I am a reformed over-packer.
In fact, phrases like “emergency outfit”, “extra jeans just in case” and “after dinner shoes” were once in my vocabulary! However, a combination of checked baggage fees, managing two energetic little boys and – okay, it’s really all about the checked baggage fees – made me rethink my packing technique. Now, more often than not, we do carry on luggage only! Since we travel so often, after just one year I was able to purchase four airline tickets from Toronto to Orlando with the money I saved on checked baggage fees alone. Crazy, huh?
Today, I’m sharing a few of my fave tips for travelling with carry on luggage only!
1. Edit your wardrobe. Here are two things I want you to remind yourself of when packing for any vacation: 1) plan whole outfits, not items of clothing, and 2) people RARELY (if ever) notice or care what you’re wearing. Seriously.
First, let’s talking about planning outfits. I create an excel spreadsheet (I kid you not) of what I plan to wear day and night for each day I’ll be away. When writing it down, I realize that the jeans I wear on Monday during the day can be repeated on Thursday and Sunday night, and perhaps the dress I’m wearing on Tuesday can double as a beach dress later in the week. The point is, rather than throwing pieces of clothing in a suitcase and sorting it out later, I streamline exactly how much clothing I’ll need. Then, I’ll print out the spreadsheet and tape it to the inside of my suitcase, so I’ll know exactly what to pull out each day.
The reason I’m so lax about repeating clothing? I’ve realized over the years that unless you’re travelling with the purpose of documenting your entire trip on Instagram, most people will not notice how often you change outfits. Pairing a new t-shirt with the same jeans or swapping shorts for a long skirt creates mix-and-match options that look totally new while reducing space. My favourite combo? A fitted white t-shirt, a statement necklace and a brightly-coloured cardigan. Paired with jeans, capris or a skirt – with or without the statement necklace or cardigan, the t-shirt tucked, untucked or tied – means multiples looks with the same core basics. Edit your wardrobe, friends.
2. Go small on the toiletries. You don’t need your full-sized bottle of curl enhancer. (Or maybe you do – but is it worth an extra $52 – the cost of one checked bag, return?) Early last year, I grabbed a clear travel case with six 100ml plastic bottles inside. Then, with a permanent marker, I labelled them and filled with argan oil, shaving lotion, hand soap, mouthwash and any other travel-sized toiletries I’d need. Next, I purchased hair spray, toothpaste and deodorant in travel-friendly formats. Finally, I swapped my eye makeup remover and face wash for moist makeup wipes, and substituted my sunscreen lotion for a sunblock stick. My carry on kit lasted for an entire year! That’s right – a little time and a small investment is all you need to ensure you are carry-on compliant for all your travels.
The trick is to not wait until the night before your flight to realize you don’t have everything you need in travel-friendly sizes! If you’re committed to ditching checked baggage, here’s a 6-pack of carry-on approved containers that includes a funnel and spatula for easy refilling. Start prepping your kit today so you’ll be ready to click “0 checked bags” when it’s time to check in to your flight.
3. Go light on the electronics. It’s impossible for me leave home without my laptop. Whether I’m on a press trip or vacation, I’m constantly working. But when travelling without checked luggage, that means I’ve always got a backpack on my shoulders and a full-to-the-brim suitcase rolling behind me. So, the last thing I need is a heavy, cumbersome laptop to slow me down. That’s why the only travel laptop for me is the Dell XPS 13. (Spoiler Alert: It’s only 2.7 lbs.)
The Dell XPS 13 is the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet thanks to its industry-leading infinity display. Translation: more screen with less to carry! The almost borderless infinity display maximizes screen space by squeezing a 13.3” display in an 11” frame. The XPS 13 is also exceptionally slim; it measures about 1 cm thin and is as easy to tote as a tablet.
But, a tablet, it is not.
Check out the power! New 8th generation Intel Core processors offer increased performance with 4 cores, all in a sleek form. More cores mean increased performance when you multitask, so the Dell XPS 13 will handle everything you throw at it – which is particularly handy for a small business owner like me. In fact, Dell Dynamic Power Mode with new 8th generation processors delivers up to 44% improved performance over 7th gen processors.
