Embarking on a journey with only a carry-on suitcase for a two-week adventure may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a liberating experience that brings a sense of simplicity and efficiency to your travels. I’ve started traveling as much as possible with only carry-on luggage and it has been absolutely liberating. Shedding the burden of excess baggage has allowed me to navigate airports with ease, avoid long waits at luggage carousels, and ensures that I have everything you need right at your fingertips. In this guide, we’ll delve into the art of minimalist travel and unveil the top 10 tips to make your two-week carry-on adventure seamless and stress-free.

Choose the Right Carry-On

The foundation of successful minimalist travel lies in selecting the perfect carry-on bag. Opt for a compact, lightweight suitcase that adheres to airline size regulations. Look for one with multiple compartments, ensuring efficient organization for your belongings. Soft-sided bags often provide more flexibility for squeezing into tight spaces and offer a bit of give when packing. I personally adore my Monos Carry-On Pro Plus with laptop pocket right in the front.

For a personal item, I have experimented with many bags and I for now prefer to use the White Elm Gemini Convertible Backpack. It is stylish and large, and I can fit my travel CPAP, makeup bag and electronics in it nicely without taking up room in the carry-on. Plus, it fits under the airplane seat comfortably.  

Plan Mix-and-Match Outfits

To make the most out of limited space, plan your wardrobe strategically. Select versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. Stick to a color palette that complements each piece, allowing you to create diverse looks with fewer garments. This approach not only saves space but also ensures you’re prepared for various occasions. Avoid items that are very specific and can only be worn once. I tend to gravitate to neutral, earthy tones, and then accessorize with scarves or jewelry for pops of color.

Roll, Don’t Fold

Maximize space and minimize wrinkles by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. This technique not only saves room but also makes it easier to see and access your clothing. Also, a small travel size bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release is your friend. 

Embrace Travel-Sized Toiletries

Bid farewell to bulky toiletry bags by embracing travel-sized essentials. Invest in compact containers for your shampoo, conditioner, and other personal care items. Many brands offer miniature versions of popular products, ensuring you have all the necessities without sacrificing precious space in your carry-on. Other options include bar shampoo and conditioner – space savers that still make your hair look soft and beautiful. The benefit of bars is that you don’t have to worry about adhering to the 3.4 oz liquid rule.  Also, consider paring down  your makeup bag for the duration of the trip.  For example, I rarely wear eyeshadow, so do I really need to bring that palette with me?  Do I really need 8 lipsticks?

Utilize Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a game-changer for minimalist travelers. These handy organizers help compartmentalize your belongings, making it easy to locate items without rummaging through your entire bag. Categorize your clothes, accessories, and toiletries in separate cubes to maintain order throughout your journey. You can lift them out of your suitcase and simply place them in your hotel drawers.

Wear Bulky Items During Travel

Save valuable space in your carry-on by wearing your bulkiest items during travel. Whether it’s a heavy jacket, boots, or a chunky sweater, dressing in layers allows you to stay comfortable during transit while freeing up room in your suitcase for other essentials.

Pack Multi-Functional Accessories

Opt for accessories that serve multiiple purposes. A versatile scarf can double as a shawl or a beach wrap, while a hat not only protects you from the sun but also adds a stylish touch to your outfits. Choosing items with dual functions enhances your travel wardrobe without adding bulk.

Opt for Quick-Drying Fabrics

Selecting clothing made from quick-drying fabrics not only lightens your load but also offers practical benefits. Should you need to wash clothes during your trip, quick-drying materials ensure they are ready to wear in no time, allowing you to pack less and focus on enjoying your journey. And yes, you can wash laundry while on vacation. Bring along lightweight, eco-friendly laundry sheets for quick rinses and washes in your hotel bathroom.

Embrace Technology for Reading Material

Rather than packing multiple books, consider investing in an e-reader or utilizing reading apps on your tablet or smartphone. This saves space and weight, allowing you to carry an entire library without the extra baggage.

Tech Essentials

Streamline your tech gear by opting for multi-functional devices. A smartphone with a good camera can replace a standalone camera, and a versatile charger or adapter with multiple USB ports eliminates the need for multiple cables. I took my Nikon DSLR to Kenya (this bag doubled as my personal item and camera case) and frankly, you can’t tell the difference between its pictures and the ones on my phone.

Mastering the art of traveling with just carry-on luggage for two weeks requires thoughtful planning and a commitment to simplicity. By following these ten tips, you can bid farewell to the stress of excess baggage and embrace the freedom that comes with minimalist travel. Enjoy the convenience of navigating airports effortlessly, revel in the joy of a perfectly curated wardrobe, and savor the moments of your journey unburdened by heavy suitcases. 

Happy Travels!



Please note I have no affiliation with the above-linked products, and receive no compensation from them.

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out these articles:

Follow My Extraordinary Journey to Kenya Pt. 1

Carry-on to Kenya: Follow Me on My Extraordinary Journey Pt. 2