How to Pack for a Month in 5 Countries in a Carry-On

I’m boarding a plane right now and I won’t be home for a month.

I’m starting at a conference in Las Vegas, where I’ll be attending a red carpet event, multiple parties, and of course business sessions, followed by a weekend in San Francisco visiting friends, then on to Stockholm, Sweden for a couple of days before heading to Portugal for a week to explore in a rental car. Then on to Barcelona for a few days for another conference, and finally a week in Turkey, and I still don’t know what the itinerary there will include.

Whew! That’s a lot of travel in different places. Luckily, the climate will be similar enough everywhere that I don’t need to vary my attire that much. However, the activities range from hiking to the red carpet, literally, AND, I’ll be on three Ryanair flights throughout the trip, which has stricter baggage size allowance.

So how did I do it? Like a pro.

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Step 1: Choose the backpack and purse.

Backpack logic: I knew my 30L was out for this trip; I simply needed too much. Not just clothing, but my mobile office as well, which means a computer, cameras and accessories, notebooks, etc., but I still wanted something small enough to fit as a carry-on, so I turned to my trusty Gregory Jade 50.

Purse logic: I chose a zipper-top purse that is big enough to fit my laptop, with a long shoulder strap so I can carry it across my body comfortably with my backpack.

Clothes to pack for one month

Step 2: Clothes

Left to right, top to bottom:

  • 3 dressy tank tops
  • 3 cotton long-sleeved shirts
  • 3 t-shirts, including one to sleep in (and a pair of cotton shorts to sleep in)
  • 1 warm button-up hoodie
  • 3 tank tops
  • 2 long sleeve cover-ups for layering (1 Smartwool pullover, 1 lightweight athletic hoodie)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 scarf that goes with everything
  • 3 leggings (2 long, 1 capri)
  • 1 black mini skirt (to layer over leggings)
  • 1 pair skinny jeans
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 running skirt (see The Best Travel Skirt Ever)
  • socks, underwear (lots – in case I can’t do laundry for a while), bras, and 1 bathing suit are in the green zipped pouch pictured below

Clothes logic: Notice the themes of “three” and “versatile.” All of these tops can layer with each other and with all of the bottoms, which equals multiple different outfits.

There is enough to keep me warm, enough to work out in, enough to dress up in, and enough to wear everyday clothes. Note that the business conference is casual.

Shoes to pack

Step 3: Shoes

I adapted that list to this trip based on my list of best shoes to travel with (see it in this post: Best Travel Shoes According to the Experts).

Shoe logic:

  • Flip flops (always, for showers if nothing else)
  • Dressy flats (hopefully they won’t kick me off the red carpet, I just can’t justify bringing heels for one night, and the flats I can wear with any outfit)
  • Boots (these boots are made for walkin’, which I’ll be doing a lot of, and they’ll go nicely with jeans and leggings)
  • Runners (gotta hike, run, do my thing, a month is a long time without runners)
How to pack for one month

Step 4: Gadgets

I don’t always mention that I bring my laptop because I assume most of you don’t, but this time I’m including everything because I know that sometimes we all have to bring things that aren’t considered “normal” for traveling. Just disregard the mobile office if it has nothing to do with you.

If you’re not bringing any work or electronics, you could probably cut this list in half.

Step 5: Pack it all up

travel clothes
Packing for one month

Making sure my pack won’t be too fat, I pack vertically, still leaving enough room to bring home goodies, AND I know this will fit in the Ryanair overhead compartments. Everything fit just like that, I’m only carrying my laptop and a few other essentials in my purse. Voilá!

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8 replies on “How to Pack for a Month in 5 Countries in a Carry-On”

I am taking my gregory baltoro 65 to Switzerland for 10 days. I want to take a small daypack as well for the flight (to carry laptop, headphones, book, etc) (same concept as a gal having a purse). Do you recommend strapping that second item to the big backpack when you are walking from place to place etc? Or do you just carry it with a spare hand? thanks!

Hey Pete! I would recommend one of two things – 1) IF it also fits inside your pack, you could easily stuff it while you’re going from place to place, or 2) If it doesn’t fit, then I would recommend “it” being some sort of a shoulder bag that you can easily and comfortably carry in front of you while you get from place to place. Having two packs is super annoying, although definitely possible if you have to.

Thanks so much Jackie! Also, I listened to the podcast episode about how to pack luggage (specifically from a guys perspective) — super helpful. Might have to get one of those tortuga packs at some point 🙂 Hope all is well in Argentina right now!!

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