Have you heard of the ‘Just-In-Case’ traveller? Up until recently, I myself used to be one. We’re (in)famous for one thing – when we travel, even if it’s just for a weekend, we try to lug half our wardrobe (and more) with us….just in case!
What if we only bring 1 pair of sandals and they get wet? Or what if the weather is too hot or too chilly? The usual result is a highly overstuffed check-in bag that weighs a tonne and is chock full of unnecessary items. Sound familiar? Join the club (please don’t!).
There are just so many benefits to doing weekend city breaks ONLY with a carry-on bag. It’s already included in the price of the flight ticket, and we have it with us at all times so no worries about it getting lost or misplaced. And the best part is we can literally breeze through the airport – no queuing up to check-in our bag or impatiently waiting at the carousel.
Here are my golden rules on packing everything you need for the weekend in a carry-on bag, PLUS a day-by-day breakdown of what you could bring along, based on one of our real-life itineraries!
Plan your outfits by your itinerary
Never underestimate the power of a good plan! Just like how you do your research on the top sights and must-do activities in this city, planning your outfits by your itinerary will ensure you’re fully prepared and appropriately attired for whatever you plan to do. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect match.
Plan your outfits based roughly on what you think you’ll be doing each day. If you plan to do lots of shopping on Day 1, you might want to bring something that you can change in and out of easily. Or if you know you’re going to be exploring the city all day and then head straight to dinner, you might want to pick something that can transition seamlessly from day to night. And don’t forget to plan for the weather, especially if you foresee yourself spending a lot of time outdoors. No ensemble looks good when soggy.
Aim for 2 outfits per day
You only have a carry-on bag so be practical when planning how many outfits to bring. For each day, aim to have 1 outfit for daytime exploring and 1 for night time activities. Bonus points if you have pieces you can wear throughout the day into the night like a pair of dark jeans. As for shoes and bags, they’re heavy and take up precious real estate in your carry-on bag. For bags, bring 1 larger bag for the day and a smaller sling bag or clutch for night time. For shoes, bring 2 or 3 pairs of shoes that you can use interchangeably.
Only bring versatile back-ups
How many times have you packed an outfit that you’re completely happy with the night before, but when it comes time to putting it on, it just doesn’t feel ‘right’? To prepare for this, bring along 2 or 3 (not 10!) back-up pieces that you can easily mix and match with your primary outfits.
Monochrome pieces like a crisp white shirt (see how to style it here) and a black pencil skirt are highly versatile and can be dressed either up or down. If you prefer a more colourful style, opt for bright block coloured tops to pair with jeans. Rather than packing a whole separate outfit for the same activity, versatile back-ups will give you the flexibility of changing your mind without adding too much weight.
This is hands down the best way to squeeze all your stuff into your carry-on bag. Rolling clothes is space efficient as it makes them small enough to squeeze into little nooks and crannies. If you use a wheelie bag, your rolled up clothes will fit perfectly into the little grooves at the base of the bag. Rolling also allows you to stack your clothes into neat bundles, making them easy to identify and take out without having to rummage through all your other pieces. It also minimises the amount of crease lines you inevitably get when your bag gets tossed around or dragged across the city.
Samples and travel-sized items are your best friends
The last piece of your beautifully packed carry-on bag is adding your skincare and beauty products. Leave your regular-sized products at home as they are heavy, bulky and most likely over the 100ml allowance, which is the maximum amount per bottle of liquids, creams, gels and aerosols you can have in your carry-on bag. Even if a bottle is partially full but over 100ml, you still might not be allowed to bring it along so don’t risk it!
Instead, get samples from your favourite brands or transfer the products into travel-sized containers. You can get these little containers from places like Daiso, Watsons or Muji. Don’t forget to pop them right on top near the zipper so they are easily accessible when you go through airport security.
So what’s in a Megsmesh carry-on bag for a weekend city break? Take a look!