How to: Use ONLY a Carry On when Traveling

carry on

Tradeshow season is starting up again at work, so I have some traveling to do…Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta…though, that last one isn’t quite “travel”. We’re bringing some new faces to shows this year. I was in charge of buying flights, and they did not include checked bags. One of the girls asked me, “Wait, we’re expected to fit everything in a carry on?”. We never/rarely travel for more than four days. For this first trip, it’s exactly four days, where two of those days are travel days.

This is the type of schedule we run at these shows.

Day 1: Plane travel. Arrival. Booth set up. Dinner/Cocktail Hour.

Day 2: Tradeshow for 12 hours. Dinner/Show.

Day 3: Tradeshow for 12 hours. Booth break down. Dinner.

Day 4: Plane travel.

I’m not a high maintenance person. I’m also not a low maintenance person. The first time I ever did one of these tradeshows, I had to wear a shirt twice because I didn’t plan well enough and my bag was too small. Really, it’s quite simple to travel with only a carry on (well, plus a personal item).

1. Plan your outfits.

These seems redundant, but is actually important! Don’t just toss clothes in a bag, saying you’ll wear it. Actually think about how you’re going to feel for what you’re going to wear. For me, I’m going to be stuck in jeans at the event all day, so I’m bringing dresses for the evenings. However, there might be a time during this trip where I won’t have more time than it takes to just change my shirt, so I’ll be ready for that too.

Outfit planning helps with shoes too! If you’re only traveling with a carry on, wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane. It will save you a ton of space.

2. Be smart with your toiletries.

If you don’t put lotion on every day, don’t bring it. You’re not magically going to change your habits when you travel. Also, save some money! Yes, buying all of the cute little travel size bottles of shampoo and conditioner is fun. However, it’s also a huge money suck. Make the “investment” and get some reusable bottles. My toiletries are never in mini size, so this helps to make sure I’m not using anything weird or cheap from the hotels.

3. Downsize.

Chances are, you don’t need your big purse for your trip. What will you really need while traveling? Probably your phone, some hand sanitizer, cash, credit cards, and your ID. I used to bring a super small crossbody bag, but then someone stole cash from me while I was working a booth. This time, I got a super cute wristlet that will hold my essentials. It’s easy enough to drop in my backpack for work, and then hold what I need when we go out afterward.

4. Keep the essentials/valuables in your personal item.

I’m traveling for work, so I’ll have my work computer with me. I’ll also have my new wristlet and some books, and all of the imperative things in my personal item. I’m a big reader, so I’ll have at least one or two books. I have my Kindle Fire, so I might download some books there to avoid bringing multiple books and weighing me down. First book of my travels: The Woman in the Window.


What are your travel tips and tricks?

Note: This post contains affiliate links, so I may receive a small commission from sales generated.

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