How To Pack For Summer Vacation, Part 1: Airplanes and Travel

We just returned from a two-week family vacation to Greece (with three days in London). Each of us was allowed just one carry-on and a personal bag. We packed four family members (all different sizes), traveling for fourteen days, with only one carry-on and personal bag apiece without getting stopped at security or checking bags.

How? you ask. Here’s how we did it…

Pack three personal bags in-cabin. (Shhh, don’t tell TSA!)

Pack Two-in-One

How do you pack four people for fourteen days, with no packed luggage in completely different locales, cultures, and vibes?

In a large, zippable Victoria’s Secret PINK bag (1), I had a medium-sized sturdy cotton shopping tote (2) with all my liquids packed in a quart Ziploc bag (no more than 100 ml or 3.4 oz apiece) so I was ready at security checkpoints. Having two-in-one also helped me keep my things compartmentalized – electronics, extra blanket/jacket, makeup, headphones, snacks, water bottle). I also made sure the kids’ liquids were packed on top and readily available. (Don’t ask them how many times I checked!)

Using the shopping tote in-country for grocery runs and souvenir shopping, I utilized the zippable bag to wrangle  and consolidate my own belongings at the end of each day in each of the four locations so nothing was left behind wherever we stayed.

The Secret Sauce

My final personal item in the mix was the belt bag (3) I wore around my waist or slung across my chest. My husband and daughter both sported theirs as well. In it was my passport, iPhone with boarding passes preloaded in the Wallet app, money, credit cards, chargers, earbuds, lipstick, gum, hand balm, and hair bands all packed within easy reach. This was great for touring ancient ruins and museums, too, as it’s pretty hard to be pick-pocketed this way and I had everything immediately at my disposal.

Pack important items for inflight comfort.

sleep in heavenly peace…
  • A Washable Blanket. You can use it to keep you snuggly warm or roll it up and use as a pillow or back-support. Since I always freeze on flights and over-air-conditioned hotel rooms, this is a must for me. Plus, there was that one time on an Ethiopian mission trip that I came back with a near-fatal disease from a flea-infested blanket the guest house gave me when I was too cold. (Click HERE for my favorite cashmere throw.)
  • A Dark-Colored Lightweight Cotton Pashmina. I can cover my face in-cabin from dry air, germs, and light and my shoulders in sacred places. It can also protect me from the sun or unexpected chilly nights.
  • Sound-Cancelling Headphones. I love my Bose, but there are tons of others that work well. On our last of five flights, we had a poorly-behaved 4-year-old screamer onboard. #savedmychristianity
  • A Refillable Water Bottle. Fill it up after security and then before you leave the airport to ensure you have a source of safe drinking water for the first 24 hours in-country. See this little one by Hydroflask: HERE.
  • A Loaded iPhone. This one seems intuitively obvious, but there are so many times I have forgotten in the countdown to the last minute before leaving solid WiFi! I downloaded movies from Netflix, books on Kindle, and games (my kids got me hooked on my current favorites, and My phone also has my Bible app, so I could easily keep up with my daily reading, too, even on vacation. #noexcusesCRAFTING a good (3)

My other carry-on was a rolling suitcase.

Click HERE for carry-on dimensions and weight- yes, weight. Apparently, some international airlines are picky about their in-cabin weights. I had to repack in our London-to-Athens Aegean Air flight and transfer weight from my luggage to my son’s or pay to check my bag.



Pack all your heaviest items in the roller bag so you don’t feel like a beast of burden schlepping through airports, city streets, or up hills. This means makeup, shoes, any notebooks, belts, or whatever would weigh the most. Also, pack your heaviest items down by the wheels for optimum weight balance.

In My Opinion: The maneuverability of four rollers on the bottom of a carry-on suitcase is superior to having only two. My daughter lamented her suitcase only had two. If you’re shopping for a new bag, this should be a consideration.

What other vital, mission-critical things did I bring for vacation?

Other than my passport, I had everything I needed for two weeks. But you’ll have to wait to read the details of my capsule wardrobe choices until the next post…






CRAFTING a good (2)