Across the Pond: One Bag Packing

One Bag Packing

We all start out the same. I think it comes from childhood. Teddy bear and assorted “action figures/dollies” – check. Four sets of pajamas – check. Ten play outfits because everything is bound to get dirty – check and check. Whether a trip to grandma’s for the weekend or 6 weeks of summer camp, everything your mother could possibly imagine for any situation went into your suitcase, and an “over-packer” was born. One bag packing? No way.

many suitcases

Now, you’re a grownup, and your travel plans are far more jet-set and cosmopolitan. Instead of just the in-laws, you hanker to wander the wilds outside the U.S. Yes, you want to do it in style, but that doesn’t mean 2 huge 30+ inch bags. When flying halfway across the globe, get creative with your carry on and stay sleek at the same time. Here’s how to do one bag packing.

One Color Palette:

Solids are your friend. Choose a color combination, and only pack pieces that coordinate appropriately. A foundational neutral color, combined with minimal variety in hues, allows you to mix-match-swap anything and everything in your bag making one bag packing simple.

Personally, I vote for black. It stays clean-looking, it’s sophisticated and chic, and it pairs beautifully with almost any other color. A pair of black pants, jeans, a skirt, and leggings allows for an infinite number of gray/black/white blouses, sweaters, t-shirts, cardigans, or tunics. Pair this combo with scarves or an outer jacket, and you’re oh-so-chic.

Use a Packing List:

Packing List

Compose your own, or use an app like PackPoint to organize what you need to pack based on location, length of travel, weather at your destination, and any activities you have planned for your trip.

Start with essentials: travel docs, boarding pass, passport, tech kit (chargers, cords, thumb drives), camera, laptop, iPad, iPhone

Then, move to the plan of your day: sleepwear, socks, workout clothes, day clothes, under garments, handbag, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, and any other accessories.

Finalize with your vanity needs: brush/comb, earplugs (trust me), basic makeup – NO other toiletries required (see below)!

Not only is this time-saving prep, but it ends up being an enormous space-saver that keeps you from forgetting something crucial – umbrella anyone?

Ditch the Toiletries:


It might be extremely uncomfortable for us ladies, but I promise this is the best tip for lightening your load and shrinking your bag. Purchase all your skin care, hair care, and cleanser when you get THERE. Yes, carry that mascara that you die for, some light face powder, and a lipstick or two, but I promise, no matter where you go there’s a Sephora, Kiehl’s, MAC, or ULTA nearby – probably even in your arrival airport.

Get all the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, sunblock, contact solution, toothpaste, etc. you need in travel sizes once you’re through security. Best part is you’ll end up using it all while on the trip and won’t have to carry it home either.

Flat or Roll?

clothes folded vertically

Now, for the actual one bag packing itself. The endless debate of stack or stuff! I’m a fan of both as it allows you to pack everything snuggly – Tetris-style. It’s only the loose items that result in wrinkles. Start by placing all your “dress” clothing folded flat into your bag vertically so it looks more like a filing cabinet. This way you can see all the clothes you have without having to lift up or remove the ones on top. From here, you not only have a better view of how many shirts or pairs of pants you have, but you can also see what stands out and potentially doesn’t match everything else. Remove the randoms.

Ball up socks, underwear, and workout clothes, and stuff them inside shoes (inside shoe bags, of course!) to maximize space. Then, roll up jeans, tees, sleepwear, and sweaters to fill any other gaps in your bag.

woman and backpack

The ultimate goal when traveling overseas is making memories, not pulling muscles. You can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap, so pick two and compose a plan for your packing. After you enjoy the sweet mobility, you’ll never go any other way!