How I Pack Carry-On for 1 Week

How I Pack Carry-on for a Week

Kevin and I spent a week in Norway this year. It was spring, the cusp of April and May, and temperatures ranged from high 40s to mid 70s F. Now this is no problem for Kevin, the man who wears the exact same wardrobe all year round in Wisconsin. His staples consist of thin-material shorts and Under Armour t-shirts. When it gets below freezing, he’ll throw a sweatshirt on top. I had to work a bit harder to figure out what clothing to bring. On top of that, Norway had rain in the forecast.

The last few trips, Kevin and I have been trying out carry-on only travel, and I have to say, I love it. But it does make packing more challenging for me. I had a few decisions to make, to ensure everything would fit in my bag and I would have everything I need. Here’s what I packed, and how it worked out.

In my REI Trail 40 Backpack:

1 pair of jeans

6 t-shirts

1 cardigan

1 long sleeve shirt

6 socks

1 pouch of 8 undies

1 pajama pant

1 small laundry bag

1 pair super light tennis shoes

1 pair shower flip-flops

1 belt

1 rain coat

1 scarf

1 pouch of medications (ibuprofen, pepto bismal tablets, prescriptions)

1 ziploc bag of liquids on the outside pocket (shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant)

1 toiletry bag (comb, hair ties, extra space for the ziploc bag after the flight)

1 electronics bag (plug adapters, e-reader charger, phone charger, camera battery charger, extra SD cards)

1 plastic folder/paperwork pouch (confirmation numbers, instructions, itinerary)

1 empty water bottle

1 glasses case

1 travel journal

How I pack

I like to pack my clothes into the gallon-size Ziploc bags and then squeeze out all the air. It’s quite easy to do, and they take up so much less room this way. Sometimes if the bags aren’t great quality, the air leaks back in, though. I squeeze the air out and then pack them in tightly right away without giving them time to re-fill with air.

In the large tote purse:

1 pair of headphones

1 box of motion sickness pills

1 book

2 highlighters and 4 pens

1 phone

1 toothbrush

1 small purse with Fuji X-T10 camera and credit cards

1 plastic paperwork half pouch (passports, plane tickets, instructions to get from airport, 1st hotel confirmation number, foreign currency)

My preferred document organizing method




Zip-up fleece

Hiking boots and socks

Fake wedding ring (I prefer to leave my real diamond at home when I travel)

Smart watch


Hair tie on wrist

I struggled on deciding if I should bring a coat or not. I have a nice fall/early spring wool-type coat that I took to London and is very cozy. But I knew if it were warmer, I’d hate carrying it around, and it wouldn’t fit into the backpack. Since we were moving around so much on this trip, I decided against bringing it, and I’m so glad about that. I only would’ve worn it once, and that day I just layered with the cardigan, fleece, rain coat, and scarf, and I was fine.


I bought the two purses right before this trip, and it turned out to be a great combination. The little purse fit snuggly into the large purse, with my other items surrounding it. The camera inside the little purse was still pretty easy to get to, and when I left the big purse behind at the hotel, the little one was nice and lightweight and super easy to carry around. I’ve used backpack purses in the past, but I prefer having a bag that I can sit down with or access without taking off, and that I don’t have to worry about people snitching from when standing right behind me in line. It is quite tight with the camera and phone inside, but I found that once I took out my camera, it was pretty easy to leave that around my neck and not return to the bag until the photo opportunities were done. So getting the camera in and out didn’t need to happen too often.

All the t-shirts I brought were grey or black, so it was really easy to re-wear them if needed. I did spill oily food on my t-shirt in the airport before we even left the country, so I didn’t wear that one again. I usually wore each day’s t-shirt to bed. I also wore the same bra the whole time, and I don’t care if you think that’s gross; it happened. When the only person you know there is your partner, the convenience factor wins. Same reason I only had two pairs of pants with me. I was pretty tired of them by the end, but multiple pairs of pants would be heavy and bulky to pack. I would have handwashed and/or dried if anything got spilled on or we got caught in the rain. My hiking boots were water-resistant and never gave me any trouble. I wore my cap every day for the wind or sun.

Overall, I think I had everything I truly needed and I also didn’t overpack. Over 6 days, we stayed in 5 different accomodations and one sleeper train, so it was essential that we were really mobile.

How I pack

We could move around quickly with one backpack and one extra bag each. I’ve found that if I’m wearing a backpack, then I want to just hand-carry my second bag. Having something across the body is too much shoulder strain for me, but that’s what Kevin did, and it worked for him.

How I pack

When I was at check-in counters or cash registers and needed both hands free, the tote sat nicely on my arm out of the way and didn’t feel too heavy. It was a surprisingly manageable setup, and I’ll definitely be using it again.

Every trip we take, we get closer to our ideal packing system, and this time I think we nailed it.

How I Pack Carry-on for 1 Week

How I Pack Carry-on for 1 WeekSaveSave




4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. What a great read. I Haven’t travelled with a rucksack for years but find all your suggestions so helpful and the gallon ziplock bags idea, inspired! Thank you, Mary

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.