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Travel Confident, Travel Light: Creating a Carry-On Packing List

diy traveler packing tips
Whenever possible, I try and pack a carry-on bag for traveling.

Make the most of your carry-on luggage with these minimalist packing tips. Image by Jill Robinson.

For many of us Go Girl travelers, we’re in the midst of holiday and winter adventures. Fun travel plans, however, mean lots of packing, luggage restrictions, and security lines. Fortunately, after much trial and error, I’ve figured out how to make the perfect carry-on luggage packing list for most travels by tapping into my DIY mentality.

I have an intense obsession with minimalistic packing. I will do anything in my power to pack a carry-on piece of luggage to avoid the possibility of an airline losing my precious, second-hand clothing or having to wait 15 minutes at baggage claim.

If you are like me and would rather make room for a ridiculous amount of chunky bracelets instead of a bunch of products, read on for a few packing tips. 

Strategize Your Packing Needs:

The trick to making sure you don’t feel like you have skimped on your health and beauty products while traveling, is to ask yourself two questions:

1. Is this product a luxury or a necessity?
2. Is there more than one way I can use this item?

If you aren’t flying, you will have more flexibility on your liquid allotment. No matter the type of transportation, understanding your most important needs will also leave space for a few more fun items.

For me, my skin is numero uno in packing considerations. If my skin is irritated and itching, I’m not a happy or confident camper. For others, the priority might be hair and make-up or even vitamins and meds.

The point is, if what I’ve packed doesn’t make me feel good (physically and mentally) about myself, then I’m compromising my travel experience. This packing list might make sense for me, but every traveler has different needs to consider.

My Go-To Carry-On Luggage Packing List:

Once you have a grasp on what products you need to pack, the fun begins. Liquids are the big challenge for me when I’m flying. Since my focus is on moisturizing and I geek out on essential oils to keep me healthy while abroad, I need to get creative. I’m also a supporter of the no-poo method and wash my hair about once or twice a week, so if I’m traveling for a week or less, I don’t pack shampoo.

The key is finding products that are multi-purpose in their function.

DIY Travel packing list
Photo by Jill Robinson.

Here’s how I packed a carry-on for my recent travels to Spain:

1. Cutting up all-natural, moisturizing bars of soap helped me save space.
2. Oregano oil is my best friend for staying healthy in so many ways.
3. Jojoba oil works as a moisturizer, eye make-up remover, frizzy hair tamer, and carrier for my packed essential oils.
4. Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and thieves can double as immune boosters, perfumes, deodorants, and antibacterial. Depending on my needs, I’ve substituted others like eucalyptus, orange, and tea tree oil. Make sure to research their potency. Here is another great resource on how to use oils safely.
5. This homemade batch of foundation also serves as sunscreen and a face moisturizer.
6. Tooth powder isn’t for everyone. I can’t say I look forward to using it on a regular basis, but if I need to cut out a liquid product, it does the job.

This is a pretty bare-bones list of items, and it will slightly vary depending on my destination, weather conditions, and planned activities. I can usually find any extra items I need upon arrival if I realize that I skimped a bit too much.

The added bonus of this practice in intentional packing is that I have thinned out my collection of bath, beauty, and health products at home. I’m not only saving space, but also saving money for my next travel adventure!

What are your carry-on packing tips that save space without compromising how you feel? Comment below!

Jill Robinson
Blogger Jill booked a one-way ticket to Scotland on a work visa after graduation and has suffered from wanderlust ever since. In Edinburgh and York, England she learned to pour a proper pint of beer, and in Costa Rica she learned to surf and drive ATVs through a jungle at dangerous speeds. Her most recent trips included a solo-backpacking excursion through Spain and a surreal week in Guatemala. While Chicago was home for the past 12 years, Jill is now enjoying her next adventure in Brighton, England and testing out the digital nomad lifestyle while enjoying Sunday Roasts and cask ales. When she’s not traveling, she is hoarding jars for all her DIY home remedies and herbal concoctions.

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