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12 Tips to Pack Light & Minimal in a Carry On Bag (for a Weekend or Round the World Trip)


12 Tips to Pack Light & Minimal in a Carry On Bag (for a Weekend or Round the World Trip)

Tired of lugging around too much on each trip? Whether you’re heading out on a weekend trip or packing for your round the world trip, here’s 12 tips we’ve learned and use when packing.

We used all of these tips when packing for our two year round the world trip in a carry on bag. These tips saved our backs and made travel days more enjoyable with less stuff!

12 Tips to Pack a Carry on Bag

for a Weekend or Round the World Trip

1. Choose a Small Piece of Carry on Luggage

First, set yourself up for success in packing less by choosing a small carry on bag whether it’s a rolly bag or backpack. (You can see what we used here and each of our packing lists: Lindsey’s for women & Adam’s for men).

12 Tips to Pack Lighter in Carry on Bag for Weekend of Around the World Trip.jpg

You'll fill whatever bag you choose, so choose a small carry on. We like to only pack and take carry on bags so we save time and money throughout our flight by not having to check a bag and not having to wait at the luggage carrousel. We also choose carry on bags so we're not at risk of losing our luggage! We've heard horror stories...

2. Pack Clothes to Layer for all temperatures

This is a big one especially when you're going somewhere that's hot during the day and cold at night, like Colorado. My layering goes: a light rain jacket, over a fleece or long sleeve, over a short sleeve or tank top. I always pack one light rain jacket (for rainy days, cool nights, restaurants, and for on the plane), a fleece to have some cozy warmth if needed, and a couple t-shirts and tank tops for summer days.

3. Pack Clothing that Can be Mixed & Matched

Pack tops and bottoms that can be re-worn and mixed and matched amongst each other. I tend to pack neutral white, navy, and black tops with jeans, jean shorts, and green shorts. Everything’s neutral and I can mix and match the tops and bottoms together.

4. Try Everything On

This was one of the best pieces of advice I received to help me minimize my packing. Take the time to try all your clothes on before you head out and make sure everything matches so you can rewear and mix and match your clothes. This will help you put aside really unique items you may not need or will wear a lot.

5. Plan for Laundry

If you're traveling over a week, plan to do laundry. This will help you pack less tops and bottoms. You may have a laundry room accessible to you on your trip, or you can do laundry in the sink. You can use soap or water or we really like Tide travel sink packets.

Pack Clothes that can Be Washed in One Load

Who wants to spend time doing a laundry when you’re in an exciting new place? Not us! Make sure you pack clothes that can be washed in one load together. This will save you time and money only doing one load versus several.

Don’t Pack or Buy Red Clothes

We’ve made this mistake by putting red in with our other clothes and everything coming out pink! Adam bought red Thai pants when we were in Thailand and they tinted all of our lighter clothes pink. If red’s your power color, then pack loads of red. If it’s not, we recommend leaving red clothing at home.

6. Roll or MariKondo Fold Your Clothes

Roll your clothes like a taco or fold MariKondo style. I used to only roll my clothes, but now I prefer MariKondo's folding techniques so I see everything I have when I open my bag and I'm not making a big mess pulling out my clothes while I search for a specific item.

If you have nice clothes for a wedding or cruise that you don't want to roll or fold into a tiny square, carefully fold them like an official letter in plastic from the dry cleaners and place them on top of all your other gear. I recently did this on our trip to Jamaica for a friend’s wedding. 

7. Use Plastic Bags as Compartments

If you’re using a backpack, use plastic bags to help compartmentalize your gear and clothing.

When we traveled around the world with backpacks, we tried to be strategic in our storage system. We used gallon size ziploc bags and vacuum storage bags to store all of our clothes and gear. With a backpack, you’re consistently pulling everything out, so it's nice to have compartments to pull out all your shirts at once without sending your underwear flying for everyone to see. And, we learned having fewer storage compartments is easier than a lot of little ones as you unload your backpack to find something. Also having clear, see-through bags is nice so you can see what you’re trying to find.

8. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle

12 Tips to Pack Lighter in Carry On Bag for Weekend or Round the World Trip.

This saves the planet and money! Pack a reusable water bottle to have extra water on your flights and to save money and plastic from continuously buying plastic water bottles.

9. Wear the Bulkiest Items to the Airport

To save even more space in your bag, wear your bulkiest shoes, pants, jacket, and top to the airport so the smaller items are in your bag.

10. Prepare for the Security Line

Prepare for the moment of going through security where you have to undress and unpack your bag just to repack it. Remember to wear socks with your shoes. Also, pack your computer, ipad, snacks, and any liquid toiletries that are easily accessible and you don’t have to move other stuff around.

