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Packing Tips for Easy Summer Travel

Close up photo of the inside of a packed suitcase

Are you that girl that always shows up with at least two more bags than everyone else, but still manages to forget something?  Don’t worry, we have you covered before your next vacation. Keep reading to learn how I organize my suitcase to help save space and fit everything in a carry-on, like on my recent cruise with Carnival.

Overhead photo of packed suitcase with hands reaching into it

Caroline sitting on a bench on the Carnival Victory

Suitcase, beach bag and sun hat inside a balcony stateroom on the Carnival Victory

I don’t like to brag, but I like to consider myself somewhat of an expert packer, if you will.  Like most, my experience goes back to when I was old enough to start packing for myself, but the difference is I was trained by the best.  My dad is a commercial airline pilot so you could technically also call him a professional packer.  Growing up with airline perks, we flew anywhere we needed to go, but, of course, there was a catch.  We had to fly ‘non-rev’ (non revenue passenger / standby).  Why is this relevant to my packing skills you ask?  Because that meant my dad was not carrying three kids’ bags around the airport if we missed our flight or had to change our travel plans. (Costa Rica for spring break!  Didn’t make the flight, but there is a flight leaving for Hawaii in an hour… change of plans!)  The rule for the three of us kids was always that we could only pack one carry-on and we were responsible for it.  So I learned early on how to fit every extra bathing suit and pair of shoes in that said carry-on so no accessory got left behind.

Fred and I took a mini-vacation with Carnival Cruise Line last weekend to the beautiful island of Nassau in the Bahamas. We both packed everything into one carry-on suitcase to ensure easy travel both in the airport and boarding the cruise ship (no lost bags here)! So today, I wanted to share my tricks of the trade!

When you start packing is just as important as what is on your packing list.  We have all (likely) been in that terrifying position where you are throwing things in your bag and running out the door rushing to make your boarding time only to arrive too late or possibly even arrive on time, but having forgot half the things on your packing list.  This is why I am talking about the when.

It is always best to pack your bags the night before you leave town.  Inevitably, something always comes up the day of or something takes longer than you had anticipated.  I like to keep traveling as enjoyable and stress-free as possible so let’s not start off the trip on the wrong foot.  Of course, there are some things you can’t pack the night before, like your toothbrush and cell phone charger.  For those things, have a list and keep them all together in one spot to ensure you don’t forget anything before heading out the door.

Okay, now for the fun part, the how.  Here are my Top 6 Tips for how to fit everything into your bag, preferably a carry-on.

Roll, Don’t Fold – Rolling your clothes not only prevents creating the dreaded creases, but it also saves space and leaves you extra room for that ‘just in case’ outfit.  If you have items that are particularly prone to wrinkles, roll them in tissue paper to ensure they arrive wrinkle free!

Bulky items on the Bottom – Unfortunately, not all items can easily be rolled.  To save space, start with the bulkier items, like tennis shoes (if you plan on hiking or working out), and pack them at the bottom of the suitcase.  But don’t waste space by leaving them empty.  This is a great place to store all those little things like socks, belts, etc.

Use Handbags for Storage – If you are like me, you can’t carry one handbag the whole trip.  You will need an evening clutch, a cross-body bag for exploring, and another bag for the pool, at least. 😉 Use the extra handbags for storage when packing.  I always pack my jewelry and accessories (like extra sunglasses) in my evening clutch and use another bag for electronics such as chargers.  (While we are talking about handbags, always clean out your personal handbag before leaving home and only take the essentials.)

Wear your Layers – I always save my layers for my airport outfit so they don’t take up valuable packing space.  Even for a warm weather destination, I always pack a denim jacket or lightweight wrap for cool evenings or over air-conditioned restaurants.

Stick to Color Scheme – I like to stick to a color scheme when packing to limit the number of accessory changes.  For example, all my evening outfits will work with the same neutral or black evening shoes and clutch.  All my daytime outfits will tie back to the same pair of flats & cross-body bag.  If you need to pack a warmer layer, I choose one in denim or a neutral fabric that can be layered over any outfit. Since we were traveling with Carnival this trip, I was inspired by the nautical sailing trend and stuck with neutral accessories like this bucket bag and brown sandals.

Better Left Behind – Lastly, I have found these things just take up coveted space in your bag so I prefer to leave them behind and save room for more shoes!  1.) A hairdryer – You can confirm with your accommodations first, but we typically find one of these handy devices provided in the bathroom.  Besides, what better time to embrace the beachy waves than on a cruise ship, right? 2.) Iron / Steamer – Another electronic that is typically provided for you.  If there isn’t one in every room, there should at least be one for the property you can request.  I also love packing a travel size of a non-iron wrinkle spray, that usually does the trick!  (And if you read our first tip this shouldn’t be much of an issue anyway.)  3.) Books – I love holding and smelling a real book in the palm of my hands as much as the next traditional gal, but when it comes to travel I always pack an e-reader.  Make sure you have a full charge before heading out to the beach or boarding a flight, but it will keep your load much lighter and you can pack as many as you want!

Safe travels! xo

Luggage sitting on a bed inside of a balcony stateroom on the Carnival Victory

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.