If you listened to my podcast, The Heidi Rew Show, you know that somehow I managed to fit all my clothes and toiletries for 11 days in Italy into a carry-on. I only repeated an outfit once (it was my overalls and I did change my tank top the 2nd time). Here’s how that happened…
My friends have always made fun of me for my “packing skills.” I’m the girl that shows up for a weekend trip with a huge suitcase AND carry-on. I knew for my trip to Italy (to record episodes for my podcast, The Heidi Rew Show) I’d need to reel it in. I’d have my podcast equipment that would take up one bag so the rest of my clothes and toiletries needed to fit in a carry-on. I knew I’d need to walk my luggage around a bit, so I wanted a manageable amount.
I could NOT believe it when everything fit in my carry-on! Now…in all honesty, I did not come back with just a carry-on and bag with my podcast equipment. Annette had an extra bag she gave me so I could carry back the souvenirs I bought.
BUT…here are the things I did that helped me pack for an 11 day trip to Italy in ONE carry-on, only using ONE outfit twice.
Overall one of the things I did better this time than ever before is PLAN!!! I started compiling my 3oz bottles of all my toiletries a few weeks ahead of time. I would go through the checklist of things I needed and ask myself 1| Is this necessary and 2| Is there any way this can be smaller (either through a similar item that’s just smaller or a different way to pack it)?
In addition to my overall strategy, here are some specifics that helped me…
1| Keep your shoe count down
Specifically for Italy (and other European cities), heels aren’t the best shoes. Which totally bums me out because I’m short and I love heels. With all the cobblestone streets, heels and even wedges can be a little dangerous.
I still wanted to look cute, so I chose my outfits based on my shoes. I bought these white Reebok shoes (my husband Mike calls them my old lady shoes but I keep telling him they’re back) that were great! My feet never hurt and we walked an average of 6-7 miles a day.
Shoes can really encroach on your packing space, so I only brought my Reeboks, flip flops, wedge (just in case but I only wore these one night) and old tennis shoes I wore on the Cinque Terre hiking trail. The tennis shoes I threw away after we hiked.
If you can wear your clunkiest shoes on the plane, that helps create more space in your carry-on.
2| Dresses are the way to go
Italians are fashionable. I didn’t want to stick out as a tourist, so I tried to make sure my outfits were at least cute. Dresses ended up to be the best bet because you didn’t need two pieces of clothing.
I looked for dresses that 1| DIDN’T WRINKLE and 2| WERE LIGHTWEIGHT (I was in Italy in June, so I knew it’d be hot). Then I used accessories to spice them up a bit – scarves, hats, layered shirts, etc. It’s amazing how a t-shirt dress can really look stylish with an accessory or two.
I brought along a denium button down shirt that I used as an accessory to tie around my waist or wear over a t-shirt dress but it also doubled as a warmer layer, if needed. Although I don’t think I got cold at all while I was in Italy (in June).
The majority of my dresses I got at Old Navy or TJ Maxx/Marshalls.
Besides dresses, skirts are also a great option. You can make them feel casual and also cute.
3| Travel-size hair dryer
With my curls, I needed to have a diffuser but that takes a lot of space. I’ve gotten a travel diffuser hair dryer before (when I went to Kenya) but it didn’t work once I got there. When I was preparing for this trip, I realized that if you bring a travel-size hair dryer overseas it needs to have DUAL VOLTAGES.
Here’s one similar to mine, but better price.
4| Mini makeup kit
I usually have a hefty makeup kit. I wanted to fit just what I needed and in a super small bag. Some of the makeup I had was pretty big, so I replaced the bigger items with as many small items as I could find.
5| Dainty Jewelry
Since I’m in the booth recording for work on a daily basis, I usually don’t wear big jewelry (always have to take it off for voiceover because it makes noise). This wasn’t that big of a change for me but I just brough a few different earrings and necklaces, so they fit in a small little jewelry box. Although, I did buy these big earrings in Forte Dei Marmi and I’ve had fun wearing them on weekends/vacation.
6| Double-duty purse
I really wanted to bring a cute purse but I needed something that would count as a “purse” on a plane but that I could 1| take with me when I was out and about in the cities and 2| fit my laptop in it.
Chose a purse that would be safe to carry around while out in the cities, plus spacious enough to fit more items. If you needed to put a couple extra items of clothing in there to free up space in your carry on, you can.
7| Collapsible Water Bottle
In Italy, there are safe public water fountains everywhere and they are the most beautiful water fountains you’ve ever seen. I knew I’d want to have a water bottle with me all the time but since I was super concerned with taking up space, I ordered this one. It’s great because you just roll it up once you’re done and it’s compact.
BONUS TIPS –
TRAVEL DETERGENT: I brought just enough underwear but there was a day I got pretty sweaty, so I changed twice. Having the travel detergent with me to quickly wash a pair was super helpful.
PORTABLE, RENTABLE WIFI: This was helpful when we were out and about and didn’t have access to good wifi. I rented one through https://www.tepwireless.com and it was super easy.
Hope these tips were helpful! Where are you going on your trip? If you’re headed to Italy, check out my podcast episodes (Apple, Google Play, Spotify, and iHeart) about my trip to Italy and my YouTube channel where you can see pictures and videos from my trip.
Have a great day & wonderful traveling!