11. Don’t Pack toiletries (or Only Pack the Essentials)

To save even more space, only pack the essential toiletries you’ll need. Or, don’t pack them at all and get them when you arrive at your destination. We have friends that do this.

12. Carry Your Own Devices

When we set out to travel the world and wanted to pack light for our trip, we thought we could share a computer and ipad. However, now after our experience, we recommend to all couples taking off to travel the world to each carry your own laptop and devices. Adam and I are both more efficient working and searching for hotels on a laptop than on an ipad. We would argue about who would get the laptop first, how long they’d been using it, and we ended up staying at coffee shops longer than you’d want in a cool new place.

We bought a second laptop in Malaysia and it made a world of difference to our efficiency deciding on travel logistics and for our marriage! If you are a couple it’s good to have your own stuff and do things on your own. Here’s 5 Reasons It’s Okay to Take a Break from Your Travel Partner & Explore Solo that we’ve learned from our travels.

We hope these tips make packing easier and lighter so your travel days are more enjoyable instead of spent sweaty and stressed!

make packing easier!

1. Pin this for later here.

2. And, download this packing list to have for later, too.

Yes! I want the packing list! 

Name *
12 Tips to Pack Lighter in Carry On Bag.

Want fun conversation starters for your next trip?

Get our new game 501 Questions: A Travel Game!

We realized we were turning to scrolling our phones during the down times of travel, but the richest memories are when we turn to each other and have meaningful conversations! So, here’s 500 fun conversation starters we wrote for you and your travel pals to create new memories together on your trip whether you’re waiting forever in airport security or chilling at the beach! Get it on Kindle or paperback on Amazon here.

“This is gold! It transforms conversations into something with more meaning, more intention!”

-Joy Morehead, @More_Ahead


Have fun with the questions and thank you for supporting us!

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What to Pack for a Day Trip on Your Travels: 16 Small Essentials We Always Carry


What to Pack for a Day Trip on Your Travels: 16 Small Essentials We Always Carry

What to Pack for a Day Trip: 14 Essentials to Carry With You

What should you remember to pack for day trips while you're out traveling? We've been traveling for over 3.5 years and boy do we have horror stories from forgetting things like wallets and keys. Forgetting one tiny essential can make for a very stressful day.

So, to help us remember and to help you prepare for your day trips, here's our checklist for what we carry on fun day trips while we're out traveling.


16 Essentials to Pack For Your Day Trips


1. Collapsable Backpack

Our friends gifted us this Chico collapsable backpack and it's been a game changer for us! We love it! It folds down into a small square to make it easy to fit in your carry on luggage bag for the plane and then you can pull it out on your trip and carry everything you need for your day trips. We even use it to carry our computers to coffee shops for work days.

Here's the one we use and love!


2. Water

Wherever you're headed, you always want to carry water on you. You never know how long your day trip may be and when/if you'll see your opportunity to get water and how much it will be. 

We always carry water with us when we take off on a day trip just to be certain we can stay happy and hydrated. 

Adam loves his Nalgene and I love any collapsable water bottle that decreases in size as I drink it. With my camera gear, I like the collapsable ones that can easily be stashed away and make my load lighter as I go. 

3. Snacks

We gotta keep that hangry monster at bay:) We've learned to always carry snacks.

We normally pack some fruit, a bar of some kind, and chocolate. Don't forget the chocolate:)

We always keep a huge box of Nature Valley Granola bars in the Explorer to grab and go.


4. Sunscreen

Getting burned on a trip is a major bummer. You end up in pain and having to stay out of the sun. No fun in that!

So we always keep sunscreen on us.

We're huge Beyond Coastal fans and have a box of these! This sunscreen is magic. It doesn't leave you feeling greasy like all the others. And, it comes in tiny travel sizes to carry with you so you can reapply on your shoulders and nose if needed throughout the day.


5. Chapstick

It's the worst when your lips are chapped and you have nothing to relieve them. Am I right? When my lips are burning I can't think of anything else, so having some chapstick with me is a must! It's the little things, isn't it?

We love the classic and simple Burt's Bees:)


6. Sunglasses

Remember your sunglasses. Adam gets in a funk if he's squinting, so sunglasses are a definite on our list!

Our friends gifted us fun sunglasses like these and we love 'em! When we wear them, we feel like we're off chilling on a tropical beach somewhere. Life feels more fun in these:) 


7. Journal and Pen

You never know when you need pen and paper to scribble down directions, or a new friend's email, or a brilliant idea that springs itself on you:)

We love Rite in the Rain's pocket size journal. It fits in Adam's back pocket and in my purse or the backpack easily. And, the pages wont be ruined if it rains or your coffee spills on them! I have so many pages of journals that are smudged with normal paper. We love these memo books!


