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Thursday, August 1, 2013

How I Packed For A Month In Europe Using A Carry-On

Before I get to the good stuff... 
Click here for our Italy & Paris Trip Itinerary
Click here for my Italy and Paris Travel Tips post
When we first started packing for our European vacation I imagined taking a big suitcase and lots of fabulous clothes. Hey sometimes a girl just wants to look fashionable ya know?

Well, then we started planning our trip and I had scary visions of dragging a huge suitcase across a big Italian train station. Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that it might be a good idea to pack less, and pack even less in a carry-on.
Aeronaut c/o Tom Bihn
Enter Tom Bihn and their Aeronaut bag. This thing has incredible reviews, and if you ask me it's pretty, really good quality, meets carry-on size requirements, and somehow manages to fit a ridiculous amount of my "necessities" inside. You can wear it as a backpack or use the shoulder strap (really cushioned and comfortable!) or handles too.
Handy eh?

Anyway back to our Europe trip. During the month of August we are traveling all over Italy for about 3 weeks and then flying on Transavia (one of those "budget" European airlines that only allow 1 carry on per person) to Paris for a week. 

I knew it was going to be hot and humid which meant packing lots of light and small(er) clothing for me. I stuck with a gray, blue, and black color palette to make putting together outfits easier.

Following is a list of exactly what I packed. I used 1 large Tom Bihn packing cube, 2 small Tom Bihn packing cubes, and 1 side pocked packing cube. I kinda believe that these packing cubes are magical. They help you keep your clothing organized and make it possible to put way more stuff in your bag than you ever thought possible. 

Clothing & Accessories
Large packing cube:
- 3 tank tops (black, dark purple, gray )
- 4 T-shirts (blue, gray, black and white stripe, light grayish green)
- 3 pairs of jean shorts
- 1 short black skirt that can be dressed up or down
- 1 jean jacket

Small packing cube 1:
- 2 belts (1 brown, 1 with a fun tribal print)
- 1 flowery sun dress
- 1 light "dressier" black dress
- 1 scarf
- 2 bikinis

Small packing cube 2:
- 1 pair of workout shorts for hiking
- 2 quick dry panties (not pictured)
- 9 regular pairs of underwear (I realize this a lot, but ehh it's underwear) (not pictured)
- 2 bras (1 tan, 1 black) (not pictured)

Side packing cube:
- 1 pair of running shoes
- 1 pair of Avarcas wedge sandals (super comfortable!)

Wore on the plane:
- 1 simple black purse
- 1 pair of Rainbows
- 1 gray maxi dress
- 1 black bandeau to wear under tank tops (not pictured)

Some more detailed photos of what I packed.
Okay so I haven't ironed in uhhh.. awhile ;) 
- Travel tooth brush and tooth paste
- Travel size deodorant
- Travel size sunblock
- Travel size hairbrush
- Dental floss
-  Josie Maran travel size cleanser, moisturizer
- Allergy medicine
- Headache medicine
- Bandaids
- Benefit They're Real travel size mascara
- Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream with SPF 35 travel size

Miscellaneous Items
- My new baby a Canon SL1 DSLR
- Canon S90 point and shoot camera
- Our passports (just a little important =P)
- Cell phone
- 1 tablet
- Chargers (for the camera, phone, and tablet)
- Journal 
- Extra memory cards for the cameras
- Rick Steves Italy and Paris guidebooks
- 2 luggage locks to keep our bags secure
- 2 carabiners to keep our bags even more secure while we are on trains
- 2 money belts (maybe overkill but we heard too many crazy stories and wanted to be extra cautious =P)

Have you ever packed for a long trip with one carry on? Any suggestions are welcome :)


Treasure Tromp said...

this is the most incredible packing list/job I have ever seen. excuse my language but holy shit.

Haley @ Cupcakes and Sunshine said...

Oh wow! I'm not sure if I could do that! That's crazy! but genius! Love it!

Cara-Mia said...

Um amazing! I feel like you still got to take a lot of things! Hope you're having a great time. xoxo

Kerri Muffin said...

This just blew my mind! Great job!
Kerri at HollyMuffin

Jess said...

You are amazing gal! I can barely pack in that small of a bag for a weekend!

Have the best time!

Holly C. said...

You'll have to let us all know how it went when you guys get back! That's some pretty impressive packing!

Cece said...

Looks like you did a good job. I totally regretted having excess luggage up and and down stairs in train stations when we went to europe. You will be soooo glad you did it!

