How to Pack for 3 Weeks in a Carry-on (and a personal bag)

Choose a good sized personal bag

Most airlines will allow for both a personal item and a carry-on bag. We like to maximize the size of our personal item by using our incredibly roomy Herschel backpacks. They have lots of little compartments as well as a space for your laptop, and my smaller bag even has a shoe compartment!) We use our backpacks to pack things we need easy access to, like a sweater, electronics, and our toiletry bag (more notes about toiletries later). Along with that, we pack a change of clothes in case we aren’t able to check in to our hotel or rental and we’d like to change our clothing without having to rummage through our carefully packed suitcase. Final note: most airlines aren’t too particular with personal bag size, as long as it can fit under your seat, but its always a good idea to check with your airlines for any possible restrictions on personal item size.

“We use our backpacks to pack things we need easy access to, like a sweater, electronics, and our toiletry bag…”

Plan to wash clothing

I know. Laundry. Yuck. I completely understand. But trust me on this one, its definitely worth it. Most rental apartments have a washer and a drying rack (if you find one with a dryer, woo hoo!). It wasn’t too time consuming to throw in a load before dinner and lay it out before bed, and this really freed up a lot of space in our suitcase. If you’re staying in a hotel, call ahead of time and find out how much it costs for laundry service. It might be worth it to pay a little extra to avoid having to bring a checked bag, just fit a few extra items.

Consolidate shareable items

By shareable items, I’m specifically referring to toiletries. No, I am not suggesting you share a toothbrush; however, if you’re able to share things like your comb, toothpaste, face wash, shaving cream, etc. with your significant other, family member, or travel partner, I would highly suggest it. It doesn’t seem like it saves much space, but when you’re trying to pack for 3 weeks, every square inch counts.

Bring a foldable nylon bag

Okay. So it’s kind of a cheat more than a travel hack. But we knew we would want to bring home a few things to remember our trip by. Namely, some souvenirs for family and a couple bottles of wine -which due to liquid limitations would have to be checked. This being the case, we packed a compact nylon duffle bag. We used the Just in Case tote by Tumi —> but there are other great options for packable bags on the market as well. So while sparing ourselves the hassle of lugging bulky suitcases around Europe and the fear of our clothing not making it to our destinations with us, we knew that we’d end up having to check a bag on the way home – which we didn’t mind. So on our return flight, we checked one of our original carry-on suitcases, while using the nylon bag as a carry-on.

Our Favorite Carry-On

This is in no way sponsored, but we absolutely LOVE the carry on luggage by Away. They’re incredibly durable and have some great features, like the external battery for your mobile device or tablet (which is easily removed and can be used as a portable charger throughout your trip). The clothing compartment also features buckles to secure and compress your clothing to maximize the space; And the wheels sit slightly under the suitcase rather than sticking all the way out, so we’ve found that it often fits easier in the overhead bins than other rolling suitcases. Above all things, the price is very reasonable. See the link to check it out —>

Do you have any tips for packing light? Please share them below! We’d love to hear some other great suggestions!

5 Replies to “How to Pack for 3 Weeks in a Carry-on (and a personal bag)”

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