Monday, January 19, 2015

How to (over) pack for a few days in NYC.. using only a carry on!

If you would like to see all my travel posts, including recaps, tips & recommendations and packing guides, please visit my travel page.

So the whole not checking luggage and only using carry on bags is super popular right now. It's so much easier - you don't have to wait for your bag, worry about it getting lost, stolen or mixed up.. Not to mention sometimes airlines charge you to check a bag, how rude. So, all the wannabe cool kids are on the carry on only bandwagon. Yep, me too.


I showed you how you could do it for a 2 week 'winter' trip to Australia and there are countless other posts in bloglandia for more or less time and different destinations. Now we all know that where I'm from doesn't get super cold, so I use the term winter lightly. But anyway. I still managed to fit all that in a teensy tiny suitcase, so I thought it would be easy peasy to do it for our (real) winter trip to NYC, and for Europe later this year.

You know how you feel like you know everything there is to know about something and you couldn't possibly learn more? I mean I packed 2 weeks worth of clothes in a carry on suitcase, I could pack a few days with no problem, for Pete's sake.


Obviously I was wrong. Well, not quite wrong, just not very smart.

Here's what I packed (most items were old or sold out, so items are just similar options):


// Grey coat // Bow dress // Combat boots // Booties // 

The above links are affiliate links, meaning if you click, I get like 2 cents. Thank you!

Ok, here it all is (used a maxi dress in lieu of RTR dress):


All in the bag.. doesn't look like it's gonna close...


Magic! Ok, maybe some pulling, swearing and thanking the designer person for making the bag extend. It's kinda open in the below picture, but I promised it closed all the way.


Ok, now as you saw I put everything in there - including the clothes I wore on the plane. There are no camis, pjs or underwear in the photos (cause that would be weird), so you can just assume once you took out your outfit to wear, you'd have enough room for those things. Plus, I didn't roll or do anything fancy except sit on the bag to help it close. Just kidding. I also packed my makeup, hair stuff, the backup RTR dress and a gift - I promise it all fit.

The best thing about these bags is that they can be carried as a back pack, a messenger bag or even by handle. They are super comfy, I mean not as comfortable as wheeling a suitcase behind you, but comfortable enough for what they are. They fit in the overhead bins just fine - the real test will be if they fit in the overhead bins of the planes in Europe.


Here are the outfits I had planned:


Here's what I should have packed:


// Leggings // Blue jeans // Beige beanie // Grey beanie // Black coat // Grey coat // 
// Black scarf // Plaid scarf // Red scarf // Booties // Nikes /Hunters //

The above links are affiliate links, meaning if you click, I get like 2 cents. Thank you!

What got the cut and why?

- A pair of jeans. I didn't need 3 bottoms, thick leggings and one pair of jeans would have been fine.

- 2 sweaters. I had my London sweater, which I love but it wasn't comfortable under a coat and it wasn't very warm, so it would get cut. The snowflake sweater was cute but so chunky and took up so much room, plus it was very similar to the grey cowl neck sweater. So cut the snowflake sweater, keep the cowl neck and the plain grey sweater.

- The vest. Vests and I are done. I know everyone loves them, but they don't work for me, no matter how hard I try. If I am cold enough for a vest, I am also in need of a coat or jacket and then I can't get the blasted thing over the stupid vest. So I didn't wear the vest once. It's now in the eBay pile.

- The blazer. I only wore it to dinner and Wicked. I don't love blazers and I am stupid because I keep trying to make them work. Also in the eBay pile. I wouldn't have needed it - or my booties - if I didn't rent the dress from RTR which I don't regret - though it was a pain to find a UPS drop box (ended up begging a UPS driver to take it for me). I could have just worn my coat over the dress, seeing as I had to wear it over the blazer anyway.

- My long cardigan. Fine in theory, too hot with a coat, too cold without.

- The JustFab boots. They took up too much room on the way home (wore them on the way there) and I should have known they wouldn't have been comfortable for all the walking we planned on doing.

