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Natalie Borton

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NATALIE

I am a believer in owning your personal style, saying what you mean, asking for what you want, living authentically and the power of simplicity — in fashion, and in life.

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3 Weeks in a Carry-On (with International Travel)

I still felt like I had so many options and that I always had the right thing to wear.

I just got back from a 3-week trip and am happy to report that the whole family successfully traveled with only carry-on luggage (even with an international leg of the journey!). It made for much easier and less stressful travel, and I enjoyed mixing and matching everything to suit the occasion. In this post I’ll share everything in my packing list, but first I want to start with some quick tips for packing light for those of you looking to travel with less but are unsure how to start…

Start with the Essentials

The first step to packing light is to identify the essentials. What are the clothes, toiletries, and other items that you absolutely cannot live without? Once you have a list of essentials, you can start to whittle down your packing list. Remember: outfit repeating is normal and encouraged!

Choose Versatile Pieces

When packing for a long trip with very limited packing space, it’s important to choose versatile pieces that can be worn a variety of ways, as well as dressed up or down. This will help you get the most out of your clothes and avoid overpacking. For example, a dress can be worn with sandals or heels to a nice dinner, or during the day with sneakers for walking around.

Invest in Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to keep your clothes organized and save space. I hadn’t used them until this year and they have made it SO EASY to stick to my carry on. They also help to prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled. When packing, try to group your clothes by type — this makes it easier to find what you’re looking for and avoid overpacking.

Pack for the Weather

No matter where you’re headed, it’s always important to pack for the weather. If you’re traveling to New England in the fall, for example, you’ll want layers to stay warm. And if you’re visiting the French Riviera in the summer, you’ll need to pack light, airy fabrics to stay cool. And always remember to wear your biggest layers or chunkiest items (i.e. a coat and/or sneakers) on the flight to save room in your suitcase!

Don’t Forget the Accessories

Accessories go a long way and take up very little space. When packing, be sure to include pieces that can change up a simple look, such as bags, jewelry hats or sunglasses. This is also an easy way to add pattern and color to more neutral, mix-and-match base pieces in your suitcase.

Now, let’s get into the specifics — here’s what I packed in my carry-on and tote bag for 3 weeks away. We visited New England, Paris and the French Riviera, and I needed attire for the beach, boating, casually hanging around the house, walking around a city, and fine dining. I’m really happy with what I brought and felt prepared for all of those situations with the exception of sneakers — I failed to pack mine and ended up purchasing a pair on my trip. I’ve added them to the list here because I definitely wore them a lot once I bought them.

3 Weeks in a Carry-On (with International Travel)

Read the Comments +

  1. Kimberly Nelson says:

    Hi Natalie,
    Love having you back!!! You’re smile lights up a room and is sooo contagious!!!
    Is the tube top itchy ?

  2. Lori says:

    Hi and welcome back!

    I love your packing list and will be referencing it for an 18-day trip to Spain and Portugal. Can you explain what you wore on flights? Was that separate from your packing list?

    Thanks so much 🙂

    • Natalie says:

      Glad this is helpful!! For flights, I wore my black pull-on trousers, black tank or tube top and a layer. Easy, comfortable, and still looks put-together when you arrive.

  3. Katie says:

    Welcome back!! Quick question, Europe and New England can be very warm in the summer…did you get sweaty and did need to do laundry? Did you factor that in to this carry in plan? Thanks!

    • Natalie says:

      We thankfully were able to do laundry while visiting family, so that made it easier to pack light and rewear things. That being said, a lot of hotels have laundry services that could be used for a long trip without access to laundry.

  4. Ana says:

    Happy to see you back loved your packing list and I agree candence are the best.

  5. Krista says:

    So glad you are back! I am preparing for a three week trip to AU and NZ in November (it will be spring time there), do you think the NA NIN pants would be too lightweight for that time of year? And if so, is there another pull on pant that you would recommend that would be heavier? It does say it’s silk/canvas so maybe it’s a bit thicker? I have the Reformation Mason and those are maybe a little too thin. Appreciate your advice! Can’t wait to see what’s next for you!! Xx

  6. Stephanie Frederickson says:

    Glad you enjoyed your time away but happy to see you are back! ♥️

    How was the crochet dress as a coverup? Not too heavy? It’s beautiful.

  7. Victoria says:

    Welcome back! Thank you for the inspiration with this post. We are travelling to Belgium and The Netherlands for two weeks at the end of the month to celebrate a milestone birthday and planning to take just a carry on with us. We still have to check the weather since in our trip to Switzerland last November is was incredibly warm to be Fall (mid 70s).

  8. Barbara says:

    Good for you!!! Question – Would you mind sharing how you handled toiletries and other products?? This is always such a challenge for me. Thank you…and welcome back!!

    • Natalie says:

      Great question! Much like with the clothing decisions, I take out everything I want to bring, and then one by one remove the non-essentials. I also, put things into travel-sized containers (I like Cadence) to save space. On this trip, I brought my prescription skincare (2 items), face moisturizer, a small face sunscreen, leave-in conditioner (in a Cadence container) and a tiny little toothpaste container. For makeup, I just brought brow gel, bronzer and blush. And we bought sunscreen when we arrived at our destination. Hope that helps!

  9. LR says:

    So happy you’re back! Can you share where the brown and black bags are from? Thanks!

  10. Kathleen says:

    So glad you are back! I love this idea of travelling carry-on only! As an aside, would you ever share what you pack for your two children in their carry ons? Planning an Australia to America trip in 2024 with 2 rugrats!

  11. Goga says:

    So happy you are here again, dear Natalie!
    I am glad you have enjoyed your summer and being the women you are.💛

  12. Alli says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip! So happy that you’re back! 🙂

  13. nisha patel says:

    glad yo recharged and are back! look forward to your weekly newsletters!

  14. Jennifer says:

    So happy to see you back! Glad you were able to have a lovely trip to Paris!! Love your wardrobe picks!

  15. LeeAnn says:

    Yay you are back! Thank you for the inspiration and details. I love only using carry ons. My husband and I went to Europe for 3 months last spring and only used carry ons. It’s incredible to simplify your choices while at the same time using what you have. 🙂 looking forward to reading your blog and receiving your newsletter.

  16. Amy says:

    Yay! You’re back ❤️

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Hi, I'm Natalie

I am a believer in owning your personal style, saying what you mean, asking for what you want, living authentically and the power of simplicity — in fashion, and in life.

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