Carry-On Packing (on a Budget)!

In the June 2011 edition of Lucky Magazine, there is a story on packing a carry-on bag for a week-long trip to almost anywhere from Stockholm to Sardinia. While I loved the article, since I’m a huge advocate of packing in a carry-on, I was disappointed by the price point of the items that were chosen. Often Lucky has great advice on where to get cute pieces for less, but this article was filled many with expensive clothing items. With pricey airfare and travel costs, who can afford to fill their suitcase with a bikini that costs $585?

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As I’ve mentioned in Pack Like an Expert, when I travel I try my best to find versatile pieces from stores like H&M, Old Navy, and Forever 21. From these different pieces, I am able to create several different outfits to wear throughout my given time wherever I may be visiting. These stores carry affordable and classic pieces, that are also easy to wash in your hotel sink and re-wear at another time. This is the best way to maximize your travel wardrobe, yet stick with a small piece of luggage. The best part of buying cheap clothes for your trip? Getting rid of them! My travel buddy, Lara, and I love to dispose of our travel attire at the end of a trip to make room for everything else we’ve collected along the way.

This summer, I will be headed to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for three and a half weeks. I plan on taking my carry-on yet again, since I will be traveling alone and meeting my friends in Bangkok. Most of what I will bring will include plain cotton t-shirts and tanks, maxi skirts and dresses, leggings or long cotton pants, and tunics. Tunics, like the ones shown below from H&M and Old Navy, can be paired with the leggings and harem pants, as well as the maxi skirts, which helps with their versatility. They also cover my shoulders, but are lightweight and airy, which will be useful since it will be warm and rainy while I’m visiting.

As far as shoes go, I usually pack three pairs at most: a pair of heels/wedges, sandals, and something comfortable for walking. I don’t usually wear sneakers, mostly because I don’t like the way they look with my outfits. In New Zealand, I lived in Sperry boat shoes, and for my trip to Southeast Asia, I am going to pick up a pair of TOMS ‘Classic’ Slip-ons. Not only do are these shoes comfortable, but I love the concept of One for One; for every pair you buy, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. What could be better?

For bags, I love Delsey for my suitcase. It’s durable and pretty reasonable price wise. I got my bag for $98 on sale at Macy’s. I use it every time I travel, so I wouldn’t have even minded spending $300 for it. I would use the H&M woven bag, as my pocketbook while traveling since I could easily fit a book, magazine, and snacks inside, and then it’s the perfect size for a bag to bring to the beach once I’ve arrived at my destination. Finally, for site-seeing and going out to the bars, I love nothing more than a cross-body bag. There’s no need to worry about pickpocketing when your bag is close by your side.

I also always travel with a pair of oversize sunglasses and wide-brim hat to shield my skin from the sun. A scarf is also handy for many reasons. It’s great to use as a blanket in the airport, or on the chilly plane, and then later you can also cover your shoulders in a temple or mosque. Finally, you can turn yourself into Jackie O instantly by using it around your head while by the beach. It’s the one item that I make sure not to forget.

Below I’ve complied several items from Old Navy, H&M, and Forever 21 that would be my first picks for traveling. These are based on my July vacation to Southeast Asia, but it can also give you a basic idea of how to pack in a carry-on at a low cost.

Forever21 tribal dress
$30 –

Old Navy smock top
$30 –

H M three quarter sleeve top
20 GBP –

H M lace top
15 GBP –

H M top
7.99 GBP –

H M top
2.99 GBP –

H M racer back top
4.99 GBP –

Old navy skirt
$30 –

Old Navy bikini bathing suit
$23 –

H M cotton skirt
20 GBP –

Old Navy ruffle bathing suit
$20 –

H&M hemming pants
15 GBP –

Old Navy stretch legging
$10 –

Forever21 flat shoes
$11 –

Delsey nylon bag
$280 –

H M zip bag
25 GBP –

Forever21 boho handbag
$20 –

Forever21 bracelet
$7.80 –

H M wide brim hat
7.99 GBP –

Forever21 fringe scarve
$5.50 –

H m sunglass
4.99 GBP –


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