destination, and for the most part was largely in places above 25C. Our itinerary: Milan, Lake Como, Sardinia, Megeve, Beaune, Paris, Dublin, and St. John's (Newfoundland). That meant lightweight clothes and outfits and looks that could be repeated. I brought dresses, a jumpsuit, jean skirt, and t-shirts, but kept to my style and stayed away from being overly casual. Note: See below for a complete packing list.
Why we did it?
The main reason we decided to pack light, was because it's so much better to not have to wait for your luggage when you get off a plane. What I didn't realize were the other advantages. It was incredibly easy to unpack and pack up. Whether rolling into a train station, taking the escalators or stairs instead of waiting for lifts, and packing up the rental car, it was easy every single time. It also made it simple for choosing what to wear, and doing laundry. With two accommodations along the way that had their own washer and dryers, we only had two loads in total.
I brought six pairs of shoes; I carried four pairs in my soft sided bag, one in the front pocket of my roll-on, and one pair worn. (As pictured above, left to right) Tory Burch platform lace-up espadrilles, Nike tennis shoes, Laurence Dacade block heel suede sandals, John Fluevog silver ankle boots, Stuart Weitzman Nudist Song heels, and rubber Birkenstock sandals. In retrospect I would have left the platform espadrilles at home, they were my bulkiest shoes, didn't work for 8 hours of walking, and can't be worn at night. I'm very glad I brought the Stuart Weitzman stilettos, they made my evening looks super chic, especially for Milan and Paris. During the days I traded back and forth between the sandals and the ankle boots. I wore the Birkenstocks to the pool and the beach.
In my roll-on I carried my entire capsule wardrobe for the trip. A long Isa Arfen gingham skirt, great for cooler days, and I also wore it on the plane because it was a bit bulky. Other bottoms included a knee-length denim pencil skirt by Current/Elliott, and a pair of black slim pants by J.Crew. I wore the black pants a lot in the evenings. I brought two cropped t-shirts from Bebe, one black and one black and white striped. For my other tops, I had an off the shoulder black silk top by Reformation, and a cropped denim short sleeve button down from Zara. All my tops worked well with the skirts, black pants, or layered over my navy jumpsuit from Australian label Neuw Denim. I brought two dresses, one from French label Sandro and the other from Australian label, Fleur Wood, both which could be worn during the day or night. For the beach and pools, I had two swimsuits and a coverup by Canadian designer, Obakki that also went easily from beach to bar. For occasional hikes or gym sessions, I had a pair of cropped leggings, a long Ivy Park t-shirt, and a black hoodie from Lululemon. For outerwear, I also packed a denim moto style jacket and a cap sleeve leather jacket by Australian label, Oroton.
Other contents not pictured include my little Marc Jacobs bag which held my USB lines and a multi USB travel charger. That piece could charge up to four devices, great for travel and at home. The bag also doubled as a super casual clutch for the beach. I also had three Hammamas towels, so incredibly light weight, and dry super fast. I only used them in Sardinia, but they were out almost every day. I had three zip lock bags of toiletries, my makeup bag, sunglasses, a baseball cap, and my devices - phone, iPad mini. For jewellery I brought one long necklace and two pairs of earrings. Underwear wise, I had 10 pairs along with one strapless bra and one regular that I wore. I brought two purses, a turquoise LV Louisa PM Bag which I packed in my roll-on, and my creme coloured YSL Medium shoulder bag.
What I didn't pack
When I planned out my pack list, I originally wanted to bring more pieces, but ended up culling them, which meant I didn't pack several things. What didn't make my cut were jeans, white pants, blazer, rain jacket, a black dress, my favourite Valentino rock stud stilettos, my Superga white sneakers, and so many other toiletries. Alas, I didn't really miss them, except maybe the jeans for when we were in Dubin and Newfoundland where it was much cooler and very casual.
After we returned home to Calgary, we had a few days before we headed west to Nelson, British Columbia. A couple loads of laundry and we were ready to go again. I've been travelling across many countries for many years now, but this trip was one we would remember forever. A post on my full trip is coming soon...
Travel widely, travel lightly.