8. Phone

And, don't forget your phone!


9. Extra Battery for your phone

And, an extra battery pack for extra charge!

We've learned to always carry an extra battery pack for our phones. Whenever something terrible is happening like we're lost and need Google maps, or our car was towed and we have to find where it is, our battery is about to die at 5%. ARG!

We were gifted this Enerplex power pack and it's been a life saver for us on our day trips when we're out and away from a power supply. 


10. Camera

If you carry a fun camera or GoPro, remember that too!

I carry a small DSLR, a Canon Rebel, and it fits in a small purse. I love the small size for day trips because it's light and I can keep it discrete by keeping it stashed away in a small purse or pull it out when needed. Check out the Rebel and the other camera gear I carry here


11. Tickets

Do you have tickets for your day trip? Remember those!


12. Wallet

And money.


13. Keys

Do you have your keys? Just checking!


14.  ID & Passport

I always have some sort of ID on me in my wallet, but for our passport it depends how we feel where we are. Sometimes we carry our passport and sometimes we don't. 


15. A good book

These are crucial for all the down moments during an adventure:)

Here's our favorite book right now about a couple traveling the world with their three kiddos! Amazing!


16. Light Jacket

And for all of us who tend to get cold, remember a light jacket just in case:)

I had a super light GoLite wind jacket I took on our round the world trip that I loved, but they've discontinued it. This Marmot Air Jacket is the closest one I can find like it that's super light and can fold down into the pocket and fits in a purse or backpack. It also has a hood, is wind resistant, and water repellent for spontaneous rain. Everything I need to keep me covered. 

When we're headed somewhere colder, I pack a fleece and slip my fleece under this jacket and stay cozy warm!

Make Remembering Easier! 

1. Pin this post to use later here.

2. And, download this packing list so you won't forget like us!

Yes! I want the packing list!

Name *
What to Pack for a Day Trip: 14 Essentials to Carry

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What Books Should You Read When Going to Greece?


What Books Should You Read When Going to Greece?

What books should you read for traveling to Greece? Here's our three recommendations. 

Two of these were suggested by friends from Athens, Greece while we were there and the other I found on my own. I suggest each one for you, too. Check 'em out!

3 Fun Recommended Books for Traveling to Greece

Three RECOMMENED books for traveling to Greece:


1. Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing

I totally recommend this book for a funny read and to get a glimpse of social and family expectations in Greece.

This is my favorite read because it was about the crazy journey of a woman from the UK marrying a Greek man. Drama and tension! 

The author is a comedian and takes the reader through her journey of figuring out how to balance her upbringing as a woman in the UK where she saw her parents both work and share household duties to now marrying into a Greek family where she's expected to do it all. What an adventure she was on and she takes you with her.

This type of story is my favorite to read when learning a new culture (where a foreigner marries a local), because you learn the intimacies of a culture through the lens of someone figuring it out themselves in the most intimate relationship you can have: marriage! You learn so many quarks of a culture that you'd never pick up on even befriending local folks. 

Totally recommend this one!

2. The Island

The Island
By Victoria Hislop

I totally recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Greece's history, Crete's culture, along with some self-discovery, and a little romance:)

The Island was suggested by my friend Evita from Athens. This was my second favorite read while in Greece.

It's historical fiction story. It's about a girl learning the dark past of her family being forced onto an island just off Crete that all lepers were sent to. And, it also includes a view into World War 2 from a Cretan's perspective.

It was fascinating to be sent to the past and learn how leprosy tore apart families and how World War 2 affected people in Greece. And, the story presents Crete's landscape so well. You feel like you're on the journey with the main character. 

I totally recommend this book for your trip, too!

3. Zorba the Greek

Zorba the Greek
By Nikos Kazantzakis

You gotta read Zorba the Greek when you're going to Greece. It's a classic and this will be everyone's suggestion for you. 

We received Zorba the Greek as a gift from our friend Antonis for Adam's birthday. We both read this one.

Zorba will suck you in with his zeal for life and you'll be transported to tiny Greek villages and learn the culture. 

Read this one for sure!


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5 Reasons It's Okay to Take a Break from Your Travel Partner and Explore on Your Own


5 Reasons It's Okay to Take a Break from Your Travel Partner and Explore on Your Own

Should you take a break from your travel partner and explore on your own while you're on a trip? We can imagine you're either at a point where you need a break or you can't agree on how to spend your time. We've been there, too! 