- A scarf. I would have gotten rid of the beige scarves, neither were thick enough on their own and it was silly to wear them together when I could have just brought a thicker black one to be worn on it's own.

What would I have added?

- Another coat. Since I got rid of the cardigan, some sweaters, jeans and the vest, there'd be plenty of room for another coat.

- Another beanie. The only things that are going to be photographed are your beanie, scarf and coat. Hence why all my pictures look like they could have been taken on the same day.

- An extra top. I brought sweaters because I thought they were the best option, but they took up too much room and it would have been better to bring another top like my Ann Taylor tunic (love!) because it's comfortable under the coats, but still cute when you inevitably go inside where they are blaring the heaters.

- Rainboots and maybe sneakers. I ended up buying some sneakers when we were there because my JustFab boots killed my feet. I don't care if I looked like a tourist, my feet were on clouds after that. However, because it rained so much, my feet were sopping wet the whole time. I don't own Hunters, or any rainboots, but they would have been brilliant. Comfy to walk around in and waterproof.

It's not like photos are the only thing that matter, but it's nice that's all. Call me vain. I probably could skip the other coat if it came down to it, but the other beanie would have been a good idea.

2 rules I always try and stick by, carrying on or checking:

1. make sure you have enough room for the shopping you are inevitably going to do
2. bring a boy, they always pack less and you can put some stuff in their bag


So after all this, am I ready to pack for a 2 week summer holiday in Europe? Of course, I mean seriously... how hard can it be?


Are you a carry on only-er? Or a dedicated bag checker?

39 comments:

  1. Wow that's a great bag! You fit a lot in there! I'm not a big fan of vests either... I have one but I don't wear it much. I have only been on a plane once in my life (I know, I need to travel more... I WANT to travel more...) but when I went I had a big suitcase and a carry on. I don't remember what I took. Compared to you I took WAYYY too many things. I remember not even wearing half the stuff I took. This post is great for any future trips i might take, and I love the drawing about girl vs. boy... girls make everything so complicated haha

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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  2. WOW, you did an amazing job! I am a serial over-packer too, I just always think 'what about this ONE thing'. so bad, I know, but oh well! We have the Southwest card, so that's the only airline we fly which means one free checked back, wooP!

    Love all the outfits you packed, lady.

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  3. This was like reading a blog post written by a magician. "Ok, now as you saw I put everything in there..." Nothin' up my sleeve... Your packing skills are way impressive.

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  4. I seriously hate checking a bag when I travel so I almost always try to pack everything in a carry on. In fact I don't remember the last time I actually checked a bag LOL! You managed to get a ton of stuff in that carry on girl, I'm impressed!!

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  5. I am a serial over-packer too! However, I have been cutting back! When I went to Chicago in cold weather, I only packed a carry-on and when DG and I took the train to DC, we packed both of our stuff in one suitcase. I've been impressed! xo

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  6. Haha I'm an over-packer as well but with all the smaller trips I've been making lately I've converted to the carry-on strategy as well. Good tip on the hat/scarf idea since they get photographed the most in winter. I also always wear my coat and bulky boats in the airport so they don't have to be packed.

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  7. loved your tips! i feel the same way about vests. my arms are what get cold. loved what yu packed though! that dress is super adorable! happy monday...can we be happy on a monday?? ;)

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  8. I'm definitely a carry-on person too when I do fly, which isn't often. I just hate the three-ounce liquid rule, ugh. But you did great with this, damn! Remind me to send you a link which may help you with Europe packing... and hey, you won't need heavy sweaters and wool coats and boots so that alone should make packing less bulky, right??

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  9. Great post! I always over pack too but in the cosmetics department, one day I will come to understand that it's not okay to take extra chapsticks and body creams because they are sold everywhere!!! haha
    And I have a big debate towards over packing scarves, I think they take up space for other things that you could actually buy on your trip but they bring an outfit to a different level! Big moral dilemma that maybe won't be resolved in this lifetime :)

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  10. ok every outfit that you packed was perfect! I love them all! ps where did you get your boots? and thanks for the tips!

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  11. I love everything you packed and how you went back and explained what you would have left out. It is so hard to pack everything in a carry-on. I have done it a few times for four to five day trips, but I am not sure I could do it for Europe! Does your airline not offer a free checked bag for Europe?

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  12. I am a complete and total over packer, but I need to take this approach more. I haven't needed to, but I have a couple of trips this summer that I am going to def work on planning out my outfits more to avoid over packing because paying $50 or more for luggage is not an option.

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  13. I always over pack. ALWAYS!!! I love all your outfits that you chose and the fact you got them in a carry on rocks my world! I try to carry on if I have to fly. Ain't nobody got time for lost luggage!

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  14. I am amazed that you fit all of that into that bag! I would never in a million years think you could get everything in there. I always end up taking a rolling suitcase and a backpack and probably don't need to. I actually did really well packing to visit Alyssa - my capsule wardrobe made picking out my outfits super easy ;) I still had a to bring a giant suitcase (half of which was filled by my air mattress and running shoes/clothes, but my actual clothes only took up a little bit of room!

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  15. OMG, I way over pack. We took 3 suitcases with us to Australia. One giant one and 2 carry-on size. I took so much more than I actually wore, and I couldn't buy as much while I was there because of it.

    I'm quite impressed by hoe much you fit in that one bag!

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  16. With the hundreds of shoes that I bring on a trip this may be near impossible for me hahah! But how amazing is that bag?! You fit so much!! You did good girl!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

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  17. I tend to check a bag only because I am super specific about my hair and makeup products and they are forever over the 3oz. You paired it down well, and I am with you I don't get the point of vests! It's too cold here to keep your arms exposed.

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  18. Wow, you did good! I used to be a carry on girl, but I think I've gotten a bit lazy. Now instead of actually planning ahead, I just pack everything I own into a big bag and I'm set...right? OK, I have been making some progress lately as I've learned that I only like to wear certain things. I've stopped packing items that I've owned for a year yet have never worn. Maybe someday I'll get back to my carry on roots! Air Canada actually charges for checked luggage now, so I'm definitely more likely to put a little more effort into it! It's pretty nice to get off the plane and head straight for the exit signs.

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  19. For short trips I'm definitely a carry on person, but the last time I went to Europe for 2 weeks I definitely checked a bag. Scott and I are supposed to go this year and while I'd love to only take a carry-on, I don't think I can do it....its so hard, but you are right you really only need like 2 pairs of pants and then a crap ton of shirts and sweaters. We'll see how I do as we get closer.

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  20. Ooh, I love this type of post. So organized and detailed! I am a check-in only person. There is no possible way for me to get all my liquids into a small bag. I don't even want to think about going there. I hear you on breaking up with vests. I'm in the same boat. Sorry to hear you don't love blazers though, because I think you look great in the one you put in your ebay pile. BUT - you have to love it. :)

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  21. That bag is fantastic! (Looks like my camera bag)
    I hate packing to go for a weekend to Nashville... I just am NOT a traveler.

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  22. If it's going to be a super stretch, I will check my bag. Carrying a ton of crap in airports then sitting on planes totally destroys my back and neck and I end up going for massages after travel is over. Might as well pay to check the bag.

    I do always do a post-op: what should I have taken? Not taken? And make notes for the next time I make a similar trip. I finally have my packing down to a science - I know me and how many times I'm willing to re-wear/re-pair things.

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  23. I love your wardrobe! Such cute but practical outfits. I'm am awful at over packing entirely way too much stuff for trips. I don't think I'd ever be able to just do a carry on, even for a short trip.

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  24. I have learned to pack uber lightly. it's kinda of a gift and a curse because sometimes I forget things. A lot of times really.