Heidi said...

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because we're going to be going on a crazy three week trip in Australia that will involve lots of travel from one place to another. I really want to do the same-- pack just carry on, but at the same time the weather and climate is going to totally differ from one place to the next. I'll probably be like you-- as time goes by my packing list will become shorter and shorter and I'll think of how happy I'll be without having to lug a suitcase!

gina said...

gotta have that rick steeve's book :). mine is in my bag too. we rarely check luggage when we travel. around the holidays it's a struggled because of heavy coats and boots but it's always worth it when you can breeze by all the fools waiting for their bags :).

Eesh said...

Wow, that's...wow!

Cute little black dress though!


Jane {In the Pink and Green} said...

I am a HUGE fan of the packing cube as well! We just packed carry-ons for our long trip to Europe a couple of years ago and the packing cubes were such a huge help. Also, packing for a vacation in the summer is SO much better than in the winter because coats/boots take up so much space, which is annoying. Everything you brought looks so cute, so I can't wait to see all your photos when you get back! I know you'll look adorable as always! xoxo

Amanda said...

I live in Europe now but when I first traveled through it I had a money belt as well...which I never used. There's only 1 city I can think of that I'd really bring it out for and I don't think you're headed there! Some cathedrals and famous chapels in Italy and France have a dress code (no bare shoulders, legs etc) so it helps to plan out what you're wearing based on where you are going ahead of time! xx

Amira said...

This blows my mind! I am fascinated :-)

Justina L said...


Getting myself this for backpacking next year!!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Wow! I'm going to have to invest in one of these bags!!

B Dav said...

I am definitely picking that up for my next extended vaca!

Britt @ One&20
Wednesday Workout Link-Up!

Emily @ Emmy June said...


I'm super impressed ;)


Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops} said...

I love packing light! It makes life so much easier. A few years ago I went to NYC, DC, and Israel. I was gone for 2 weeks and I packed in a carry-on (granted, the carry-ons were a bit bigger back then!). I had to have winter stuff, desert stuff, swimming stuff, hiking stuff, toiletries stuff, etc. I had to sacrifice a few things, but it was well worth it when everyone around me had large piles of bags and I had a backpack and a carry on.

I'm planning a trip to Tokyo and the US (I live in China) in 2 months, and I have to bring a large behemoth. I'm dreading it!

Anonymous said...

Great post on packing! We're going to Jamaica for a week and my wife doesn't believe we can pack for a week in a carry-on. I have to keep reminding her we're going on a beachy honeymoon! Now, I have proof that we could actually pack for a month! HA! Have fun!

I also can't wait to hear about your adventures! We're headed to Italy and then Paris next year - so I can't wait to see what you think!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

I am soooo impressed! I could never do that!!!

Jessica L said...

I'm amazed! I need to have this. I hate waiting in line for bags or having to drag big suitcases around with me! -Jess L

Tony said...

I have the Aeronaut too, and have taken it a bunch of places. But I also want to carry a fairly large laptop, binder full of papers, maybe an extra pair of shoes, a coat for cooler climes, so my solution was to take a Rick Steves backpack for the above, plus clothes in the Aeronaut. Except I have only one back, and one of the bags had to be hand carried. So I switched from Aeronaut to a Rick Steves bag that is pretty darn small, but also has wheels. So I can carry it on and off trains as needed, wheel it in airports and smoother sidewalks, and keep the back pack, too. Not as extreme a solution as yours, but it works for me.

Eric Holford said...

That's certainly the way to do it :) one small thing though, when you pack items in the cubes, don't roll them individually as it wastes a surprising amount of space by creating lots of cylindrical, incongruous shapes. Laying everything flat and right in to the corners of the cubes works much better. Always think 'flat and square' rather than round.

Fat Crip

Elyssa said...

Now I can see why you love those bags so much! Great post! Would love together and hear about your trip!

Anonymous said...

How exactly did you pack your DSLR? I'm going to Norway in March and will be going to at least 4 different cities. I've been researching the best ways to transport and day to day use.


Judy Cheong said...

This is fantastic! Though I don't think it'll survive a winter month-long trip. Great for a summer one!

teri burrill said...

