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Updated: Jul 14, 2022

My friend and I were recently reminiscing about a wonderful trip we took together. She said that all she asked me was; would you like to go to … and I had already said yes, without even knowing where we were going.

You see, my friend works for Air Canada so we don't think twice about an invitation to travel with her. There is only one condition though, we are not allowed to check any bags when we travel with her. We can bring carry on only. That first trip was Hong Kong, Bali and Thailand with only carry on. And 18 years later we haven't checked a bag since.

Which brings me to another question that I am asked frequently, how do I travel with only carry on. People look at me and ask, is that all you have for luggage? And then marvel when I wear a new outfit with matching shoes everyday.

This is how I do it:

1. My husband and I have matching leather carry on luggage that we discovered in a little leather shop on a side street while we were walking around Rome. We will repair them but never ever replace them. And we both have back packs. You will be amazed with a bit of planning how much you can get into these two pieces of luggage. Both of our backpacks have a lot of pockets for keeping things separated and organized like the camera and phone and iPad chargers and toiletries.

2. I roll all my clothes and fit items inside each other. Every shoe, every corner is utilized. But my husband prefers to layer his clothes. He will lay seven t shirts flat one on top of the other and fold them together and lay them flat in his suitcase. Both methods work well.

3. I know you already know this but really - you don't need all that stuff you pack. Even with carry on I still go home with outfits I haven't worn.

4. You have to plan what you are going to wear. You can't leave packing to the last minute and just throw everything in. Start packing early, look at your itinerary and what you will be doing each day and plan what you will wear. Factoring in changes in temperature or weather with items that you can layer over like a sweater. I have a jean jacket that I always travel with because it is full of pockets, I can roll it up in a ball and use it as a pillow and it is great when the temperature is a bit cooler.

5. Everything you pack should at least do double duty. Dress up a pair of Capri pants you wore sightseeing the day before with a pashmina and dressy sandals and you are ready for dinner. That beautiful cover up you wore to the pool also looks great over a black dress with heels. And speaking of a pashmina, it's an essential. I have my favourite that I use as a blanket on the plane, and a wrap for evenings out.

6. My husband and I prefer to pack mostly black. It's just easier, everything goes together and if I spill coffee on myself on the plane no one really knows. And I dress it up with the colourful pashmina.

7. Here is another secret; if you have an itinerary where you are changing hotels or even changing countries no one will ever know that you wore the same dress to dinner last night. But just to keep it fun for myself, I have special costume jewelry that I only use for travelling. It takes up little space in my luggage but can completely change the look of a simple black outfit.

8. If it is a long itinerary we will work into the itinerary mid way a few nights in an accommodation with laundry. If it is a cruise there is always the option to do laundry on the ship.

9. Leaving something out of your luggage that you will need will give you a great souvenir to shop for and a treasured memory to bring home. I have my favourite warm vest that I purchased in Africa for the chilly morning game drives that still brings back those memories when I'm walking the dog back home.

10. Unfortunately , you can't travel with any products. If you need your litre bottle of your favourite shampoo, it is impossible to do carry one. But I make do with the products provided. Again, I can always buy something when I'm in destination. And I usually get my hair done at the resort or on the cruise ship or I will find a little local hair salon.

Why don't you give carry on a try for your next trip. Once you experience the ease of travelling with only carry on you can never go back.

Reach out to me and I would love to share more travel tips.

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