I just got back from a 10 day trip to London and Iceland (recap to come) and I only brought a carry-on and a personal bag. Honestly, it was a STRUGGLE to fit everything I wanted to bring. Both London and Iceland had cooler rainy weather but I wanted to look cute for the 3 days we were in London and be prepared for the 7 days of outdoorsy adventures in Iceland. I started pulling clothes I wanted to bring into a pile and soon had a baby mountain that was clearly NOT going to fit in a carry-on. To stop myself from overpacking, I visually put together outfits and thought hard about what I would actually need. I came up with a system that I’m pretty proud of and wanted to share!
Linked here is a Google photo album I created to help me organize my outfits and ensure that I was bringing only what I needed (yes I am fully aware that my wardrobe is mostly white/black/grey lol). I took pictures of the outfits/clothes/etc. that I wanted to bring and started grouping/organizing. I broke it down by city, outfits, accessories, shoes, sleep clothes, and what I would bring if it fits in my suitcase. Considering that I am a very visual person, this was hands down the most effective method I’ve ever used to organize my packing.
Seeing exactly what I would be packing laid out neatly allowed me to question 1) whether I really needed to pack a specific item and 2) whether I had all the basics covered. For instance, I was going to pack all these heavier sweaters for the cold weather. However, I realized that they would take up a TON of space in my carry-on and I wouldn’t necessarily be able to wear them in Iceland with all my other layering pieces (under my Patagonia fleece and rainjacket would have been way too bulky). I was about to pack 2 pairs of jeans for the 3 days in London but realized 1 pair would work nicely for all the potential London outfits. I also REALLY wanted to pack my 3in heeled black suede booties for high tea in London. However, it wasn’t actually worth it to waste space on shoes that would only work for one occasion.
I ended up packing everything quite nicely into my carry-on and a bookbag. Along with all the clothes, my carry-on fit my socks, intimates, and liquids. My bookbag fit my purse, random electronics, and a couple pairs of shoes. I wore my biggest items (duck boots and blanket scarf) onto the plane to reduce wasted space. Pro tip though is that I packed my flip flops into my bookbag to ensure that I wouldn’t have to move around the plane with clown shoes.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this for shorter trips because it is time consuming to try on different outfits and take pictures of everything. But for longer trips where packing light is essential yet difficult, I highly recommend!
Also wanted to mention that I employed the use of packing cubes and they are the BEST when trying to stay organized within your suitcase. I rolled up my tops into the cubes which helped me stay organized and know where everything generally was in my suitcase. I could easily take out a cube to figure out what top I wanted to wear and then simply place it back into my suitcase without disturbing the other rolled tops. Outside of the cubes, I stacked my jeans/leggings and had liquids/shoes in their own individual bags, and placed socks/intimates/electronics in the built in pockets of the suitcase. The bigger pieces like sweatshirts/sweaters were placed on top of everything and voila: beautifully tetris-like packed suitcase!!!
Hope this was helpful!