How To Pack Stylishly For 7 Days in a Carry-On


2017 is shaping up to be a year of travel for me. Although I really didn’t plan for it to be, it’s March and I’ve already visited London, Paris, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Kansas City, and Dallas this year. Not to mention the 5 trips planned for the next few months.

Needless to say? It was time to get my packing skills refined to an art form. NO MORE checked luggage crammed to the max for, ahem, a 4-day trip. (What can I say? This is how my brain works while packing. Maybe yours does too?)

However, I spent quite some time devoted to capsule wardrobes. How could there be such a discrepancy between my day-to-day and my packing practices? I decided I would challenge myself to pack in one carry-on for my recent 7-day trip to London and Paris, and you guys, it was so great. I don’t think I’ll ever check a bag again.

Here’s the thing about packing for London and Paris in the early Spring. You’re essentially going to be outside with a coat on the entire time. So I focused less on my under layers, and more on my outerwear and accessories. This really made packing so much easier. Also, I had access to laundry mid-week, which made it easier to cut down on my tees, pajamas, panties, etc.

First things first. My carry-on itself. I use the Bigger Carry-On by Away Travel. (Get $20 off your first bag when you click through that link.) Oh my goodness, I can’t say enough about this suitcase. It has a hard case, a charging port for my devices, looks so stylish, and most importantly fits SO MUCH stuff in it. For real, you guys. Take a look.

This particular size fits all the sizers of major US airlines – I had no problem fitting it in the overhead bins of Delta, Virgin Airlines, and Air France during my trip. However, if you travel budget airlines in other countries or smaller jets, this particular size will probably not work, and you should consider the regular carry-on size from Away. I very rarely fly in those situations, so the bigger size works for me.

As for my packing breakdown, here you go.


Trench Coat – I bought a trench coat from APC a few years back and it’s served me so well. Stylish and functional, it makes any look pulled together in an instant.

Puffer Coat – The trench coat just couldn’t hack it during the cooler mornings and evenings, so a heavier coat was a must. I wore this on the plane, so it was not packed in my carry-on.

Scarves – In my opinion, the most important items during the trip. I brought three with me – some of my favorite brands are Sezane and Madewell. Always had a scarf on during the trip.

Heavier Sweater – A heavy cotton or soft alpaca sweater is key, and I wore it on the plane because it’s super cozy.

Cashmere/Lightweight Sweaters – Comfortable layering pieces so you don’t get overheated during the day.

Lightweight Turtleneck – Love a simple black turtleneck because you can layer it or dress it up on its own.

Black Silk Top – A versatile option for an evening out.

Navy Striped Top – Stripes = Happy

Chambray Shirt – Chambray goes with everything.

Black Jeans – This pair by Citizens of Humanity is a fave. Very comfortable.

Faded Denim Jeans – See above.

Joggers – Super comfortable for a long plane trip.

White Tees – Obvious.

Pajamas – I sometimes prefer to sleep in lightweight tanks and pants, but these are a staple.

Undergarments – Black bras and thongs and low-rise bikinis – I only brought 4 or 5 because I had access to laundry mid-trip.

Socks – Obvious.

Black Booties – Okay, these particular boots were fabulous on the trip. Very stylish and so comfortable. Didn’t get one blister and walked for miles every day.

Oxfords – I probably could have left them at home and only worn the booties and sneakers.

Sneakers – Loving the white sneaker trend, and I wore these a lot during the trip on the travel days.


Silk Bandana – I brought a little silk neckerchief, but didn’t end up wearing it.

Toiletries – I pack all my toiletries in this pouch. I’ve had it for years.

Flat Iron – I can use a flat iron to curl and straighten my hair, so it eradicates the need to bring both a flat iron and a curling iron.

Makeup – My favorite makeup bag is the smaller one of this duo.

Small Crossbody Bag – On travel days, I carry this larger bag as my airplane tote, but don’t use it during my stay. I prefer to carry a smaller crossbody during my trip, so I pack one in my carry-on.

There you have it! As always, feel free to leave any questions/comments. Bon voyage!

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  1. Renee

    March 27, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Such a helpful post, Sarah! Do you mind me asking what size of the Aritzia joggers you have? Thanks :)

    • whoorl

      March 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      They are a size 4. (I usually wear a 2-4 or 26 in pants/jeans.)

  2. tanya

    March 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Yikes, that means no shopping allowed! Why?!

  3. Betsy

    March 27, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I have the Citizens Racer jeans and I have had to fix them so many times because the deconstructed look is deconstructing more. Do you know how the Agnes compares? Also, kind of a personal question, but curious, do you have multiple colors in the bras and panties or just black I was wondering what color works with white t-shirts since I always wear white or gray t-shirts and I am looking for new bras?
    Thank you!

    • whoorl

      March 27, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      I have several pairs of the Agnes in different washes. The one that has the ripped hole in the knee has gotten bigger, though, so I feel your pain.

      Yes, I have a nude bra for my white tees. (Although this trip the white tees were the under layer, so the black bra was fine.)

  4. Robyn

    March 27, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Didn’t you have to take out all your toiletries when going through security? Toiletries are the big reason I check baggage. I have so many issues paring down…..and sometimes it’s hard to get things into smaller bottles. Yours looked so neat and compact!

    • whoorl

      March 29, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Never have had to take out my toiletries ever. I just leave them in that clear tote inside my carry-on.

  5. Lonek8

    March 28, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Ditto on Robyn’s comment above- I’d love a follow up post about how you pared down the toiletries and makeup so they fit into the required 1 qt carry on size. Great post!!

  6. Jen

    March 28, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    What size do you own in the pink Madewell sweater? I’m debating … Thanks!

    • whoorl

      April 2, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Size XS.

      • Jen

        April 2, 2017 at 9:31 am

        Thanks! And great post. There’s something so soothing about watching the video. :)

  7. Lori Gosselin

    March 29, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I order the pouch fr toiletries in the large and it seems HUGE…I am guessing that is the small in the pic? the small seemed too small on the website!

    • whoorl

      March 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      I use the large pouch. Yes, it’s larger than a quart size, but many of the items in there are not liquids. I’ve never had to remove my toiletries from my bag.

  8. Jill

    March 29, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    This is fantastic, thank you. My problem is that my husband is the over-packer. He’ll only re-wear pants on trips, so if no access to laundry he packs fresh clothes for every day! We’re taking a two-week trip soon and I fear he’ll need a steamer trunk. Any suggestions?

  9. Katie

    April 1, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Are those Drunk Elephant bottles I see in your toiletries bag? :) Recently started using that line and it has made SUCH a difference for my skin.

    Thank you for this post, btw. I am a recovering over-packer and find it very helpful to see what other people pack.

    • whoorl

      April 2, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Yep! A definite favorite of mine.

  10. Kristen

    April 22, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    This is amazing. I’m planning a London/Venice trip for fall and you’re giving me hope. My problem, I suspect, will be that I also need to fit some running/hiking clothes in there, but I think I can get away with a LOT of re-wearing of items. I’ll be staying with a friend so I think laundry will be accessible — BIG help there. Wish me luck!