How to Pack in a Carry On for a Winter Trip to Europe

You asked, I’m answering!! As a lot of you know, Daniel and I recently visited my brother in London for a week and we each packed in just one carry on bag and a backpack. I’ve had a bunch of you guys reach out to me on social media and in person asking about how we did that for a winter trip. And it’s true, it is so much easier to pack lighter in the summer because the clothes are thinner, smaller, and you don’t need as many layers. It was certainly challenging to plan how I would get all my sweaters, boots, jeans, and everything else in just one small bag!

Honestly, I can’t speak for Daniel on this because it seems like all he needs is one T-shirt, one pair of socks, and his Chelsea FC hat to live for a week in London. So all my tips for you will be from my female perspective who needs a lot more than that to live!

I’ll be sharing a few of the essential items that help me pack well and some general tips or things to think about when packing!

Packing Cubes

I love packing cubes! I got some on Amazon back in 2016 when I was planning my time abroad in Spain. Unfortunately, the exact ones I purchased are no longer available, but all the ones on that link are basically the same and will give you the same result. The ones I bought then are still the ones I use today. There is nothing fancy about them, but they help me stay organized and cram a bunch more stuff into my suitcase! I especially love them because as the trip goes on, I can dedicate one cube to all my dirty clothes, that way I know exactly how many things I have left to wear. Plus it just keeps my suitcase soooooo much more organized rather than it being a huge pile of grossness when I pack up to head home.


Think Neutral

Try to pack things that all go with each other. I own lots of white, grey, black, and light blue so I typically pack all items that are those colors. If you only pack items that can be worn together, you don’t have to stress when you’re on vacation! Since this trip was in the winter, I brought one pair of black jeans and one pair of dark blue jeans. Unfortunately, my black jeans (my favorite black jeans) tore while on the trip, so those didn’t come back with me. That’s just another reason to always pack two pairs of pants!


The 4 to 1 Ratio

When I’m packing, I try to always pack 4 tops per 1 pair of bottoms. I only brought pants this time because it was going to be cold in London, but in the summer it could be shorts, a skirt, etc. If your trip is shorter than a week, then you can decrease this ratio. Typically I don’t go on overseas trips for less than 7 days, so this 4 to 1 thing is really helpful! I also pack at least one dress per trip, more if the trip is in the summer.  Generally, I am more of a pants/shorts with a cute top girl than dresses, but I know some people prefer dresses so you have to adjust this ratio for yourself and figure out what fits your personal style!


Essential Toiletries

Only bring the essential toiletries that you can’t buy there. I have a specific face wash and moisturizer that I use every day so I always bring that with me. Also, I usually bring my toothbrush, toothpaste, and makeup remover. All the other stuff I buy when I’m there! As far as makeup goes, I also stick to the essentials. If it’s a product I use every time I do my makeup, I bring it. If it’s not, I don’t. I pack one concealer, one foundation (usually a sample sized one), 2 shades of eye shadow, one eyeliner, one mascara, one bronzer, and a powder foundation that can double as powder concealer. Then I bring a few brushes, but try to limit those to the essentials as well.


Wear Your Biggest Items

This is one that lots of people recommended to me too! I wore my chunkiest sweater, Bean Boots, and coat on the plane. It makes traveling a little bit more annoying, especially in security, but is worth it. Planes are almost always cold too so wearing my biggest sweater helped keep me nice and warm for the flight.


That’s it! Those are all my tricks to pack for a winter trip to Europe in a carry-on. I hope this was helpful and that maybe the tips I gave you will help make packing for your next vacation a little easier. I also want to hear from you! Do you have any advice for consolidated packing? Drop it in the comments below so we can all learn from one another!

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