Whether I’m taking planes, trains, and automobiles through Europe for six weeks or doing a quick couple of days in the Southwest, I don’t pack more than can fit in a carry-on suitcase and a backpack (or purse). I may check a bag, but the bag is still carry-on sized. As a single person, there’s no reason for me to bring more than this. Anything more is undoubtedly over packing, and ideally I’ll even have extra room in my suitcase to stow away some snacks.
I have a few funny ways of accomplishing this, but it mostly comes down to good planning, the economy of clothes, and owning multi-purpose items. Here are a couple of methods that you may not have considered before.
No pajamas What’s up with special clothes for sleeping? Sleep in just a t-shirt and comfy bottoms that you also wear while in transit or exercising.
As few shoes as possible Typically I end up needing two pairs of shoes, but it’s pretty cumbersome to bring more than three pairs. You have to forsake a bit of variety while traveling for the sake of functionality and the weight of your luggage. Wear your heaviest/biggest shoes (usually boots) while in transit, and only bring footwear that is comfortable!
Crop tops They’re teeny tiny shirts! If it’s cold, they can be an extra layer over or under things, if it’s not, you’re nice and cool in miniature clothing. If they aren’t appropriate, disregard.
Flattering, comfy jeans If you have a good pair of jeans you’ve solved half of your traveling problems. Jeans don’t get as dirty as people seem to think, so you won’t have to worry about washing them often. You really only need one or two pairs with you, regardless of the duration of your trip. If you’re wearing crop tops, it’s handy for one pair of jeans to be high wasted.
Dress classic I like getting experimental and expressive with clothes every so often, but that’s really mood and weather contingent. When it comes to travel, you can’t really pack according to these whims. So in order to be economical with space, I recommend bringing practical, neutral items in a predetermined color palette. That way, items will be worn multiple times without much notice and without having to piece together a very specific “look” for an item.
Two bras and a swimsuit I bring a nude bra, a very flattering black racerback sports bra, and a swimsuit. This has worked very well for me, and can look good with a variety of different cuts of clothing. Your swimsuit is another set of undergarments, get creative!