Helping you discover the world & share your experience.
Login    Sign Up

10 ways to look great while traveling -- without checking a bag

  • indestructible jacket - A crushproof, all-weather jacket that goes with everything - like this one by uBu - really earns its keep. (Photo by Alisson Clark)
  • versatile boots - Any footwear that goes with jeans, dresses, skirts and pants AND can stand up to a full day of walking merits a place in your carry-on-only luggage strategy. (Photo by Alisson Clark)
by Alisson Clark
From Travel How-To
airport
August 29, 2011

When other women hear that I don’t check a bag when I fly, many say they wish they could do the same. But when they think about living out of a carry-on for a week or more, they get cold feet: They picture wearing the same pair of increasingly grubby jeans every day, or they fear being so deprived of cosmetics that they no longer resemble their passport photos and can’t clear security.

Going carry-on only isn’t for everybody, but it sure can make traveling easier: No extra fees, no lost luggage, no fumbling with baggage carts and waiting at the baggage carousel. You don’t have to sacrifice style to streamline your luggage: Here’s how to lighten your load without kicking fashion to the curb.

1.       Vary your jewelry instead of your shoes. In addition to a pair of comfortable shoes, try packing just one versatile pair of dressy shoes and inject variety with jewelry instead. You can pack a heck of a lot of jewelry in the space that additional pair of heels would take up.

2.       Prioritize your potions. Transferring beauty products into TSA-approved 3-ounce containers is the Waterloo of many a woman’s resolve to go carry-on. Instead of pulling out every cosmetic product you use in the course of a week, think about what you really need every day. I’m no backpacker -- I don’t wash my hair and brush my teeth with the same product – but I know there are some things I can do without in the short term. If you go four days without eye cream, will you really come home looking 10 years older? (If so, by all means, check a bag.)

3.       Wear your coat on the plane, no matter what the weather. Do I feel a little silly wearing a ski jacket on a flight out of Orlando? Yup, but wearing instead of packing a coat pays fashion dividends in the suitcase space it opens up. Plus, a coat makes a nice blanket or pillow during the flight.

4.       Embrace boots. Cowboy boots – or any chic, comfortable boots that you wouldn’t wear on the Appalachian Trail -- look great with jeans, pants, skirts or dresses, so they really earn the space they take up in your bag. Wear them on the plane and you’ll maximize your luggage space even more.

5.       Change up your makeup. If you’re in the habit of wearing liquid foundation, consider a pressed powder or other non-liquid base for the trip. Opting for non-liquid eyeliner, shadow and blush while traveling can open up room in your quart-sized bag for the liquids you can’t avoid packing. 

6.       Invest in a jacket that can withstand a vicious crumpling. One of the only travel garments I’ve found worthwhile is a uBu jacket I received as a sample years ago. It goes with everything from dresses to jeans, doesn’t stain, is virtually indestructible and looks great even when pulled out of the bottom of a backpack after a 10-hour flight.

7.       Opt for camis with shelf-bra lining instead of underwire bras when possible. Camis take up less room, are easier to wash if necessary and add an extra layer of warmth when needed.

8.       Stock up when you arrive. If your trip is long enough that travel sizes won’t get you through, buy drug-store items after your flight lands and toss them before you fly home.

9.       Choose your second bag carefully. In addition to the bag you stow in the overhead compartment, you’re entitled to a personal item. Maximize this bag by opting for a satchel or backpack that you can pop your purse into when it’s time to board the plane gate agents often  waylay passengers who try to board with three items.

10.     Plan for souvenirs. Another objection to going carry-on comes from gals who like to shop while they’re traveling and need suitcase room for the treasures they’ve collected. One solution is to pack an empty nylon duffel in your carry-on that you can fill with your finds and check on the way home. Alternately, fill the extra bag with dirty clothes, making room for souvies in your carry-on. Some stores will ship items to your home, but if the fee is prohibitive, consider shipping a box home yourself. You might spend some of the money you saved by not checking a bag, but you’ll still escape the anxiety of lost luggage and the tedium of waiting at the baggage carousel when you’d rather be out exploring your destination.

