How a to Pack like a Minimalist: A Week at the Beach in a Carry-On

Anyone who knew me growing up knows that I used to be an aggressive overpacker. I’d go somewhere for a night and you’d look at my stuff and think how long are you planning on being gone? But thanks to minimalism those days are over. A couple weeks ago I went to a wedding and packed my overnight necessities into a purse {very proud moment for me}.

Senior year of college, I went to LA for spring break and packed for nine days with just a carry-on, so I knew doing the same for a week at the beach would be a breeze. I will say, I’m still surprised at how much you can fit in a carry-on. I have plenty of friends that cram as much as possible into a large checked bag and still feel like that isn’t enough. To me, it’s the same concept as looking at a closet full of clothes and thinking ugh, I have nothing to wear – it simply isn’t true. So how do you pack for an entire week in just a carry-on?

Pack the Basics

I mean basics in two senses. Pack just what you need, and pack the most basic, neutral version. With the exception of one dress, I think everything I packed was either black, white, gray, or denim. It all goes together and makes decisions relatively easy.

Pack for Maximum Usage

For this trip, I could have packed a dedicated coverup. Instead, I packed an oversized white button down that could be worn alone as a coverup or with shorts or jeans. Double the usage and half the space. If there’s a pair of jeans or shorts that you can use to create a couple of different outfits, opt for those over a trendier pair.

Plan Out Your Outfits

I did this only very loosely, but that’s because my wardrobe is so basic, so I’m able to mix and match pretty frequently. I packed enough for an outfit for each day, and a couple of extra options for going out at night or for when my clothes got wet or sandy down at the beach.

Check the Weather

Or as the Wilders say, check the Webb. Know what you’re getting yourself into. If you need to be packing for rain and shine, that’s important to know.

Pack Only the Most Important Things

In my beach essentials post, I could have included a bunch of other things. Beach games, a beach tent, books, the list could go on. But I didn’t need those things and I didn’t miss them. I did know that I wanted a comfy towel and blanket and waterproof speakers so I didn’t have to worry about damaging them. Focus on what you’ll really use and only bring those things.

Leave Out the “Just in Case” Items

If you’ve planned out your outfits in advance, this part should be pretty easy. I’m so used to eliminating the things I don’t need, that I’m trying to even think what these items would be except for extras of things you’re already bringing (I’m guilty, too). If there are things you packed for your last vacation that you didn’t use, chances are you won’t need them this time either.

What to Wear vs. What to Pack

I knew I’d probably be cold in the car on the way there, so I brought my blanket in the car. It could have fit in my bag, but that gave me extra space if I needed it for some reason. As far as shoes go, my Stan Smiths would have taken up the most space in my carry-on, so I wore those. I tied a sweatshirt around my waist, put on my sunnies, and I was good to go.

So, what did I pack? Click each item for details

There are definitely things that I packed for the trip that are not pictured, but these things (in addition to extra swim suits, yoga pants, and hair styling tools) are really all I needed. And, all of those extra items still fit in the carry-on. So if you’re a chronic over-packer, just know that if I can do it, anyone can do it.

S H O P   T H E   P O S T

I’d love to hear your packing tips! Comment below!

Post sponsored by Turkish-T and Scosche. All opinions are my own.


Caitlin Edwards

Great post! I always try to pack in a carry on! I always wear a coat on the plane to save space in my suitcase!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *