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Packing: Can I do the tiny suitcase?

So my big decision of the week is: Can I pack in a carry-on size bag? Actually, it is even smaller, it is only 19 inches. I want to check it, so I will also have a carry-on backpack and of course a purse. In my carry-on I will keep my reading materials, printouts of hotel reservations, train tickets, camera, my most important toiletries, etc. I will also wear my bulkiest shoes on the plane!

I have never been good at packing lightly and I really hate it when I feel that I left something behind that I really need, which makes me over-pack instead. But I want to change it! :)

So I did a little test tonight: I stuffed as much as I could into my little suitcase. (There was probably a little more room left, but not much.) This is what I was able to fit in:


  • 4 sweaters
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 1 other pair of pants
  • Tweed jacket
  • Cute jacket
  • 4 long sleeved t-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • Some toiletries
  • 1 fat Lonely Planet

Edited to add: This is just what I was able to put in - I will move stuff around; for instance, two pairs of jeans is enough, and I may not need four sweaters. And I will need some short sleeved shirts in case it is warm in Lecce.

In addition, I would of course wear pants, sweater, a pair of shoes, and a jacket on the plane, which means one more outfit. I can do laundry in Bologna midway as well. I would need more shirts, though. Oh, and the much discussed curling iron! Hm... I guess I can put some shirts in my backpack. I also need something nice for my party in Bologna, but I am thinking that it will be jeans/nice jacket or something like that. No room for booths and skirts, for instance.

I guess I am so used to having extra room that having just enough worries me - what if I buy clothes, for instance? (I can easily fill a big duffel bag for a long weekend.) But I would LOVE to have a tiny bag for train rides and the like. If I find that this is not sustainable, I'll have to get some kind of small rolling duffel - I don't want to take my regular sized suitcase, as it will be annoying on the trains.

To be continued!

(Speaking of packing, here is a link to a discussion on Slow Talk about "Packing heavy." It's pretty funny!)

Comments (11)

Barb Cabot:

I'm really tuning in to this post and will follow carefully. Packing is always a huge problem/challenge for me. These days more than ever I want to travel efficiently. So far you're doing really well. I'm learning from you.

Oh Chiocciola, aren't we all in the same pickle?Why is it so hard to pack light? I don't know, but I am having problems too. Anyway, I was thinking, 4 sweaters and 4 long sleeve shirts should be enough if you are doing laundry midway, no? Or if you think you are going to be using the long sleeve shirts in the evening, maybe go with like 6 tops and 2 long sleeve shirts??
I agree with you though, a big suitcase is a pain on trains,so I understand your mission to pack light.

And great decision about shoes, I hope I can be good with that too, I always take too many shoes, I have some sort of obsession with them.
Good luck!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Chiocciola, looks like you're doing a great job of pairing things down. On my last trip I ended up mailing some unused clothing back to lighten my load. It cost me money and time but I was traveling by trains and I realized that I needed to lighten the load.

Thanks for the Slow Travel link, I'm not sure I read that one and it is pretty funny and interesting.

Good luck with your packing and have a great trip!

Yes, you can do it!

I always take carry-on, not checked, and I've never regretted it. It helps me to lay the clothes out and make sure everything matches so I can do lots of mix-and-match. I also take some throwaway clothes (an old t-shirt to sleep in, for example) that I throw away to make room for stuff I buy.

Packing lightly is overrated in my opinion! LOL You've pared things down considerably - I am impressed.

Thanks Barb, nobody has ever said they have learned packing light from me so that is very sweet! :)

Candi, good advice on the shirts. And I agree on the shoes, it is hard when you don't know what the weather will be like and you want dressier shoes for night time...

Kathy, thanks for stopping by, I agree very much on the trains! I want to be able to handle my own luggage easily on the trains. I have five longer train rides plus the one from the airport so I need it!

Annie, I didn't realize you only take a carry on, good job! Especially since you often travel in the cold season.

Jerry, I thought about you when I linked to the heavy packing thread! :)

That's a very good job. For me, the killer is always shoes. We frequently take large boots which take up most of our room.

sandrac:

Chiocciola, I applaud your efforts to pack light, and it looks like you're really doing well. That's a good list of things to take and I'm very impressed that you can fit all that into a small suitcase!

I always aim to pack light, but it'll never happen. I think toiletries are my biggest single problem, especially a 3-week supply of contact lens solution! (At least, that dwindles as the trip progresses.) My size 11 shoes also pose a heavyweight problem -- thank God for summer and sandals!

Anyway, I'll be watching for your packing update, an endlessly interesting topic.

I like that you are taking a cute jacket! I am very impressed with your list.

I fail every year at this. I really don't know what my problem is. Maybe I should list what I plan to take and get suggestions like you are... although I probably would not be brave enough since I know I take too much. I do take long shorts, capris, pants, a skirt since it is summer as well as long undies - that is just the bottoms!

The list I posted was just what I was able to put in the bag - I will switch things out and around but at least I have an idea of the capacity.

Marta, Sandra, yes, shoes take a lot of room! I am a size 10 so mine are big as well... I think we are doing some hiking in Sud Tirol, and my plan is to bring (wear on the plane) a pair of black terrain running shoes that have Goretex so they are somewhat waterproof.

Girasoli, I am getting so many good suggestions here! Definitely a good way to do it. Oh, and the cute jacket is a must - I will wear that for my event in Bologna and probably other times as well.

Wearing the heavy stuff on the plane is good. I usually 'carry' my jeans and boots that way.

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