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  25. I think you are one of the best packers ever - it all fit so that's a win!!! I like that you take pictures of what you're going to wear - I need to start doing that since I have a trip next week!! xo, Biana - BlovedBoston

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  26. I'm a major overpacker! I'm always afraid I will miss certain things if I don't bring them, even though I really don't! When will I learn?? ;)

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  27. I'm a bag checker - I hate keeping up with stuff when I travel. I check everything and put my Nook and water bottle in my purse while wearing a jacket (I'm always cold).
    I like to have options and suck at trying to do the mix and match packing.

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  28. I enjoyed reading this funny yet insightful post. I don't travel enough for it to apply to me...but I'll save the tips for the future when I have the $$$ to become a jet-setter. Happy Monday, Kristen :)
    http://www.lovecompassionatelee.com/thinkoutloud/2015/1/19/11915

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  29. way to go girl! i always carry on my bags too -- even on international flights! i am terrified of the airlines losing my luggage and not having anything to wear on vacation (it happened to my friend on her honeymoon in greece!) its also nice not to carry around a heavy bag... xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  30. I don't understand the checking of the bag hate. But I also don't understand how to not overpack, so carry on only has never been an option for me!

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  31. So I literally can only pack half of my carry on because a certain someone is a terrible overpacker and I get all the overload can't fit on the way home extras......my rule is pack lots of underwear, black everything and a few accent color pieces. Love this post girl super informative!

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  32. With the exception of our trip to Europe, I haven't checked a bag since 2006 when they lost my luggage for 24 hours but it felt like a lifetime. I definitely think I'll take a backpack next time I fly somewhere it just looks so much easier than my cute tote that I had to have. Very good tips for trying to take less things. I read once to pack underwear you don't care about throwing away, so I've done that before haha!

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  33. This is great. I have never been a carry-on only packer. Usually we take a lot of road trips so it is kind of moot... but I tried really hard when we went back to NOLA to pack light. I was proud that I did it, very glad when we went to check in for our flight and the line to check a bag was soooooooooooo long. :) But I still packed way more than I needed. Partially because I didn't know what we would be doing, partially because I brought several jackets for the 'rain' that didn't happen except for 1 day. Overall not too bad, looking forward to giving it another go in the future. :) I think you did really well, I love reading about packing trials and tribulations. It really helps me narrow and get ideas. XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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  34. Oh gorsh Im an overpacker myself! But you did a great job pairing it down. I have a problem choosing outfits before the day because if I wake up and dont feel to wear something I like options. I suck. Great tips tho. Oh and because of my chronic over-packer-ness ... I always have to check some luggage. Always!

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  35. My cosmetic type stuff is usually the reason I end up checking a bag, we almost always fly southwest so it's free but the last time we flew it took 45 minutes for our bags to get to the stupid baggage claim- so frustrating and I definitely wished I hadn't bothered checking a bag! Anyway, I'm sooo impressed you fit so much into that backpack! I always underpack because I usually forget things-- usually because I'm rushing to pack at the last minute, haha. I need to learn from you though!

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  36. Omg - that graphic is perfect! Seriously for our last trip, I had made my travel list before December. My boyfriend made no packing list, started a week after I had already begun organizing my travel stuff, and then still finished before me. Irked doesn't even begin to describe how I felt! But then he forgot stuff and I got to gloat. So that made me feel a little bit better.

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  37. It always bugs me when Joey waits to pack his bag until 5 minutes before we leave the house haha, it's not bad if we're gone only a couple of days but he usually forgets something if it's for longer. That aside, you are so right, I can usually stash a few of my things in his bag because he has room. :) It's perfect. I am impressed with your packing skills!! I am definitely an over-packer lol.

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  38. I'm a checked luggage type of gal unless they charge. I don't mind picking up the luggage {but I've never lost my luggage} because it's never taken that much longer. Now if they charge, forget it! I will take advantage of every little inch possible. Wear a thick sweater and a coat? Done it! But on our last trip over Thanksgiving, I didn't allow for any room for shopping. Rookie mistake.

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