It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for — how I packed for 10 days in Europe in a carryon suitcase! We traveled throughout Spain and France in mid-late September, and I packed efficiently (not my strong suit). Fortunately, the climate and weather was consistent throughout our trip, which definitely helped my cause. I knew I wanted outfits that spoke to the destination, rather than just packing what I’d normally wear at home, and, while I’ve kind of rolled my eyes previously at certain bloggers who make huge hubbubs over dressing for the location, I get it now.
Note: I’ve previously written posts on packing for both a week in Ireland and 12 days in California.
Why I Packed for 10 Days in Europe in a Carryon Suitcase
With five destinations originally on our itinerary (we did cut one while we were there), I knew there would be lots of moving around and presumably small hotel rooms. I didn’t want to risk the epic baggage claim lines we’ve all seen online. And I certainly didn’t want to deal with lost luggage. So packing for 10 days in Europe in a carryon made the most sense.
The Packing Accoutrements
I have an old suitcase I believe I picked up at T.J. Maxx before a work trip back in 2017 (it’s always been work trips that have motivated me to “upgrade” my luggage). I need to get a nicer suitcase at some point, it’s just always the lowest item on my to-do list, especially when ours get unceremoniously stashed at the very back of our storage closet.
But I do have two items that helped me pack.
First up, packing cubes are a divisive topic. However, I do think they help organize my suitcase, though I’d say they’re more effective in a duffel bag than a suitcase, simply because of their shape. I used three on this trip, and sorted them by item type. I know some people prefer to do by day. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
Second, finally buying a toiletry kit with compartments was such a game changer. It helps me stay organized, minimizes spills, and limits what I can actually bring with me — which is important. I’d highly recommend both.
The Actual Packing List for 10 Days in Europe in a Carryon
I stressed over this packing list. Not just because I was fitting 10 days in a carryon, but because of the timing of the trip. Late September is difficult. It’s not summer, but it’s still warm. You want to be in sundresses, but also don’t want to look totally off base with the season. Also, I wanted to lean into the South of France with blue and white, but was that too summery? Did I overthink it? Perhaps. But I did buy a few new items, which I’ll note below.
First I’ll give the list, then under the image, I’ll talk about how I put together outfits. I’ve linked items where there is an exact or near-exact match, which, thanks to buying classics, there usually is!
Black leggings — wore on plane
Blue ruffle skirt (old)
Floral top — new for trip
Black long sleeve tee — wore on plane
Black lace top (old)
White silk top (old)
Black button up blouse (15% off wide code HEATHERB15)
White linen button up blouse (15% off wide code HEATHERB15)
Sarah Flint Perfect Block 30 Sandals ($50 off with code SARAHFLINT-BAHEATHERB)
Sarah Flint Perfect Block 60 Sandals ($50 off with code SARAHFLINT-BAHEATHERB)
Rothy’s Driving Moc — wore on plane
Navy blazer (mine is vintage, but this is close)
Jean jacket — wore on plane
Dresses and Sets
Green floral dress — new for trip
Black floral dress (old Mango)
Blue and white Somerset dress — new for trip
Blue and white striped set (old)
Blue and white striped dress (similar, but mine is old Mango)
Hat — new for trip (though I’ve had in black for years!)
Cashmere wrap (old) — wore on plane
Black Ferragamo clutch (vintage)
Louis Vuitton clutch (old)
Blue print bikini top and bottom
Black bikini top and bottom
Is there anything I wouldn’t have packed? If we hadn’t had the last two days in a Spanish coastal town, I could have skipped bringing my Jack Rogers and bathing suits altogether. I didn’t even bother with a cover up — I just wore a dress. Plus, I could have only brought one bathing suit.
How I Thought About My Outfits + The Workhorses
I don’t think these photos give the full representation of how I multi-tasked items (besides for the Sarah Flint Perfect Block Sandals and my Tuckernuck Hat, of course), so let’s talk about how I put together outfits, and which pieces I wore multiple times.
- I brought a few dresses that worked for day and rewore them each twice throughout the trip, but with different looks. For example, I wore the Anthropologie Somerset dress on a warm day in Nice on its own, and then again a few days later in Provence layered with the navy blazer. I wore the Few Moda green floral dress on its own for a warm day walking around Barcelona, then layered with a jean jacket for a slightly cooler day in Provence.
- My Frank & Eileen white linen button up blouse was able to multi-task both as a layer over my striped set and on its own with jeans.
- I bought a green and ivory tee-sweatshirt while I was there that I wrote twice — once out for a casual dinner with jeans and the navy blazer, then for day with my white jeans and braided leather belt.
- Each evening or cooler day, I reached for either my navy blazer or my jean jacket. These gave me enough flexibility to have a more tailored look and a more casual piece that I could pair with black.
- For nights, with exception of one black dress, I brought a few “going out” tops (as we used to say) and wore those with jeans. I used silk scarves to add a bit of interest — they take up almost no room in a suitcase!
- While I did have my K. Slade leather tote as my personal item for the plane, the bag I reached for every day was my navy Longchamp Bag. In the evenings, I chose one of two clutches, both of which pack completely flat.
- The biggest key to packing in a carryon is limiting your shoes. By bringing neutral sandals, I was able to wear the same shoes every day. I could have gotten away with bringing just the Sarah Flint Perfect Block 30 Sandals but I brought the 60, too, to give myself a little more oomph in the evenings. If I’d been tighter on space, I would have skipped those.
The absolute workhorses of this trip were my Sarah Flint Perfect Block 30 Sandals, Tuckernuck Hat, and navy Longchamp Bag. I wore these literally every day of the trip. The Sarah Flint sandals are so, so incredibly comfortable. I easily walked 20,000 steps in them most days. They’re definitely a splurge, but I can’t recommend them enough. The Tuckernuck Hat is a great buy and it looked so chic with every outfit. And, of course, the navy Longchamp bag is one that’s stood the test of time for probably 15 years now. It fits my camera, as well as anything else I need.
Lastly, How’d We Bring Items Back?!
Y’all, I still don’t know how we made this work. Somehow, we were able to fit 6 bottles of wine, multiple French and Spanish pantry items, and the Longchamp bucket bag that I bought without having to purchase another bag. We did have to check Adam’s suitcase (with the wine) on the way back but, with the help of a reusable tote from the hotel, we simply put a few items, including my bag in its oversized box so it wouldn’t get squashed, in there, and we were good to go. So good to go, in fact, that we took the metro back from Dulles (I know) because it was rush hour and dragged our bags from the station to our condo. At which point I immediately unpacked. Of course.