How to live out of a carry on suitcase

Since travelling to Melbourne with only a carry on sized suitcase, I have learnt a few things about the necessities of travelling light for an extended period of time.

Being able to pack lightly is an great skill to have and yet so many of us find it difficult. When you're a model you might find that you sometimes get last minute notice of travel for a shoot. You could be gone just overnight, a few days or even a month or so.

Here's an easy to follow guide when packing light.

Invest in a good quality hard case carry on size suitcase. You can get them at most bag shops or department stores. They come in various price points, colours and sizes. Picking a bag that is easy to recognise and fits the carry on luggage requirements is a great place to start. If you choose a simple looking suitcase that is common, consider adding some stickers or luggage tags that will help you identify it quicker at the airport. Hard case suitcases may help to protect your belongings better than a soft case suitcase.

Use travel size toiletries and cosmetics. Use a toiletries bag that adheres to your airlines specifications for liquids. A clear bag makes the security screening process faster so you don't have to pull out individual pieces for inspection. Pint sized cosmetics are reasonably easy to find at places like Priceline and Sephora. Travel sized cosmetics/toiletries can be a bit more expensive than their full sized cousins, the alternative is to buy travel sized toiletries containers (you can get a pack from most variety stores) and fill them with your own products.

Less is more. It is so easy to overpack, I personally always have items that I pack but don't even bother to wear more than once or twice. Pack the items you think you will need, and then repack them and discard anything you can't see yourself wearing multiple times. Apparently, "you wear 10% of your wardrobe 90%" of the time, so try to pack those garments and discard the other items you only wear 10% of the time. Space in a carry on suitcase is very valuable real estate so you want to take full advantage of every inch. ...BUT there is an exception to the rule... I packed at least a weeks worth of underwear but there were some weeks where I was working everyday (even on weekends) and I would just about run out of underwear. As a model you need to pack AT LEAST 7 pairs of nude underwear and 1-2 nude bras. It is better to be safe than sorry and underwear (especially g-strings) doesn't take up much space.


A large scarf or sarong is multi-use. A large cotton sarong or large woollen scarf (for colder climates) is a fantastic item to have with you in my opinion. Carry it with you in your handbag for ultimate convenience. You can use it for many different things, for example you can: wear it as a scarf to keep your neck warm on cooler days, wear it as a top or dress in warmer weather, a picnic blanket at the park or draped over dirty seats, used as a cover up for visiting temples, wrap it around your dirty laundry etc.

Pack garments that you can mix and match. Try to pack things that work together in a colour story, if all of your tops and bottoms all go with each other you can get more outfits out of a small number of garments. A minimalist capsule style wardrobe can be great for this. Also if you are travelling to a cooler climate pack items that you can layer instead of packing chunky knits and jackets, as they take up a lot of space. Layering light knits will help you keep warm and all the items can also be worn separately to create multiple outfit choices. Merino wool can be a great choice for light knits and may be worth the investment $$.

Remember that practice makes perfect. It might take you a few different trips to get a feel for what items you will need on your time away. Keep note of the things you used a lot and the things you pack that you didn't use very much, you will probably pack better next time.

Pack your essentials in your handbag: Pack everything that you might need during transit and the flight in your handbag for easier access.

Here are some items that I carry in my handbag:

  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Other devices ipod/ipad/kindle
  • Snacks and water for the flight
  • Wallet with cash, debit/credit card
  • Passport & boarding passes
  • A good book or magazine.
  • Neck pillow
  • Large scarf/sarong
  • Eye mask (for long haul flights)

Have you travelled with just a carry on suitcase before? What are your travel essentials? I would love to know, please leave me a comment below.