Also obsess-worthy? The battery life. Depending on how you use your laptop, your battery life will vary. However, here’s just a taste of the Dell XPS 13’s impressive power: while using productivity applications, like Word or Excel, you can experience the longest battery life of any 13-inch with up to 22 hours of continual use (on a FHD model). I’ve even let my kids borrow the laptop to watch movies during back-to-back 5.5 hour flights and it didn’t let us down; the boys consumed at least four Disney movies on a single charge. Now that’s magical!
(My 9-year old also likes to steal my laptop at home! There always seems to be more than enough battery life for him to stream and episode of his favourite shows on Netflix.)
Normally I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving my laptop to the kids, but the Dell XPS 13 is cut with precision from a single block of aluminum for a sturdy, durable chassis in a sleek design. I wouldn’t say it’s childproof, but it’s certainly durable enough to keep up with my boys.
The Dell XPS 13 starts at $1,999.99 and can be purchased from www.dell.ca. If you’re looking for the perfect carry-on travel companion, this is the laptop for you!
Now, instead of writing a standard disclaimer, lemme just tell you what went down: I had an older generation Dell XPS 13 laptop which I loved to bits and used until it was on its last legs. So, I reached out to the good folks at Dell Canada and sought to collaborate with them. That’s right – I wanted this laptop, badly, because I loved its predecessor. So if there was any doubt that this review came from the heart, there you have it! I am legitimately obsessed with the Dell XPS 13 and know you will be too! Special thank you to the kind folks at Dell Canada for equipping me (and my many travels).
Some great tips, love the spreadsheet one – I can definitely see myself using that one.
This was a great post and you are the travelling queen!!
Oh gosh – this trip I have one checked bag just with ice skates and snow pants. I need better destinations ;)
Certainly some wonderful tips Lena we won’t be doing a vacation this year,saving for 2019!
Thanks for the packing tips. I’m a just in cases kind of packer!
Some very helpful tips I always always overpack
Great tips, I became a reformed overpacker many years ago when I travelled to places where it wasn’t fun to drag around a heavy suitcase.
I only take carry on when I travel for work as it’s so much easier, these are great tips
Great tips, I just did a resort vacation with carry on as well, so great breezing through the airport not waiting for luggage. I accumulated a stash of beauty samples from Shoppers, Sephora etc that I brought to try out as well as a mini perfume sample, so my pack was even lighter on the way back. We then bought anything over the 100 ml at the airport after clearing security.
That’s certainly a nice laptop but sadly out of my price range!
Some great tips. On a trip to Hawaii in 2016 I did not even wear half of what I packed. For my 18 day trip this year I will pack way less but I don’t think a carry on alone will work.
Go small on the toiletries is definitely something I need to work on!
I have done spreadsheets for many years., using google shared spreadsheets, so that the people I travel with can add or comment on the things they want to see, and also this way we only have one of everything.
edit your wardrobe is huge! i am guilty of packing heavy because i never know what i am going to feel like wearing that day and regret not bringing something but now i have been trying to pack light and more versatile items that are easier to mix and match. oh and cut back on the footwear
I just ordered a new bag and I will have to learn how to pack lighter!
I have always been a chronic overpacker. I am always unsure of what I will end up wanting to wear and I am guilty of packing excessive amounts of reading material that I generally never get to. I have to admit that I have tried to streamline out of weight considerations. I keep a bag of essentials ready to go and just pop it in to my suitcase which is already loaded with packing cubes for my clothes and shoes. So much easier!
Agree, we need to trave light as I always packed too much and without really suing all of those inpacked, well in anyway we could Ave buy them as a feat to us, also not too much electronics as this may cause interruption to enjoy our holidays too.
I love spreadsheets. They are great for everything!
I’d love the Dell XPS 13! It looks so sleek!
This is great advice – thank you! I try to be as organized as I can when travelling to keep the stress levels down.
Whenever possible I only take carry on! Good tips.
Firm believer in carrying a backpack instead of hauling a huge piece of luggage.
I would love to have that laptop but I need something with a disc player