Carla de la Tour posted this question on the Facebook page for Travel with Aging Parents, “How much luggage do you take on a week-long trip, and what do you pack in your carry-on? Do you bring a separate handbag with the carry-on?”

Thanks for the question, Carla! Regardless of the length of the trip, I rarely take more than one suitcase with me. For a trip lasting a week or longer, I typically check a large suitcase, since I usually need to pack for both daytime and evening activities. If I’m seeing different people each day and night and can wear my clothes multiple times, I may be able to get away with just a smaller, carry-on suitcase. But since I have a tendency to spill on myself during meals, counting on reusing outfits can be perilous!


I use the bag on the left for longer trips or when I need multiple change of clothes. I typically use the bag on the right for trips lasting 3 – 4 days max.

I keep these two shirts laundered and ready to pack, because they work for both business events (with a pair of dress pants or a suit) and casual activities (with jeans).


No-iron shirts – yea right.


In addition, I keep a separate toiletry bag packed at all times with travel-sized containers. Using these small bottles gives me the option to bring this bag in my carry-on and not always having to place it in checked luggage.


I keep a toiletry bag packed at all times with travel size items.




To expedite getting through security, I carry all liquid toiletries in containers of 3.4 ounces or less and pack them in a quart-sized, clear, plastic zip-top bag (per the Transportation Security Administration guidelines). Keeping these items ready to go means I don’t have to scramble around for them at the last minute when packing for my trip. Here is my liquid go-bag filled with shampoo, conditioner, lotion, eye makeup remover, and hairspray.


My liquids bag – also kept packed at all times to expedite packing.

Airlines generally allow passengers to bring two items into the plane cabin with them: one carry-on bag (a small suitcase or garment bag that fits in the overhead bin) and one personal item (such as a purse or briefcase). Until recently, I used to bring both a rolling computer/office bag and a purse with me on the plane. But I’ve changed this routine and now bring just an oversized purse that holds my laptop and the items I would typically carry in my purse. If you decide to try this method yourself, I definitely recommend using a bag in any color but white, because this rascal does get really dirty really quickly!


My white canvas bag (aka purse) is large enough to pack my computer and personal items so I only need one carry-on.




In addition to my computer, I always carry the following items on the plane with me:

As with my toiletry bag, I keep a carry-on go-bag packed at all times so I just have to pull it out when I’m preparing for my next trip. In this bag, I keep the following essentials:

  • Afrin and Sudafed (the pseudoephedrine-free kind that can’t be used to make meth!)

I have serious sinus issues and always use both of these before boarding the plane to keep my ears open.

  • Emergen-C and Airborne:  In another of my pre-boarding rituals, I drink an 8-ounce bottle of water (purchased after going through security) with either Emergen-C or Airborne added. Both claim to help keep you from getting sick when traveling on a plane where the air is recirculated (as are the germs). I certainly can’t confirm the validity of these claims, but since I am slightly superstitious I use these products religiously!
  • Advil:  It’s good to be prepared if you overimbibe one evening!  🙂
  • Hand lotion
  • Toothpicks:  I have a mild obsession with keeping my teeth clean!
  • Eyedrops

My carry-on go-bag with items I need on the plane with me every time I fly.

For more tips on packing, check out my previous posts: Packing Prep (Part 1) – Medical Supplies and Packing Prep (Part 2) – Other Essentials.

I hope this information is helpful to you when you’re planning your next trip, Carla!

Do you have any packing tips that help make your trip (both the transit part and the time at your destination) more enjoyable? Please share them in the comments!