10 Days with Hand Luggage Only

There are many benefits to travelling with hand luggage only. Ask Kyle and he won’t stop talking for at least 20 minutes. 🙂 There’s no need to carry a heavy bag, less risk of your items being damaged or stolen, no risk of the airline losing your bag, or someone else walking away with your bag from baggage claim. The best of all benefits is that you are flexible in case of flight delays or cancellations. It has happened to Kyle before that his flight got cancelled and he was able to get on the next flight right away which wouldn’t have been possible if they had to locate his checked luggage first. For a girly girl like me though, hand luggage only is a real struggle. My approach to packing is taking all of my favourite seasonal items with me so that I have a wide selection of outfits at my destination. This allows me not to think about what I will be wearing but just wear what I feel like. - Not this time!


Navy, light blue, and black flats and purses assembly


We’re embarking on a 10 day trip to New England and Europe and decided to only bring hand luggage because we have some very tight unprotected flight connections, where checking luggage isn't possible. I thought I would share with you the difficult task of packing as many different outfits in a tiny carry-on suitcase as possible.

The key to packing light and small is bringing some items you can wear in a variety of different combinations. I'm sticking to a navy, light blue, and white colour theme with the odd black items which will make it easy to combine everything with each other. I’m packing 3 pairs of jeans, white, black, and navy, (all from H&M) because it’s likely going to be a bit cold still and jeans are super easy to combine.


White, navy, and black jeans assembly to be packed


A space-saving alternative to jeans are skirts and tights. Both can easily be folded very small and hardly take up any space. And an added bonus is they are cute!


Navy, light blue, and black flats and purses assembly for packing


With tops, I still like to go crazy as they don’t take a lot of space and I need some backups in case of spillage. (For those who don’t know me, my best accidents involve white shirts and balsamic vinegar!) The navy and white striped shirt is from Zara.


Assembly of black, white, striped, and light blue tops for packing


Shop Basic Outfits

Jackets and coats are probably the most difficult things to pack given that they are heavy and take up a lot of space. However, for a trip to Europe in March, they are absolutely necessary. I usually wear my heaviest coat on the plane and pack my lighter ones. This time, I’m bringing 3 completely different jackets for each type of weather: cold and wet, cool and sunny, warm and sunny. I've had my navy jackets for years but the white one is one of my favourite items from Zara this season (check it out here).


Three jackets for March travel in Europe


Last but definitely not least, shoes, purses, and accessories! Given that we will be doing a lot of walking, I’m bringing flats only. (I know, shocking since I usually wear heels 24/7!) Flats almost don’t take up any space, are easy to stack in the suitcase, and help when you walk all day long on cobbled streets which is certainly how we travel. Of course, I need to bring matching purses to complete the outfit, +1 travel purse for on the plane to hold all my plane essentials (a discussion for another day).


Navy, light blue, and black flats and purses assembly for packing


Shop Shoes and Purses

The light blue flats are on sale for $25 right now, shop here! I found the Michael Kors flats on sale at Macy's and they have the black ones on sale here.


Clothes neatly packed in an open carry-on suitcase


Surprisingly, it all fits! And in case I find an odd item abroad, I will ask Kyle nicely to add it to his hand luggage. (Full disclosure: My light blue clutch found its way into Kyle's luggage as we were worried it would get too squished in mine.)


Bettina all packed waiting for a cab


What are your packing tips? Would you be interested in reading about how to pack liquids for a 10-day hand luggage only trip? Leave a comment below!



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  1. I almost always try to pack just a carry on- im actually terrified on a trip that my bags will be lost. I can’t tell you the anticipation that kills me waiting at the luggage carousal every time because for some reason my bag is ALWAYS one of the last ones off the plane. Always. So I try to avoid it when I can. I’m real enough with myself to know that I’ll wear the same two paid of jeans and shoes. I’d love to have cute fashion trips but I’d rather be at ease about packing (because all of my fave skirts are giant tulle or organza numbers!)
    legit terrified of it…… especially if i packed my best skirts and clothes in it! PLUS people rifle through them and can take things!

    • Hi Kate!
      It’s great that you can make it work to travel with hand luggage only! It makes the travelling so much easier.
      I completely understand what you mean. I get really nervous also when my bag doesn’t show up at the baggage claim until the very end. I had my checked bags searched by TSA a couple of times (they have to leave a piece of paper in your bag notifying you that it got searched). No matter whether or not I check luggage, I try to carry all my valuables in my purse if possible to be on the safe side. What are your hacks when it comes to the liquids restrictions?
      xx Bettina

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