Packing in a carry on bag for a trip of 5-days or less is really important to me. I absolutely hate checking a bag because:
1. It takes a lot of time- I usually end up waiting in line for 20+ minutes each way to check, plus waiting for my bag to come at my destination.
2. I'm paranoid of the airlines losing my bags- I want to have all of my belongings when I get to my destination and when I get home. I hate to not have everything I need with me.
Even though I hate checking a bag, I'm also not willing to sacrifice having what I want to wear and what I need to have a great vacation. I recently returned home from a 4-day trip to Miami and documented exactly how I fit everything in my carry on bag, while still packing everything I wanted for the trip.
The most important thing you'll need is a great carry on bag! I use the Victorinox Werks Traveler Carry on Bag. It is 20 inch, but you can actually also order a 22inch bag, which is bigger and still have it fit in the overhead bin. I love this bag because I can carry it by myself and lift it into the overhead bin without a problem. This bag goes on sale a few times a year, so keep on the lookout for when it drops in price.
For a trip like this I needed a handful of items. Here is what I packed:
Shoes: Tennis shoes, going out wedges and Toms. I was wearing sandals on the plane. If you need to save more room, you can always wear your tennis shoes on the plane. I didn't want to though, so I packed them :)
Toiletries: One toiletry bag, one brush, one makeup bag and my hair straightener. For my toiletry bag, I use the ebags pack flat bag. It fits a bunch of stuff in it, but also packs flat. It has a small hanger where you can hang the bag on in your hotel room. I have 8+ bottles in my toiletry bag on this trip.
Bags: One going out at night purse, one foldable beach bag and my beach hat
Going Out Clothes: One romper, two maxi dresses, one going out top (I wore jeans on the flight). Maxi dresses actually take up a lot of room and if I needed more room, I would have switched them out for shorter dresses. BUT, I really wanted to wear the maxis so I made room.
Day Time Clothes: One day time dress, one pair of jean shorts, two day time tank tops, one pair of PJ bottoms and PJ tank and one pair of relaxing shorts and tank. Also underwear!
Bathing Suits: Two bathing suits- One key thing here that saved me space was making sure I could wear my day time outfits over my bathing suits OR on their own. I ended up wearing one day time dress over my bathing suit and wearing the tanks on their own.
Work Out Clothes: I wanted to work out on vacation so I also packed one pair of workout pants, tank and sports bra. I stuffed my workout socks inside of my tennis shoes.
The key to fitting all of the clothing items in that I use packing cubes! I have one full-sized cube and one half-sized cube. I roll my items up and put them into the packing cubes.
Using the cubes and rolling your clothes saves a ton of room and makes it very easy for everything to fit and saves you a ton of room.
Voila- here is my bag fully packed and ready to go to MIami.
I managed to pack everything I wanted for a 4-day trip, including tennis shoes, workout clothes, bathing suits, beach bag/hat AND 3 going out outfits in just one carry on. With the combination of rolling clothes, using packing cubes and having the right gear, you can easily bring everything you want with you on your next trip!