Daily Dose of Design: How to Pack for a Week at the Beach in One Carry-On

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How to Pack for a Week at the Beach in One Carry-On

Thank you to UpBra for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are solely my own!

Going on a last minute trip to savor summer in any way possible? I know that feeling all too well! If I had my way, summer would never leave. It's my favorite time of year and I know I'm not the only one trying to hold on to every minute of it! I took a week off to go on a (somewhat) last minute beach getaway and tried to challenge myself to packing everything for 7 days, 6 nights into a carry-on suitcase only. It didn't go so well... But now that I've tried and know what works and what doesn't, I know it is possible with lots of maneuvering and forcing myself to be a little less indecisive. ;)

It also will help to save you $$$ to not have to check a bag! It's much easier said than done but all you really need for the beach is a pair of flip flops and a cute bathing suit anyway. Hah! Here's how to pack up for a beach trip in just your carry-on:

What you need:

- Denim Shorts: to mix and match tops with. You can easily get away with bringing two pairs of denim shorts and wear one pair on the plane. Bring your favorite few pairs and then you can wear them over your bathing suit, on day trips/excursions and even dress them up a bit for dinners.

- Lightweight, Versatile Tanks: since you'll be in a bathing suit on the majority of a beach trip, bring a couple of your favorite tees and tank tops that you can wear day or night. I brought three tank tops, two dressier tops and two t-shirts. Basically, whatever you can fit into one packing cube!

- Bathing Suits: that you can mix and match with. Am I the only one that finds it so fun to see how many different bathing suit combinations you can make out of a few different tops and bottoms?! You can create 8 different suits with two tops and two bottoms, so pick the four pieces you're most comfortable in and take those. It's so easy to overpack bathing suits but if you're aiming for simplicity, picking your favorites is a must.

You guys have heard me rave about the UpBra bras before (read all about them here) and now I'm in love with their swim line too! The bikini tops are made the same way and with the same Active Lift technology that their bras are and they provide coverage, an adjustable amount of cleavage and most importantly, comfort. The bikini comes in three colors - teal, black and magenta - and can be worn with straps or without. I was so excited to try the swimwear line after loving the bras!

I'm convinced it's almost impossible to fully enjoy bathing suit shopping and/or finding something you're really comfortable in. I've been wearing both my UpBra bikini top and bottom so much and it's the perfect bikini to bring with you on a beach trip - mix and match easily and be comfortable at the same time! My favorite part about the bras and now the bikinis is that you can control how much cleavage shows and basically the fit of the top. It gives you the most perfect lift regardless of your size and the bikini bottom is just as flattering! I got the teal bikini and the color is just perfect! So beautiful and a must try/buy. You won't regret it!

- Neutral Shoes: it's fun to bring colorful and bright shoes, but it's not very practical if you're flying because heels and wedges especially can get SO heavy. I'll never forget when I was going to Europe two summers ago and I was standing at the check-in counter in JFK trying to move shoes around my suitcases to make everything fit and be under weight... SO bad, lol!! To prevent holding up a long line and looking like a fool in an airport, bring a couple of pairs of shoes that you'll be able to wear with everything!

Really, you don't need more than a pair of flip flops and one or two other pairs of shoes; wedges or heels for dinner and either a pair of sneakers or another pair of sandals - ideally you'll be wearing whatever the third pair is on the plane to not take up any extra carry-on room.

Other than these beach trip staples and aside from the obvious, pack a simple toiletry bag with a wet brush (this is my favorite hair brush that goes everywhere with me!) and some simple makeup and one or two hair products max. I use a little bit of this Pantene hair mousse just to maintain frizz and leave my hair natural and curly on summer trips - it's just so much easier and if it's hot or I'm at the beach or by the pool, it's up in a messy bun anyway. If you have to bring a heat tool, bring one that's compact and will fit neatly in your carry-on.

