Tuesday Travel Tips – Carry-on Only Packing for Winter Escapes

Carry-on only packing can be tricky. Especially when you’re packing for a winter climate and flying a budget airline that strictly enforces the one bag policy–which means only one carry-on bag, and everything you’re carrying on, except your coat, must fit inside it.

But last weekend for our budget escape to Berlin via Easyjet, I made it work.  Here’s how to DIY:

  1. Roll clothes into small bundles
  2. Travel-size only toiletries (I reuse old bottles from hotel stays)
  3. No extra shoes or bags
  4. Limit books and personal items. For fellow OCD readers out there, e-readers (mine’s a kindle!) really help with this step.
  5. Don’t pack extras of anything but socks and underwear.
  6. Go with jeans. They can be worn more than one day. Wear a pair, pack a pair, and you’re all set.
  7. Live in layers. Wearing multiple layers means that you can wear outer levels of clothing like cardigans, or sweaters more than once.
carry-on for winter weather weekend escapes

My full carry-on for Berlin. It was actually kind of nice not to have to choose between so many possible outfits. I could wake up, put on my clothes and jewelry and head out. J. seemed to appreciate it, too — Chris Ciolli

What I packed for a 3-day, 2-night weekend in Berlin:

  1. 3 long-sleeved fitted cotton t-shirts (one extra in case I stained myself, or got wet, or it was really cold and I needed to layer up)
  2. A spare pair of jeans (I wore one for the flight)
  3. 2 cotton tank-tops
  4. 1 cashmere cardigan (plus I wore another cardigan on the plane)
  5. 1 small leather-bound journal
  6. 2 ink pens
  7. 1 kindle e-reader
  8. 1 silly winter hat
  9. 2 pairs of fingerless gloves
  10. 1 stick of deodorant
  11. One small zippered jewelry case with 2 pairs of earrings, 1 necklace, and three bracelets.
  12. 1 pair of sunglasses
  13. 3 sets of “underpinnings”
  14. 3 pairs of wool socks
  15. cell phone….. despite my fear of international roaming charges
  16. wallet complete with credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance card, etc….
  17. business cards (just in case!)
  18. passport (absolutely necessary)
  19. cell-phone charger —when you use your phone as a camera, etc, the battery disappears fast…
  20. coin purse– in Europe, where coins go up to 2 euros in value, carrying metal money is really handy for ticket and vending machines.
  21. One plastic grocery bag for dirty clothes.
  22. 1 ziploc bag full of the toiletries listed below:
  • travel-size toothpaste
  • travel-sized body lotion
  • travel-sized face lotion
  • travel-sized contact solution
  • rewetting drops for contacts
  • 1 pencil eyeliner
  • 1 mascara
  • 1 small eyeshadow compact
  • 1 small highlighter powder
  • 1 travel-sized shampoo (shampoo doubles as body gel, in my book)
  • 1 travel-sized conditioner

The key to managing packing a small bag really is to limit yourself, and only bring extras of the layers of clothes that touch your skin. Limiting bulky top layers really makes packing your bag easy. Also, I think wool is ideal for winter traveling. Thinner sweaters like my cashmere cardigan do a lot to help keep you warm without taking up extra space in your suitcase or making you look like you’ve put on poundage eating street-food for three days….

Also, for short escapes like my trip to Berlin, I don’t bring extra bags, or shoes, as they take up tons of space, but instead limit myself to a small selection of jewelry to switch up my look. Another option for packing a smaller bag is to use what your hotel provides or buy travel-size toiletries you’ll use up at your destination, but that only works if you’re not picky about brands or ingredient lists in languages you don’t understand.

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