Whether it’s a seven day or three week trip, I love to travel using only a carry-on and a personal bag. Some are amazed that it’s possible and those that do opine that they could never do it. I disagree, respectfully, of course. Packing in a carry-on requires a little more thought but the time you spend at home will mean you will spend less time at the airport.
I can only write from a guy’s perspective but certainly this is applicable for the gals as well. Let’s start with clothing for a 7 day warm weather trip and then we can modify it for a 3 week trip.
2 pairs of trousers
2 pairs of shorts
2 long sleeve (LS) shirts
2 short sleeve (SS)shirts
2 tee shirts
3 pairs of underwear
A bathing suit
1 pair of shoes
1 pair of flip-flops
That’s a very short list, right? You may think it’s not nearly enough for 7 days but let’s do the math. (2 trousers x 2 LS) + ( 2 trousers x 2 tee shirts) + (2 trousers + SS) = 12 different looks. If you add in the shorts that gives you 24 different looks. And keep in mind, this does not count what you have on your back. 24 different looks should be enough for 7 days don’t you think? Three pairs of underwear may sound like under-packing but that’s why you have a hotel or AirBnB sink. Wash them out after use let them air dry after rolling them in a towel to wick out the excess water. And voila, 24 hours later a fresh pair!
On our recent 25 day trip to Italy, this is nearly what I packed but because of the unexpected heatwave, I didn’t wear 3 LS shirts or 2 trousers (maybe twice). That meant I didn’t wear 5 items that I packed in my carry-on. Fortunately, I threw in an extra pair of shorts and another SS in my carry-on and I was good to go.
If you like to dress more casually then remove 2 LS and add in an extra tee and SS. If you’re wearing a lightweight sweater or jacket (or both) on the plane that will work with the other clothing you packed, you are in styling heaven. And that’s the trick, everything must go together which means you have to stay within 2 neutral color palettes - tan, navy, black or gray. Yep, it’s boring but it’s effective.
Your inclination is to always pack everything that you might need but you don’t ever need as much as you think. Extra pairs of shoes are the packing killer. You are wearing a pair on the plane, bring a pair of soft wearable sneakers (I like Allbirds), and flip-flops. If you have room, which you may if you follow this thinking, another pair of walking shoes can be added. Gals can use the same sort of method with pants, dresses (which are obviously standalone), shorts and blouses but I claim no expertise in this area!
Make your life easier. A carry-on is the way to go and your personal bag can include your dop kit and electronics or whatever else you may need. Get out of the airport as soon as possible and avoid luggage handling fees. You will be happy you did.