Pack Like a Pro – Carry on Only


So, you’re packing for a trip and you prefer the freedom that packing lightly allows.

I believe that there are definitely times when checked in luggage is necessary. However, there are also times when carry-on baggage is not only enough, but can be to your benefit.

If at all possible, traveling with a carry-on is the way that I prefer to travel. In fact, when I begin to plan a trip, my first objective is to determine whether or not I can manage with merely my duffel bag. The two biggest reasons that I prefer to travel lightly is because I usually travel through an economy friendly airlines like Spirit. If you have ever booked through Spirit Airlines, you know that in order to keep their flights so cheap, they do charge an additional fee for checked in  luggage or extra carry-on luggage. Not only is it cheaper to travel this way but it also saves  time. Any experienced traveler will tell you horror stories about waiting at the luggage carousal  for their bags to appear. There is also the horror of realizing that your bags have been thoroughly gone through by airline security (or un authorized employees.) I can’t tell you how many times that I have had items “lost” this way (never put anything of value in your checked in luggage) and I have actually acquired a stranger’s make-up this way. I’m sure that passenger was not too happy. On my last trip my brand-new luggage was permanently damaged.

I have attached a free printable checklist. It may not contain everything that you need but it will give you a good starting point.  I followed with a list of a few travel tips. Any links to websites are highlighted for your convenience.


  • Two small packs of Tylenol
  • Contacts / Case
  • Contact Solution
  • Sunscreen


  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Brush
  • Make-up
  • Face Wash
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Pony Tails / Bobby Pins


  • Camera
  • Camera Charger
  • Phone Charger
  • Disks
  • Camera Battery
  • Snorkel Gear


  • Sandals
  • 2 pr. Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Two T-shirts
  • Two Pair Jean Shorts
  • One Pr. Comfy Shorts
  • Four Tank Tops
  • Extra Bra
  • Two Sundresses/Skirts
  • Two Bathing Suits
  • One Bathing Cover Up


  • Passport and a copy of passport
  • License and a copy of my license
  • Plane Tickets
  • Maps
  • Airport Transfer / Rental Car Confirmation
  • Hotel Reservation
  • Parent Permission Form
  • FMM Paper



My duffle bag (carry-on) is the largest allowed size for carry-on by Spirit, which is  22x18x10. I do carry my purse with me which doubles as a beach bag and I can put this into my carry-on right before boarding the plane. Before I put it in overhead storage, I pull my purse back out so I have easy access to my paperwork.


Most hotels and air bnb’s provide shampoo and conditioner, if not you can either buy travel friendly sizes (3.4 ounces or less) or fill containers like the plastic container like I use for sunscreen and hair gel. In fact, any liquid that I want to take is transported in this way. You can take one quart size bag full of liquids if they are transported in the allowed size. In this quart size bag I also store my travel size tooth paste and deodorant.


I lay my clothes on top of each other than roll them and secure the roll with rubber bands. This will allow you to fit in as much as possible. My skirts and dresses are all iron free fabric.

Airports are cold! I don’t care if you are in the north or the tropics. I always wear a light jacket or sweater to the airport. If you don’t need it on the plane you can always roll it and use it to rest your head.

Sometimes I am also able to include a beach towel. I simply wrap it around my bundeled up clothes.

Ironing Hack: 

If you have  items that will need ironing hang them up in the bathroom and the steam from your shower will steam the wrinkles out.

I wear Tennis shoes as they take up additional space in the bag. It may mean that you have to take them off at security but this has never been a problem, slip them off and then right back on again.

I make copies of my passport and drivers license and I keep that with me at all times. The originals I keep in the safe that most hotels, air bnb’s offer.

If staying at an Air bnb there are usually laundry facilities. If so this can mean packing even fewer clothes.

We usually travel to the Caribbean which is very casual and flip-flops are adequate for whatever our dining needs are. If you feel you need a pair of dressier sandals there should be plenty of room. You may not need tennis shoes. My trips usually include the need for tennis shoes because we like to go on adventurous outings and hikes. If climbing pyramids is on your agenda, you will need tennis shoes.

Phone Hack: 

If you forget your adapter for your charger, most TV’s have a spoy in the back to plug in your charger.


I make copies of my passport and driverse license and I keep it with me or in my rantal car at all times. The originals I keep in the safe that most hotels and Air bnb’s offer.

Your phone is great for a GPS however, we love to travel way off the beaten path and we have found many times that our phones lose service for hours at a time. In these cases we have had to rely on old fasioned maps.

Always keep your rental car information in the rental car gove box itself. Hopefully in the near future I will do a blog on driving safely in the Yucatan Penninsula and Grand Bahamas.

If you are traveling with minor children without both parents present: I can not stress this enough…. You must have a permission slip signed from the other parent and notarized giving permission for you to take that child/ren out of the country. I have traveled out of the country with minor children ( without my spouse) on numerous occasions. I have only needed this documentaion one time. Had I not had it, I would not have been able to board the plane with my son! Our whole trip would have been ruined. It is at the mercy of either government to deny you passage or entrance without this form. A link is provided above.


Immagration form. Most airports pass one out to each passenger on the plane twenty minutes before you land. Since I travel with children, I have found this stressfull to fill out and quite frankly many airlines are known to “run out.” It is so easy to go to this website, (link provided above under documents check list) fill it out on line and print off. If you are stuck filling it out at the airport this can delay going through customs and picking up of your luggage. Last trip the airlines ran out (again) since mine was already filled out we were first in line through customs while the others scrambled to fill them out. It simply makes life easier. Do not forget to keep the half that they tear off and return. We keep it right in our passport book. If you should happen to lose it- good luck-  I’m only half kidding. If you do lose it you’ll need to arrive for your outgoing flight early, pay a penalty and fill out another form.

I truly hope I have encouraged you to travel with carry-on only. It can truly minimize travel stress. If you love to travel this way too and have more tips or advice, please leave a comment below. Most of my travels have been to caribbean locations (we love heat). This does make packing easier because clothing is much smaller and no parka is required!


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