Fitting 50 Garments Into 1 Carry-On

[trip style = any]

People often ask me how I fit everything into my carry-on and still look like I've got a wardrobe's worth of clothes. Whether I travel for a weekend or a month, on trip styles ranging from glamping to cold-climate sightseeing, it's ALWAYS with a carry-on.

This Thursday, I'm boarding a flight to Thailand with only a purse and a carry-on suitcase to sustain me for a 12-day trip style = sun + beach + luxe + urban adventure. While sightseeing in Bangkok, beaching it in Hua Hin and exploring Narita, Japan, I'll use packing techniques and outfit trickery to make it seem like I've lugged around a massive suitcase, yet all I'll need will be contained in a 14 x 9 x 22" space.

To give you a sense of how many items can actually fit into a boxy, hollow space, I've documented my Thailand packing process below from outfit chaos to suitcase order. Think about the exponential outfit possibilities with 50+ garments! I dare you to take the plunge and pack less. Less is more on the road. {PS. It's possible on business trips too! My husband brings the same size carry-on with two suits, downtime-wear, etc. for five days on the road.}

Airport wear: blazer, top, jeans, belt, shoes and pashminaPacked: flip flops, sandals, wooden wedges, shorts, pants, long skirt, short skirt, sweater, blazer, 5 dresses, 8 tops, 3 tanks, yoga clothes, 2 bathing suits, belt, scarf, toiletries, costume jewelry {limit 'good stuff' while you travel}, straightener, clutch, fold-flat beach bag, fold-flat hat, sunglasses, magazines/books and tech with plugins

Carry-On Secrets {Outfit Trickery}

  • Bring a bag that's nearing the airline's maximum allowable carry-on size.
  • Invest in a rolling suitcase that's black, tall and slim with wheels that don't protrude too much {short and wide bags in bright colors are ALWAYS targeted by nitpicky airlines}.
  • Bring a purse, murse {man bag} or laptop bag for extra items you'll need in-flight and store this under your seat {people who put double bags in the overhead bin on full flights are cheaters}.
  • If you're packing two shirts that are similar, go with one. Edit. Edit. Edit.
  • Don't worry about wearing the same garment twice, it's mission critical to carry-on survival and accessories will help distract from--gasp--wearing the same top as yesterday.
  • Opt for a higher amount of tops over bottoms.
  • Limit bulky jackets and blazers and wear these on the plane to save space in your bag. You can always take them off as soon as you board.
  • Pack in general color groups. For example, I haven't brought only blacks and whites, but rather a few color themes that will allow me to mix and match. Beyond this, have a little fun-- for example, my clutch is a subdued leopard print.
  • If needed, wash small garments while there {for 2-week+ trips, send garments out to be cleaned or find a laundromat}.

[photos by @tripstyler]