Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide for Women

womens carry on packing list

Hey Girl!

No. We’re not here to try to sell you essential oils or shampoo. We’re here to get you all packed up and prepared for your next trip! Packing for a trip in a carry-on leaves little room for over packing.

Less is more.

Ok, raise your hand if you’re a fellow over packer. It’s not easy to narrow it down, trust me. One fellow traveler once said,

“I feel guilty when I leave some of my clothes at home. They all deserve to come with me and that’s why I over pack.”

If you resonate with that on any level, then this article is for you. Using an outfit-based packing strategy with the help of compression cubes ensures you stay organized and not overpacked. Below we outline how to use our carry-on friendly 6 piece set to organize all of your outfits to get you on the road.

The right way to pack a carry-on

Separating different articles of clothing (pants, shirts) in various packing cubes requires you to open every single cube to access your gear every time you get dressed. Instead, we recommend organizing your clothes inside of packing cubes by activity.

We’ve taken both standard carry-on sized backpacks and rolling luggage and designed a 6 piece compression cube set to fit perfectly snug in the space. Since we’ve done all of the measuring for you, all you have to do is make sure your clothes fit nicely within the compression cube set.

Bon Voyage…

designed specifically for your carry-on

not packed: outfit for the plane.

Some of the hardest things to pack in my opinion are pants. Jeans don’t always roll well, and being a tall girl, my pants end up always taking up the most space. The best way to fix this issue is to wear them on the plane! That way you don’t even have to worry about packing them because you’re already wearing them.

If you’re not comfortable wearing jeans traveling, then throw on your comfies and ditch the jeans or incorporate them into one of the cubes. To also save on space, wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane as well! This might make going through TSA a bit longer, but will definitely save you space. So slap on your booties and hit the road.

Large Compression Cube 1: Activity

packing for day trips

Our 6 pack of compression cubes come with 2 large cubes. These are 14x10x4in (like, a big laptop) but compress down 3 inches when used. The way that we recommend packing is by activity. This helps you stay free from bringing any extra “what if” clothing. Bring only what you’ll need for each activity and you’ll be set.

So what should go into the large compression cube? This one should accommodate one of your more adventurous activities. Here’s what we recommend you bring

  1. 1 pair of activity pants. Something stretchy like leggings or joggers is perfect

  2. 1-2 activity tops

  3. 1-2 pairs of socks

You never know what you’re going to run into, so bringing extras is always a good idea! You never know when you’re going to get caught in the rain or run into a waterfall. Quick drying materials are the way to go. If you’ve seen our Tripped episode of us in the caves of Vietnam, you’ll understand…

Large Compression Cube 2: Dinner ware

packing for dinner

If traveling for work purposes, this list may look a bit different. You may be doing more meetings and less adventuring and in that case, use the adventure pack for an extra work-friendly outfit! It is all dependent on what your plans for your trip are.

What we know for sure though, is that nobody likes being underdressed. Even if you’re planning an adventure filled trip, one of the best parts of visiting a new place is the food! It’s always fun to get a little more dressed up for dinners or a fun GNO.

Pick out your favorite outfit for a night out beforehand. This way you’re not bringing a few extra clothing items here in there just in case you end up not feeling your outfit once you get there. Trying on clothing beforehand is key to not over packing.

Prepare 1 - 2 dinner outfits in the 2nd large compression cube:

  1. 1 pants/shorts

  2. 2 dress shirts

  3. 1 versatile dress - think chiffon or flowy fabrics, not a cotton maxi that will add another 5lbs in your bag and take an entire cube.

  4. Accessories - only wear your nice watch at dinner? Have a necklace that you always wear with that one shirt? Throw it in the cube! No need to get all your jewelry tangled in your toiletry bag.

Depending on your style this might be a dress, skirt, or your jeans! Keeping your “going out outfit” in one spot will save you from hours of rummaging and a little less cursing when you realize you didn’t bring anything to match. Throw in a baggie with your accessories for your outfit as well! This will ensure you have something that matches and keeps everything together nicely. Remember that nights get cold so you might want to throw a sweater in there as well!

