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Here's how to pack for 2 weeks of travel using only a carry on

Here's how to pack for 2 weeks of travel using only a carry on


The greatest packing challenge I have ever faced, conquered. Two weeks, various climates, different plans each day and only one carry on. How did I do it? Read on, fellow nomad. 

I’m home! I just returned from my two week trip gallivanting up and down the West Coast, rejuvenated and ready to take on the next phase of my life, graduation! I figure this will be my last vacation until next year, so I made sure to do and see as much as I could, dragging Chloe into a non-stop itinerary, bouncing around from one place to the next.

But you’re here because you are curious about how the hell I managed to pack for two weeks in a carry on for the West Coast during the spring season, and you may also be wondering how you can achieve that too.

To start things off, you should know that I am a total outfit freak, and I like to meticulously coordinate what I wear each day—no matter if I'm on vacation or at school. Therefore, packing stylish clothes and shoes (without feeling like I left anything important behind) proved to be difficult, but certainly not impossible! If you’re anything like me, you know the packing struggle is REAL.

So I started my trip near San Francisco, CA and ended my trip in Portland, OR. Yes, these places have two completely different climates. I was gone for two weeks, the first spent beaching and sightseeing while traveling down the coast of Central California—from Pleasanton to Santa Barbara and back. The second week, we drove up to Eugene, Oregon where I spent my days touring and going out at the University of Oregon (Go, Ducks!), participating in outdoorsy activities, ending the trip with fun foodie adventures in Portland.

A view of Boston from outside my window!

A view of Boston from outside my window!

The weather fluctuated between sunny and 75 degrees to rainy and 55 degrees. Either way, this was better than the weather in the Northeast.

I flew with Alaska Airlines, which, like most airlines in America, allow for one free carry on item, and one personal item. The free carry on bag is of course limited to weight and size restrictions, which you can find for Alaska Airlines, here.

I always use a backpack as my personal item, and I highly suggest to do the same if you are traveling alone because they are easier to carry than tote bags, are most likely better for your back, and they can fit a lot more than a purse. Also, when you are trying to tote other luggage around with you, a backpack leaves you completely hands (and arms) free to do so. If you are wondering what to bring onto the flight in a personal bag, click here!

Now for the good stuff.

My 2 week packing recipe is easy to whip up, prep time is based on how many clothes are in your closet. Keep in mind, I knew I would be able to wash my clothes, which comes in handy when you are traveling for such a period of time and do not have the luxury of a check-in bag.

What was in my 2 week carry-on bag:

  • 4 pairs of jeans—1 pair distressed jeans, 1 pair dark-wash high waisted, 1 pair black denim and the last pair my comfy jeans

  • 1 pair of denim cutoffs

  • 1 long pant jump-suit
  • 3 tank tops
  • 1 turtle neck
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • 2 short sleeve shirts
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 chambray shirt
  • 2 dresses: 1 fancy, 1 casual
  • 1 bikini
  • 1 pair of tights
  • 3 pairs of shoes—Athletic sneakers for hiking; Black, heeled booties for going out; Gladiator sandals for the beach; White Adidas sneakers

  • 3 pairs of earrings

  • 1 light scarf
  • Socks, underwear, bras for one week
  • PJs
  • 1 black belt

What I wore on the plane:

  • Black legging/pants
  • My favorite Mickey Mouse crew neck sweatshirt
  • Adidas sneakers

A few tips include: Packing your jewelry in a bag or small container to keep them from tangling or getting lost; packing your shoes in plastic bags, alternate packing clothes by laying them flat and rolling them in order to maximize the space.

Final Thoughts: To keep this article short and sweet, I will jump right into what worked and what didn’t. First of all, I used every article of clothing I packed, except the nicer dress I packed for a dinner or going out. Secondly, packing solids and neutrals was the best decision because I could mix and match everything. I did not wear the tights, although I lucked out with the weather in Oregon as it was unusually warm the week I was there. I definitely wish I packed a hat, either a fedora or a baseball cap to protect my head from the CA sunshine.

Other than that, everything worked out really well. In the next post, I will include some pictures to show how I put these outfits together!

Aren't I so stylish? | Avila Beach, CA

Aren't I so stylish? | Avila Beach, CA

What are some packing tips you have picked up in your travels? What is the longest time you have traveled for just using a carry-on bag?

Let me know in the comment section below!

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