How to pack your carry-on efficiently:

- Roll your tops: it makes everything so much easier! I know a lot of people like to roll clothes and some think it takes up more room, but in a carry-on where space is limited as it is, rolling them up is the way to go.

- Use packing cubes: see above! ^ They are LIFE SAVERS. This is the set I use and I don't know how I ever packed before having them. They work wonders and keep everything organized but also keep you from over packing.

- Pack smaller things where ever they fit: I always put smaller things like underwear and bikini bottoms - or whatever fits really - inside shoes and inside any handbag(s) I'm packing and it helps free up space. That's where those packing cubes come in handy too, they're really a game changer!

Have you gone on a trip and packed in just a carry-on?! I'd love to know what you'd add here because for shorter trips or on a beach vacay that you don't need much more than your cute bikini and some accessories, a carry-on makes so much more sense!


  1. Great ideas! Love all of the mix and matches! Now I need you to do a 2 weeks in Europe in October post ;) !

  2. LOVE your Calpak! I have been wanting one. Also, thanks for the tips! I always struggle with packing TOO much!

  3. I need to check out packing cubes. I currently roll my clothes but if I can be even more efficient, that's great!

  4. It can be so hard! After I choose everything I keep thinking... what if I don't feel like wearing that? lol

  5. Great tips! I try to just take a carry on when I head to the beach and interchange my outfits.

  6. I’m an overpacker! I don’t think I’ve ever went anywhere with less than two bags, lol! Thanks for your great tips though!!

  7. Sometimes I tend to overpack especially I like bringing a variety of clothes with me in case I am not in the mood to wear this or that. I also like to roll up my clothes to save room. These all are great tips! ❤️

  8. I've heard good things about the Upbra swimwear! Have fun at the beach :)

    xoxo A

  9. These are great tips! I always roll my clothes and it saves SO MUCH ROOM!

  10. Awesome post girl! & This bikini looks and sounds amazing!! I've heard great reviews about them too.

    cute & little

  11. You are such a good packer.. I am not!! lol I am trying to pack for Alaska with just a carry on and i am terrible i just always want to pack so much!

  12. I like the idea of neutral shoes! Also, that bathing suit is so cute. Love the color.

  13. I almost only travel with a carry on! I only checked a bag because it was cheaper for our 2 weeks in Hawaii to check a bag than do carry ons!

  14. Super cute. Love that it the swimsuit comes in bra sizes! Makes the fit so much better and more comfortable.

  15. I had no idea about the packing cubes! I'm going on a trip over Labor Day and taking a carryon. I thought it was going to be a challenge, but you've given me some really great tips!

  16. I like your idea but no matter how much I try I still carry more than a bag, I'm afraid I might miss something or won't have that one Item that I might need.

  17. I find a beach week quite easy to pack for because most of the time I'm just in my swimsuit and they don't take up too much space! I should look into packing cubes though - they sound like they'd make packing a less stress-inducing activity!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  18. We took a four day trip to the beach recently and I packed some really cute suits then my mom unpacked them when she was looking for something and forgot to put them back... I wasn't too happy haha.

  19. I am all about versatility and reusing items when it comes to vacations! this is great!

  20. My challenge with carry-ons is always my skincare/makeup products. I'm such a product junkie it's hard to narrow it all down and find travel-size items. But you rocked this - finding all the best things to pack. That swimsuit is so cute. The color is gorgeous!

  21. omg bless this - sounds ideal but there's no way i could do it! :)

  22. You have great picks! Cute suit as well!


  23. I fit two weeks worth of clothing into a carryon this past summer!

  24. I LOVE packing cubes, they make a huge difference! I almost always end up checking a bag because i am a huge overpacker I need to be more efficient!

  25. These are great tips! Packing for summer getaways is so much easier than winter ones- bathing suits and shorts barely take up any space in a suitcase.

  26. Ooh I havent heard of this brand before! Love it!

    xo, Whitney

  27. Packing cubes are totally a game-changer. Love using those. I also didn't know that UpBra made bathing suits. I'm going going to check them out.


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