Small Compression Cube 1:  Casual

how to pack for a carry on

The 6 pack compression cube set comes with 2 smaller compression cubes that are 10x7x4in in size. This is perfect for all of your casual items.

  • 1 Tank top

  • 1 Basic T-shirt

  • 1 Neutral bra

  • 4 Underwear

  • Pajamas

  • 1 Pair of socks

  • 1 Bathing suit (if applicable)


Some outfits require certain underwear with them, I get it. Pack that pair in with your outfits in the larger cubes so that you don’t end up wearing that one pair that just doesn’t work with your dress. We’ve all been there.

This strategy of having all of your casual clothes in one place is great because you’ll be able to grab it right away when you check in to the first hotel and need a bit of netflix and chill after a day of travel.

Small Compression Cube 2: Extras

This bag is perfect for taking out of your carry-on and plopping it right into your backpack or bag. Pack your change of clothes in it for after a day at the beach or flip that and throw your bathing suit and sunscreen in it for a quick change! This is also a great bag to roll up your raincoat in if you’re unsure of what weather might be like. Toss in a few extra pairs of socks too. You really just never know!

This bag can be equivalent to the junk drawer at your home. Just don’t over-do it.

Slim Oval bag

This little bag is perfect for tossing in electronics and chargers. You can keep everything together so you’re never running around your hotel room again looking for that extra battery or headphones. It fits perfectly into the seatback pocket on the plane so everything is in reach. Save room in your carry on and keep this slim bag in your purse or personal item so that you’re not having to poke the sleeping lady next to you to go grab a charger.

Ok we also just sometimes use this for snacks. Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

Laundry Bag

Shoes. The hardest parts about traveling in a carry on. They don’t compress well and if you’re like me, you have way too many pairs. The 6 piece set of compression cubes includes a laundry bag. This laundry bag is perfect for tossing your shoes into because it keeps them separate from the rest of your clothes and it also keeps them all in one place!

how to save space while packing

Wear your largest pair of shoes you’re bringing on the plane because those take up the most room. Remember that flats and sandals can fit in the compression cubes! The slim cube will hold a pair of flip flops and the laundry bag will hold 2 pairs of flats and 1 pair of flip flops!

save time and space:

Heading to a special event like a wedding?

Toss your shoes in shower caps (steal the ones from hotels!) then pack them along with the outfit so you when you roll in on Friday for the rehearsal dinner you grab one compression cube that includes your shoes, jewelry and outfit all in one bag! Your date won’t believe you’re ready in half the time.

During your trip, you can use the bag for your dirty clothes then roll it up tight and toss it back in your carry on. You’re all set!


Final List

packing list for women carry on only


Ok so to break it down, here’s a full list of what we recommend you pack for a carry on trip:

Large compression cube 1

  • 1 outfit for the plane

  • 1 pair of activity pants

  • 1-2 activity tops

  • 1-2 pairs of socks

Large Compression Cube 2

  • 1 nice outfit for dinner or drinks

  • Accessories 

Small Compression Cube 1

  • 1 tank top

  • 1 basic T-shirt

  • 1 Neutral bra

  • 4 Underwear

  • Pajamas

  • 1 Pair of socks

  • 1 Bathing suit (if applicable)

Small Compression Cube 2

  • 1 extra pair of pants

  • 1 extra shirt

  • 1 extra underwear

  • 1 extra socks 

Slim Cube

  • electronics

  • snacks

  • lip balm

Laundry Bag

  • extra pairs of shoes


bon voyage!

Shop the carry-on set

Remember to always check the weather before your trip and make adjustments to suit your needs. Keeping to the realm of this list will ensure you don’t over pack and will have you spending less time thinking “what am I going to wear tonight” and more time enjoying the sunset :)

Don’t forget to pick up one of our 6 piece sets that have been specially designed for the carry-on compliant sized suitcases and backpacks. They come in several colors so you’re sure to find one that’s your #aesthetic.


carry on packing list for women