I went to Europe with 2 bags and came back with one. I am taking 2 scarves on my next trip. The wide long kind. I found that not only do they make great accessories but I also used it as a shawl, a blanket, and a pillow. They are very veritle! Also looks like you packed cotton - clothes. Stuff that's easy to roll and doesn't wrinkle too bad is the best. The only other thing I would bring is a reusable water bottle. I saved quite a bit of money over my 6 mo. travels by filling up at the hostel instead to spending 1-3 euros on bottled water all the time!

Kelly Gunn said...

Any chance you are interested in selling your Tom Bihn bag? I love it and definitely need one for Europe this summer, but they are so expensive!

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hey Kelly,
Aww unfortunately not. I still use my bag for every single short weekend trip I take and know I'll continue to use it in the future.
Good luck though! If you are able to save up for it I know you will love it. :)

Bailey Carver said...

what color did you get?

Raina Shannon said...

How well did you meet the airlines' weight requirements? I had a few nightmare fees on (especially) budget airlines just for being one or two kilos over the carry-on limit. Not all airlines (not every airport either. I found this happened to me at random) weigh carry-ons, but when they do... Thank you for the luggage inspiration!

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

I have the aubergine with wasabi liner and my fiance has the steel with wasabi liner. The quality of the bags is out of this world!

We had no problems with the larger airlines weight limits. I was really nervous about being over Transavia's weight limit. We flew out of Venice and our bags were actually over the weight limit, but the attendant who checked us in didn't even weigh our bags. I guess we just got lucky. Happy Travels!

Miss Morgan said...

Your packing skills just blew my mind! I will be doing this same thing in September but starting to doubt myself that I can actually do it all in a carry on. Quick question: how comfortable were your gold sandals? I'm debating ordering them so I have a non tennis shoe option.

Oh and the packing cubes... currently in my Amazon basket. Can't wait to get them!

Thanks for the tips!

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hey Morgan :)
Thanks for your sweet words. You can TOTALLY do a carryon and you will be sooo happy about it when you're in Europe carrying all your stuff around!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Avarcas I seriously have them in multiple colors. Here's the link to the exact pair I have: http://www.avarcasusa.com/bin/details.php?Tag=Wedge%20Metallic&Color=Pewter&Price=89.00&Model=2021A&Description=Our%20wedge%20avarca,%20with%20approximately%201%201/2%20in%20(4.5%20cm)%20heel,%20preserves%20the%20appearance%20of%20the%20traditional%20avarca,%20suitable%20for%20women%20that%20look%20for%20comfort%20without%20compromising%20a%20style.%20Handmade%20in%20Spain%20with%20top%20quality%20materials,%20this%20chic%20sandal%20has%20become%20a%20must%20have%20fashion%20accessory%20in%20Spain%20and%20throughout%20Europe.&Platform=Wedge%20heel&Leather=Arizona&SizeList=34%20(%20US%204%20),35%20(%20US%205%20),36%20(%20US%206%20),37%20(%20US%207%20),38%20(%20US%208%20),39%20(%20US%209%20),40%20(%20US%2010%20),41%20(%20US%2011%20)&StockList=9,14,7,6,10,19,8,7&OutOfStock=0&ProductIdList=496,395,396,397,398,399,400,401&Collection=w

I actually just wore them for an entire day at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival too. :)

Happy Travels :)

Katherine Yoon said...

I'm so happy I found your post! I'm going through a similar thought process in trying to plan for my upcoming trip to Europe. Fashion vs Practical. I've been eyeing the Aeronaut but really wanted advice from a girlie girl that's packed and lived out of it for a month in Europe. How did you find the weight to be? Was the weight doable??

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hey Katherine,
So happy you found my post too! :)

Yes, the weight is TOTALLY do-able. We schleped our Aeronauts through crowded train stations and across airports and I was just fine. Sure, if we were in a line I would take the bag off and stretch out a bit but I was pretty comfortable for the most part.
Also, we did have the removable waist straps and sternum straps that I think really helped distribute the weight of our bags. I would definitely recommend those as well :)

Happy Travels!

Anonymous said...

This is so incredibly helpful!! Thank you SO much for all of this insight. I am going abroad for a semester in the fall and I was worried about all the same security measures you were worried about! (big suitcases in airports, train stations, etc.) I stumbled across this article via Pinterest, but now realized that you are from San Diego! I go to college at the University of San Diego and can't wait to check out some of your San Diego posts!!

Jackie Fedor said...

