You may be wondering…how did I pack all that in there? Before I tell you how to pack, let me give you a little background information. Once a year I travel to a conference for work without my family. Its the typical professional conference, 3 days/2 nights in a hotel/conference center. I’m a light packer. But after an unfortunate incident last year, I decided I could do better. Last year I went to Dallas in February and my departure coincided with a snow storm. Being in Dallas during a snow storm is unreal, especially since I am from the Midwest. When I boarded my delayed flight, they took my carry-on. Not for gate check, but to actually checked it since the plane was full. I do not check my bags. I missed my connecting flight and was not only stranded in Minneapolis over night, but I was also without my bag. It would meet me in Iowa the next day.
Fast forward 13 months…here I am, packing for another conference, determined to get everything in a personal item bag. Honestly, it was easier than I thought. You can do this too. First things first, the bag. Remember, your personal item needs to fit under the seat in front of you during the flight. I used the Thirty One Suite Success Tote. I really like this bag because there are 3 compartments, one specifically padded for a laptop.
How to pack for 3 days/2 nights, Step by Step
The picture below shows everything I packed: 2 business casual outfits, pajamas, exercise gear, under garments, laptop, chargers, toiletries, and a pair of flats. I wore jeans, trainers and a long sleeve t-shirt while traveling.
The first thing I did was separate my clothes into two piles and rolled them up. I do this for two reasons: they take up less room and you can keep your cloths from wrinkling. I can’t be trusted with an iron so I need my clothes to come our wrinkle free. You can see that I had a little helper.
I put my two rolls of clothes into the largest compartment of the bag. I also put the flats into that compartment as well. I was careful to make sure that only the clean tops of the shoes were touching the clothes.
Next, I put my makeup bag and clear bag for liquids and gels in one of the side compartments. This bag even has a small insulted zippered compartment.
I put my laptop, chargers and straightener in the laptop side compartment. Then I took a deep breath, zipped and snapped everything closed.
There you have it, everything for a 3 day/2 night work trip in one personalize carry-on bag. You may notice my kids wresting in the background. It was one of those day where they couldn’t stop fighting. My husband saw my bag and said, “That’s not fitting under the seat of a plane. It’s too big”. Take a look below. There it is nicely tucked under the seat of a region sized jet.
On my way home my connecting flight in O’Hare was delayed and the gate was switched 4 times. We didn’t even board the original plane we were supposed to leave on. I was so happy to have this ONE bag. I didn’t have to worry about my bag not making it from one plane to another. This flight was the last to Iowa of the day, so if it got cancelled I was stuck. Since I had everything in this ONE bag, I would have survived a cancellation.
So that’s how to pack for a 3 day/2 night work trip in a personal item sized carry-on. I’d love to hear if you were able to do the same. Let me know if comments.
Kim is the founder of Kids and Carry-Ons. She works as a director at a nonprofit organization. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children. Kim and her husband have always loved to travel and share their advice with anyone who will listen. Having kids didn’t stop their love of travel, it just meant they had to adapt. Follow along on their adventures.