One of the biggest questions we get as a traveling couple is, "Do you do everything together?" There's normally a lot of emphasis and drawing out of the word "everythinnngg." We laugh because, there's no way!

We're two different people with different interests, curiosities, and things that excite us.

Should you take a break from your travel partner and explore solo

Recently, we were in Athens, Greece home to the Acropolis and Parthenon. I kept asking Adam, "Would this be a good day to go? Or this one?" He was never committal when responding and I finally realized he doesn't care to see the Parthenon. "How can he not want to go see the Parthenon?!?" I thought. When I asked, he said he didn't want to spend 20 Euro on something he can see better pictures of on Google. WHAT?!? I was shocked, but hey, like I said we have different interests. But, my response to that? "Well I can't miss the Parthenon when I'm in Athens, Greece!" So I scheduled a date with myself and went without him. It was lovely! I packed my camera gear and took the Parthenon at my own pace. It was glorious! You can take the tour with me here through my photo journal:) 

Along our 3.5 years of traveling together, we've learned it's healthy and totally okay to take a break from each other and explore on our own while we're in new places. 

So, should you split from your travel partner? We say, "Totally! Do it!" Here's five reasons why. And if you're still in planning mode, maybe even plan for some solo time before the trip starts :)

5 reasons It's Okay to take a break from your travel buddy & Explore on your own

1. You Have Different Thing's You're Interested In.

It's natural that you and your travel buddy will be interested in two different things. For us, Adam loves mountain biking and tries to mountain bike every day. I'll go once in awhile, but I'm not a big fan. And, I love roaming around taking photos in new places and that bores Adam to tears. So, we've found it healthy to take time to do our own things. 

2. Don't Miss Out or Regret.

5 Reasons It's Okay to Take a Break from Your Travel Partner and Explore on Your Own

Since we all have our own interests, we'll all have things we want to do our we'll totally regret it. Like Adam would be totally bummed out if he never mountain biked when we were in Crete, Greece because I didn't want to go. He still talks about his bike trips as one of his favorite memories. And for me, I'd be totally bummed out if I never took an evening and simply walked the narrow cobble stone streets exploring and taking photos in Rethymno, Crete. That night's one of my favorite memories of our trip.

So, don't miss out on something you're curious about and dying to do even if you're buddy isn't interested. You're only there once. Go do it with or without your pal.

IMG_1073-27.jpg5 Reasons It's Okay to Take a Break from Your Travel Partner and Explore on Your Own

3. Quench your curiosity.

Curiosity is this anxious and lingering feeling for me. If I don't quench it, sometimes it feels like I'm going to burst and if I don't do it I'll be devastated.  So, quench that curiosity of yours, try something new, and go do it! If you don't you'll always be curious and never feel fully at rest.

4. Solo adventures are empowering. 

5 Reasons It's Okay to Take a Break from Your Travel Partner and Explore on Your Own

When you take off from your buddy and you're responsible for all the logistics, how to get where you want to go, how to pay for things, how to solve problems you come up against, enjoying and getting to take a new place at your pace, and then coming home with your own exciting experience, it's so rewarding. You stand up taller and you feel empowered with thoughts like, "Heck yeah I did that!"

5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This is so cliche but so true in this situation. When you've been with someone for lots and lots of time, and then get a healthy break, you get a new perspective. You realize how nice it is to have your travel buddy with you and you realize how much you appreciate their company. And it's so nice to return home to your pal and swap your own stories from the day. 


So, how do you break the news to your travel buddy you want a solo adventure?

Should You Take a Break from Your Travel Partner and Explore Solo

Be honest and transparent. 

Say something like, "Hey, I need some solo time today. I found this thing I want to do. So, I'm going to go try it. I should be back around this time." 

This gives them your reasoning, sets your boundaries (if you want them), and gives them a heads up for when they can expect to see you again. This way, they can figure out their timing of doing their own thing.

The funny thing is, most times whenever Adam and I have conflicting wants for a day and I share the solo adventure I've planned for myself, he changes his mind and wants to come. A lot of times he just didn't feel like planning something and when I handle that part he's in. And, most times, I'd prefer his company and I'm glad he changed his mind. Other times I say, "I want to do this one solo." 

Cheering you on to take your solo adventure! Have fun! 

Stay Encouraged to Explore Solo

Pin this for later here.

Use our Day Trip Packing List

to make sure you have everything you'll need before you head out. 

Yes! I want the packing list!

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Want to see more about the Parthenon and Acropolis?

And see what Adam missed out on:)