Hello! I really want to buy this bag. even though it is really expensive it seems like it will be worth it. are the packing cubes come separately? Is the backpack straps comfortable? I am going to 3 countries for 3 weeks and this bag seems like the perfect thing for my trip. I really just want a carry on that will fit all my needs! is it a lifetime warranty? thanks,


Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hi Jackie,
I think the bag is really really worth it. I found it to be very comfortable and compact. The packing cubes come separately, but they are worth every single cent. I was able to pack so much because of the packing cubes.:)

I'm not sure about the lifetime warranty but I'm sure you can contact the company and find out.

Happy Travels!

Anonymous said...

OMG, this is amazing and inspiring. Girl, one carry on bag and a month in Europe?! That's awesome! Definitely pinning this and will try it out on my next int'l trip. Wonder how it would work in the winter (big coats, more clothes, etc.). Thanks for sharing!!

teriq said...

Hi, I really love this post. One thing keeps me wondering, though- no pants or sweaters? I know it was summer but summer nights can still get cold (I am from Europe).

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hi Teri,
You do bring up a good point. :) In the summer, Italy was way too hot and humid to wear pants. Paris was really warm while we were there. One night it was a little chilly at night, and I wore my maxi dress to keep me warm. The other nights were quite warm, but I'm not sure if we lucked out with weather while in Paris.
If it had been in fact cooler while we were in Paris, I would have stopped into a boutique and picked up a pair of jeans. :)

EEdgerton said...


This blog is amazing. Thank you so much!

You didn't mention taking electrical outlet convertors. Did you take them/need them? Any particular recommendations?

Aryiel Astolfi said...

Hi Tammy!
This has been incredibly helpful, and what an impressive packing job!
I am currently planning a rather long trip to Europe and was considering the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30, but my main concern was the lack of support since it does't have a frame or substantial hip belt. Otherwise it seems perfect! sigh. Was it uncomfortable or painful to wear as a backpack for you?

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hey Ariyel :)
I definitely hear your concerns. I do have the additional chest strap and that seemed to help distribute the backpack's weight. Also I never wore the bag for more than an hour at a time but found it pretty comfortable. I've also used it on many shorter trips since my Europe trip. It's held up really really well.

Good luck and happy travels!

lovinghate said...

This is Amazing! I am moving to Brazil for 9 months and I am definitely going to look into getting one of these bags! It would help so much to pack all of that in my carry on!! Great Post!!!

Alexandra Bansal said...

Hi Tammy,

Love the post!! Just a couple questions

1) Is your bag the Aeronaut 45 or 30?

2) How did you pack your SL1? Was it in your Aeronaut? If so, how did you keep it safe.


Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hey Alexandra,
Thank you so much! :) I have the Aeronaut 45 and it's awesome. If you decide to go with it you will not regret it one bit.

When traveling, I packed my SL1 in between the packing cubes in my Aeronaut. That method worked really well. :)

Happy travels

Anonymous said...

Hi, I noticed that you didn't pack any hair styling tools. Do you ever bring a a blow dryer or curling iron? Would they fit in the bag?

Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hi Jessa,
You're right, I don't typically pack a curling iron or hair dryer on trips. I'm a low hair maintenance kinda girl and usually let my hair air dry.
That said, I have seen travel sized hair dryers that fold up and would fit inside the bag.

Happy Traveling :)

Amy said...

i am getting the same bag for my brother and myself for our 10 day trek through ireland and scotland! SO PUMPED and i've been so "concerned" with what all to pack, how to fit it in, and dang air lingus strict bag size guidelines! haha

themattestandard said...

Hi Tammy, I'm using your packing list for my month-long trip to Europe, it's genius! I'll be in Poland, Prague, Scotland, Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona, leaving in a couple weeks so it'll be summer and am wondering what you slept in? Did you pack any sleeping clothes?


themattestandard said...

Hi Tammy!

I'm going to be using your list for my trip to Europe and I was wondering, what did you sleep in? Did you pack any sleeping clothes or did you just wear t-shirts and stuff?



Tammy @ Lemons, Avocados and the Bay said...

Hi Brianne,
Aww it feels good to know that people are using my list. :) Awesome!

I brought a comfortable cotton nightie thing (ha for like of a better word?) from Target to sleep in. I also occasionally stole a Tshirt from my husband to sleep in too.

Hope you have an incredible trip :)

Jennifer Bobiwash said...

How do you use the carabiners?

Andrea Enrri said...

This backpack is amazing! I just love it!!! Thank you so much for sharing. All the best from Argentina!


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