carry on only packing list for minimalist travel

Carry On Only Packing List for a Trip Up to 3 Weeks!

Last year we took a trip to Europe that was 21 days long, crossed multiple climate zones, and involved multiple airline flights and train rides. We also had our toddler with us, including all her gear (stroller, etc!) so traveling with a carry-on only packing list was key to our success. The last thing we wanted to do was be dragging multiple huge suitcases across a continent! 

Here’s exactly what I brought with my tips and some links. Of course, this is just a guide that worked for me. Feel free to adjust according to your personal preferences, your destination, etc.

carry on only packing list with monos carry on pro plus

Choose Versatile Neutral Clothes for a Carry-On Only Packing List

I focused on mix-and-match neutrals so that every item in my suitcase could be worn together! The result was over 30 outfit combinations:

✔️4 long sleeved tops: This can be a mix of button-downs and lightweight sweaters or long sleeve tees. I get cold easily, so I appreciate the option of layering a long sleeve shirt in air conditioned spaces. As well, a button-down can double as a lightweight jacket when temps drop at night, or a protective sun coverup at the beach.

✔️4 tees and 3 tanks: Stick with basic neutrals so that everything can be mixed and matched! I brought 4 tees in white, black, grey, and brown; then 3 tanks in white, black, and brown. 

✔️4 pairs of shorts: I packed 1 pair light denim shorts, 1 pair dark denim shorts, black shorts in a jersey fabric that’s chic enough to be dressed up or down, and a pair of cotton bike shorts for working out, hiking, etc.

✔️2 pairs of pants: I opted for one pair of light wash jeans in a versatile straight-leg fit, and one pair of army green cargo pants in a comfortable cotton that would be breathable even on hot days.

✔️ As you can see in the above birds-eye-view of my suitcase, I roll each garment and place them in like sardines, instead of folding and stacking them in my suitcase. I find I can fit more that way. I can also see every item when I open the suitcase, without having to rummage around. For small garments like tanks and tees, I rolled them and then stuffed them in my shoes to really maximize space!

quince black tank dress

jenni kayne everyday sweater

Rounding Out Your Carry On Only Packing List

To complete your outfit options, look for dresses and skirts that can be dressed up or down. And of course don’t forget comfy underlayers!

✔️2 dresses: I brought a black ribbed tank dress and a brown fit & flare dress. These dresses were both simple and versatile for layering a light sweater, tee, or button-down on top of to change up my look. Above you can see the black dress for daytime with sneakers, and then dressed for evening with flats and a sweater. 

✔️1 skirt: A silk slip skirt is the perfect travel companion, since it can be dressed up or down and takes up barely any space in carry on only luggage. I brought one in a neutral leopard print (the only non-solid item I packed!) but black or champagne is also a great option.

✔️1 workout set: I like the option to do a workout when I travel, so I tucked a pair of lightweight running shorts (already mentioned above), plus a sports bra, and a quick-dry tank.

✔️ 1 bathing suit: I brought this simple black two-piece bathing suit for the few days we had at the beach in southern Italy.

✔️ Jammies, undies, bras: My “pajamas” were just an oversized tee that I could also wear casually around the hotel at the end of the day. I brought 10 pairs of underwear and two bras (we were able to do laundry halfway through the trip). It’s worth noting that I only brought two pairs of socks, because after 10 years living in LA I’m just not a socks person. All of these undergarments I squeezed into the center mesh zipper pocket of my carry on suitcase.

jenni kayne slip skirt leopard

Bring Shoes that Best Suit the Activities You Have Planned

Shoes are really the category where you have to consider what you’ll be doing most often during your trip, and pack accordingly.

✔️ 2 pairs sneakers: I brought light-colored Vans slip-ons and black Adidas Sambas. Both were very comfortable for walking long distances (15k steps a day was what we averaged while in Europe). I also had a pair of New Balance 327’s that I wore on the plane; those doubled as workout shoes when needed. 

✔️1 pair sandals: Because I knew we’d be walking a ton, I only brought one pair of sandals—and they were waterproof slides for the beach/pool/etc. I probably would have made room for a pair of nicer strappy sandals too, if I’d been planning more activities where I could wear them.

✔️1 pair ballet flats: These were the shoes I wore with skirts and dresses when we went out for a nice dinner. I prefer flats in general, even in dress-up situations, since I prefer to walk to dinner when traveling and flats are more practical for that.

carry on only packing list for europe

Carry On Only Packing List Extras

The luggage and other gear you bring can really make or break your packing strategy!

✔️ The roller bag I carried was the Monos Carry On Pro Plus—it was very spacious and I really appreciated the front pocket for my laptop and other tech. On a budget, Quince makes a nearly identical roller bag for half the price and while I’ve not used it, the reviews on their site are very good.

✔️ In addition to my roller bag, I had the CalPak Luka backpack. I used that for my toiletries (which I just put in a clear Ziploc bag) as well as books and games to keep my daughter entertained on the plane/train, snacks, etc. It was a perfect size to hold JUST enough without getting too heavy on my back, and the straps are cushioned and comfortable. It also has a strap to fasten to your roller bag if desired. Highly recommend it for keeping those small items easily within reach!

✔️One of the best purchases we made for the trip was the Inglesina Quid Travel Stroller. My husband did a ton of research and this was the one that came out on top. It was amazing! Super lightweight, easy to open and close, and small enough to fit in an airplane overhead bin. Our toddler comfortably napped, ate, and lounged all across Europe in it!

carry on only packing list inglesina quid travel stroller

I hope this was helpful! Feel free to DM me on Instagram with any follow-up questions!