Hiking in the outback is about as far from a New York City holiday as an apple is from a pink martini. So, how to pack a carry on for a weekend in the big city is clearly different. Pack conscientiously with outfits that can go anywhere. You can fit everything you need in a carry on travel bag--if you pack as smart as you dress.
You will need shoes right for trekking all day, but hiking shoes are different for a concrete jungle. Whether Rome or NYC, you will be walking and standing a lot on hard floors. You don't want your bag to weigh you down any more than painful feet would.
Tally: 2 Pairs of shoes (and maybe a foldable third--but that doesn't count).
A pair of dark, well-fit jeans can easily be dressed up with heels and your favorite bangles. You don't need to bring denim for every day. Simply bring one or two pairs of jeans that can go anywhere. Don't choose jeans that are too tight to be comfortable. And, avoid capri cuts since they are generally more daytime.
Tally: 2 Pairs of Jeans
We love bottoms, but your bag doesn't. In addition to a pair of anywhere jeans, pack a pair of versatile black pants and/or a beige or light pair. You can also choose skirts, weather permitting. Fold them lengthwise with a strong seam and roll them tightly to save space.
A perfect day-to-night dress can cut down on the clothing clutter. Replace a skirt and blouse with a single comfy dress like:
A lot of dresses can transform to casually cute with sandals or flats to flirty friendly with heels and a little lipstick.
Tally: 1-2 Pants/skirts or 1-2 pants and a dress. That's 2-3 total!
When it comes to packing, you are tops. You keep your shirts to a minimum and love to layer.
Just like jeans, a simple top can transform with a few accessories or swept up hair. Keep your fluffy stuff home. Opt for simple, easy-to-coordinate tee shirts or blouses that don't wrinkle. You only need a couple--and maybe one nicer blouse if you have an event planned. Count on accessories instead of countless outfits.
That adds up to 2-3 tops. If it's cold, you may want to add a couple for layers.
You should be able to bring a layer in your handbag or backpack everywhere you go.
You know that a big coat is a burden. So, unless it's wintertime, you should layer in style instead of bringing a bulky coat. If you do decide to bring a coat, keep to the same rules for coats as you should for travelling bags, only bring one.
Tally: 2-4 tops.
Jackets and coats, like bubble coats or packable down coats, that can be squished into a bigger bag are a worthwhile investment. Bonus points if it has a hood.
Your travel gear should strive to multitask and miniaturize. Check the amenities at your destination to eliminate the need to lug around hair dryers. Don't bring anything you have to iron. Try and keep it down to one toiletry bag and one bag of makeup essentials. If you love product, just stick to sample sizes.
Tally: 2 pouches
You don't need maps, but you do need to avoid getting lost. Be sure to upload public transportation information to your phone or note help sites.
If you're expecting bad weather, be sure to pack a travel umbrella and extra socks. If you are at a hotel, many 3-star and up hotels carry loaner umbrellas to keep you from getting soaked through.
Tally: This counts for one more pouch (for cords) and a maybe 6-8 small units.
The final tally: you can get everything you need for a long weekend or overnight in a city in a single carry-on. That's about 20 items total. It's the perfect amount for a carefully packed weekender bag, large duffel, or carry on suitcase (for those who can't do without a little more). Throw your things in the trunk or shuffle on board with everything on hand.
Carry on travel backpacks or totes are perfect places for laptops, in-flight comforts and entertainment. If you are going to be heavily relying on public transportation or want some extra security, choose a travel lock bag for the overhead bins on trains and planes.
Finally, be careful to bring the right handbag for any urban expedition.
Purses for travel should:
Having an organizer purse or wallet with a chain means not taking your wallet off your person to get money. That means pickpockets and purse snatchers can't catch you in vulnerable moments.