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Packing for Seven Months in a Carry-on

A good friend converted us to always packing carry-ons when going on trips. It's far easier to travel with a carry-on – especially when taking low-cost airlines that charge to check luggage.

The longest we have spent living out of a carry-on has been about three months. The benefits definitely outweighed the negatives. If we ran out of clothes, we could often find laundry facilities. Anything we forgot could usually be bought locally. So, for this trip we took the plunge and aimed to pack only a carry-on for seven months of travel.

It's easier to pack for seven months in a carry-on when you're travelling during summer. No hats, scarves, gloves, or bulky coats are necessary. Of course, when we make it back to the East Coast it will be autumn and may be a little chilly. At that point, we can easily buy warmer clothes (as Hampton pointed out, clothes tend to be more expensive in Europe).

Choosing things to pack was pretty simple. I went through T-shirts I liked and grabbed them. One pair of darker jeans (that could work in a nicer restaurant) is useful. Shirts that look good without needing to be ironed are helpful if you need a dressier option and don't have an iron handy.

I also made sure to pack some older clothes, too, so I could throw things out if necessary.

Getting it into the suitcase was simple by rolling everything up. If you're not familiar with the "roll" style of packing, it's excellent and allows you to fit a lot more in a suitcase (and keep things mostly wrinkle-free).

First side
Second side

The two images above contain about two weeks' worth of clothes. Making sure I wear bulky items when travelling means that the lighter versions (e.g. a lighter jacket, thinner shoes) fit in the suitcase. The contact lenses should be allowed as medical liquids.

Here's the full list:

  • 15 T-shirts
  • 1 polo shirt
  • 3 shirts
  • 11 regular socks
  • 7 ankle socks
  • 16 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of trousers
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of swimming trunks
  • 2 pairs of shoes (one boot-like, one light and foldable)
  • 2 jackets (one light, one heavy)
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 razor
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 90 pairs of contact lenses
  • 1 international adaptor

Our laptop bags will have toiletries (shaving cream, toothpaste and deodorant only – everything else we can buy as we need it), our laptops, kindles, and chargers.

And there you go. That's how you pack for seven months in only carry-on.