Share and discuss this story with your friends

Alisson Clark icon

Alisson Clark

Alisson is a freelance writer and journalism teacher based in Florida. Her first trip out of the country was to the Bahamas at age five, where she told everyone who would listen that she was from another country. No one was impressed, but the trip did leave a lasting impression of the transformative power of travel. Her writing appears in National Geographic Traveler, the Tampa Bay Times and mental_floss as well as newspapers, magazines and web sites in the U.S., Canada and Australia.



Located: Gainesville USA
Likes: outdoors, family travel, Florida, off the beaten path
Website: http://alissonclark.webs.com

More stories by Alisson Clark

Your Guide to Clearwater Beach Uncorked

Your Guide to Clearwater Beach Uncorked
With a name like Clearwater Beach Uncorked, you might expect this beachfront tasting event to be all about wine. While there are dozens of wines on offer, Uncorked is very different from a typical wine tasting. In fact, I wouldn't really call it a wine tasting. If you've been intrigued by...

The Pearl of Florida's Gulf Coast

The Pearl of Florida's Gulf Coast
We’re kicking back in a hot tub with a view of the beach, a breeze from the Gulf of Mexico rustling in the crowns of overhanging coconut palms, thinking things couldn’t get much more perfect. That’s when a bright orange butterfly flits overhead, completing the color palette of...

New Novel Samples "Sweetness" of Cape Cod, Paris

New Novel Samples "Sweetness" of Cape Cod, Paris
If your summer travel plans don't include trips to Paris and Cape Cod, Kristin Harmel's latest novel, "The Sweetness of Forgetting," may be the next best thing. The book, out Aug. 7, takes readers to both locales with the kind of detail that could only come from a writer who's...

Museum Showcases Gilded Age Opulence (Not Plants)

Museum Showcases Gilded Age Opulence (Not Plants)
While planning a girls' getaway to Tampa, Florida, I suggested to the gals that we visit the Henry B. Plant Museum , a former Gilded Age hotel restored to its 1891 glory. I was surprised, however, when the friend who shares my predilection for costume dramas and period novels sounded less than...

Outfitting a Floating Hotel on the Amazon

Outfitting a Floating Hotel on the Amazon
It's a steamy 85 degrees in the Peruvian Amazon, and as we end the afternoon's excursion and climb from the skiff back aboard the riverboat Aria, most passengers have their minds on three things: cold air-conditioning, a hot shower and the tall, cool glass of fruit juice handed to each...

Luxury Buses Let You Ride in Style

Luxury Buses Let You Ride in Style
My cruise was departing from Miami, a six-hour drive from home, and I wanted to arrive in style. So, naturally, I took the bus. Surprising? Definitely. But the proliferation of luxury bus lines has caused travelers to reconsider everything they know - or think they know - about bus...

Chillin' at Sunny San Juan's Marriott Resort

Chillin' at Sunny San Juan's Marriott Resort
We've been at the San Juan Marriott Resort for about five minutes before my son coins a new tween phrase: “I’m ROFLing in awesomeness.” I’m not 11, but I have to admit, I’m ROFLing in awesomeness too. In tweenspeak, ROFLing is usually reserved for a fit of...

Experience Cuban Culture in Florida's Ybor City

Experience Cuban Culture in Florida's Ybor City
When I mentioned to friends that I was headed to Ybor City, a historic area of Tampa, Florida, I got some puzzled looks in return. That’s because for most people, Ybor (pronounced EE-bore, but more fun than it sounds) is known as a nightclub district where college kids go to party. Not...

Exploring Florida the Geek-Chic Way: On a Segway

Exploring Florida the Geek-Chic Way: On a Segway
Cruising through the downtown streets on a Segway, you feel a lot like the nerdy kid from high school arriving at the 20-year reunion in a Porsche. Heads turn, jaws drop, and the admiration is palpable, although it’s accompanied by an undeniable whiff of geek-chic. Scoffers tend to...

Minifig Madness at Legoland Florida

Minifig Madness at Legoland Florida
Legoland Florida had just opened for the day, and we were hot on the trail of the park’s retail manager. We had reason to believe he had the much-desired mobster minifig, and if we could find him, that minifig would be ours. Trading minifigs -- those adorably top-heavy Lego figures --...

Recent Activity & Recommendations