No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry-On

We are back from France! It was a really awesome trip but we’re glad to be home in New York. It’s also Bobby’s birthday today, so wish him a happy birthday icon wink No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On I will definitely write more about the food, etc… but first I wanted to share my packing strategy. I used to overpack for everything but I’m more of a minimalist these days and, for me, traveling is more enjoyable if you’re not lugging lots of baggage.

I was especially inspired by this post to try going to Paris for 9 days without checking any bags. Bobby and I each took a small personal item (a messenger bag for him and my ancient LL Bean monogrammed backpack for me) and one larger carry-on (an adidas swim bag for Bobby and a carry-on-sized roller suitcase for me). I actually ended up packing more than I ended up needing. But I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. (These pictures are mostly only my things; Bobby’s are not pictured but his strategy was similar.)

Accessories & Shoes:

01 shoes accessories No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On

  • 3 pairs of shoes (danskos, flats, and dressy flip flops), a scarf, 2 umbrellas, jewelry (necklaces, earrings, and a small bag to keep them safe)


02 tops No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On

  • 5 tanks, 1 black sweater, 2 long-sleeved tee’s, 1 3/4 sleeve dressy-ish sweater, and 1 3/4 sleeve tee (so 5 tanks and 5 tops = 10 total; I think I wore all of them)
  • As you can see, I am a fan of Gap.

Bottoms & Dresses:

03 bottoms dresses No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On

  • 1 jean skirt (didn’t wear), 1 pair of jeans, 2 capris (overkill = I only wore the black ones), 2 dresses (one comfy, one a little more dressy)

Underwear! (Bobby’s is on the right) & Comfy Clothes:

04 underwear No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On

  • 6ish pairs of underwear and socks for each of us (we had access to a washing machine towards the end of the week), 1 bummy tank and 1 pair of bummy shorts (I packed the underwear in a smaller bag inside the carry-on – it helped to keep things organized)


05 purses sweater No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On

  • 1 regular purse (black), a bigger purse – brown leather (only used 1 day), and a cloth purse (I actually just used this to hold our rolled up formal wear, which is unpictured)
  • Also my granny sweater that Bobby hates – this was a staple. France was a lot colder than it was supposed to be.

That’s about it. Some unpictured items were:

  • 2 computers (probably could have gotten by with just one…)
  • An iPad (edited to add: this way we didn’t have to bring entertainment like books, magazines, games, etc… – I did bring 2 small books though and finished 1.5 of them)
  • An iPod
  • A big DSLR camera (great for vacation pictures)
  • Toiletries – didn’t really bring much since we couldn’t bring anything larger than 3 ounces. We found cheap toiletries at a grocery store in France.

Somehow we managed to get everything into just our 2 bags each. We didn’t bring back any souvenirs (except a few bars of chocolate…). It was the most hassle-free overseas trip ever. Definitely a success. Next time we’ll be able to take even less. It was a great lesson on living with less – which makes me happy. I am a firm believer in the idea that the less stuff you have, the happier and less stressed you are.

Ta ta for now; I’m going to go give Bobby a birthday HUG and enjoy the rest of my evening. It’s 1:30am in Paris time so I’m a little bit tired icon wink No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry On And I have to go to work tomorrow.

P.S. I completely forgot about my water bottle giveaway last week; I’ll keep it open until midnight tonight. The CamelBak was clutch for our trip – we took it everywhere and refilled it many times each day.

10 Comments on No Checked Bags: 9 Days in 1 Carry-On

  1. Katie R
    12 June, 2011 at 8:28 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post on packing! I’d be curious to know if you brought anything else: books, magazines, games, etc. Those things always consume a lot of space in my carryons.

    • Maggie
      12 June, 2011 at 8:30 pm (3 years ago)

      @Katie R: Good question! I brought 2 small books. But the iPad has a bunch of eBooks on it so that was a HUGE space saver. It also has games, podcasts, videos… So we didn’t have to bring much entertainment aside from the iPad.

  2. The Delicate Place
    12 June, 2011 at 8:42 pm (3 years ago)

    aww happy bday bobby! enjoy your last night there :) i’m a spartan packer! nate and i pack 1 medium suitcase and I bring a large purse as my carryon and he brings a laptop bag. i’m the queen of mix n match wardrobe on trips haha.

    • Maggie
      15 June, 2011 at 7:26 am (3 years ago)

      @The Delicate Place: Next time I’m definitely going to try to bring even less! It’s sooo much easier with less luggage.

  3. VeggieGirl
    12 June, 2011 at 9:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Welcome back!! Wanna come pack for me for my upcoming trip? :D

    • Maggie
      15 June, 2011 at 7:27 am (3 years ago)

      @VeggieGirl: LOL that would be great! Which trip is coming up? Good luck if it’s one of the dance competitions!!

  4. coco
    13 June, 2011 at 7:18 pm (3 years ago)

    happy belated birthday to Bobby!

  5. Heather Eats Almond Butter
    13 June, 2011 at 10:25 pm (3 years ago)

    Impressive Maggie. I somehow lost my efficient packing abilities. I think it was because I know have to bring a stroller and car seat along…AND to top it off, my laptop does NOT fit in the diaper bag. She’s totally worth it though. :)

    Chocolate = my favorite souvenir.

    Glad you guys made it home okay. Sounds like it was a wonderful trip, and I hope Bobby had a wonderful birthday!

  6. Tiffany
    15 June, 2011 at 7:35 pm (3 years ago)

    Glad you are safely home, and I hope Bobby had a great b-day!! It’s also really great to hear about your packing strategy, as Blair and I are off to England for a week in October, and do NOT want to check any bags!! We will each have a small suitcase to carry on, plus a small backpack/messenger bag each, and that’s it. Luckily, we’re renting a flat in England (we are staying in Bath), so we’ll be able to do laundry!