Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Packing Light: How to Pack for Two Weeks in a Carry On

I spent weeks figuring out what to pack for my two week trip to Spain in a carry on. I had bought a great backpack that I knew fit all of the requirements for carry on luggage (even the crazy rules for Ryanair), and some packing cubes. About a week before my trip I had a comprehensive list of everything that I thought I would like to bring, and I had been slowly crossing things off it. Too bad that when I packed the weekend before my trip, the list was safely in my desk at work. The good news, I didn’t forget anything.

For 15 days in Spain, I used a 46 liter backpack and my crossbody purse. I never had a check a bag, and walking around cities with my stuff was a breeze!


What I packed in my backpack:
eagle-creek-packing-bags-two-weeks-in-europe-how-to-pack-in-a-carry-on eagle-creek-packing-cubes-how-to-pack-for-two-weeks-to-europe-in-a-carry-on


We went to Spain in the middle of September when the weather couldn’t make up it’s mind if it was summer or fall. This meant that I had to bring a few extra things that I wouldn’t have if every city could have gotten on the same page about the weather. I dressed like it was fall in some places, and wore summer dresses in others. We had planned on doing laundry every 5 days (so twice while traveling), which worked out great! The Airbnb’s we stayed in all had a washing machine and a drying rack.

I used packing bags, which were a life savor! My bag would have been a disaster without them, and I definitely would not have been able to fit as much. I put my underwear and socks in the smallest bag, my athletic clothing (running stuff, crops, sports bras, etc.) in the medium bag, and everything else in the large bag. I rolled all of my clothes to save space.

  • 3 t-shirts (one made out of technical fabric that can be worn as a nice shirt, or to hike)
  • 2 dresses (I could have easily cut to one, but I did wear them both multiple times)
  • Slip (worn under both dresses)
  • Yoga pants (worn on the plane and in just about every place we stayed at night)
  • Cropped leggings (for hiking, lounging, and layering)
  • Sweatshirt (worn on the plane, hiking, and at night)
  • 3/4 sleeve shirt (worn on the plane)
  • Denim shirt
  • Navy shorts (never worn, should have left them at home)
  • Mary Jane Sneakers (worn on the plane and everywhere else. Loved traveling in these.)
  • Flip flops (beach and a gross shower I don’t want to talk about.)
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 1 bra (worn on the plane. I had sports bras if I had some sort of catastrophic spill that required laundering.)
  • 6 pairs of socks for my Mary Janes
  • A pair of thick socks (for lounging around)
  • A pair of black jeans
  • White camisole
  • Light rain coat (it rained the day we landed in Madrid, and I was so happy I had it for an extra layer on cool, windy nights. It folded up so small I often stashed it in my purse.)
  • Comfy sleep shirt
  • Drawstring bag for dirty clothes

Running/exercise stuff:

While I was in Spain I had to keep training for my upcoming half marathon. I tried not to bring an entire gym with me, but there are a few things I wouldn’t leave home without.

  • Running shoes (I could have worn them on the plane, but I wanted to be able to slip my shoes on and off quickly. Instead I made sure I had enough room in my bag for them.)
  • 2 pairs of running shorts (I could have gotten by with one)
  • 3 sports bras (two would have been plenty)
  • 1 running tank
  • 2 technical shirts (one would have been enough)
  • 4-5 pairs of running socks (at least two too many)
  • Snacks
  • GPS watch (+ charger)
  • Arm band (never used)
  • Tiger Tail (used a lot! Never had a problem carry it on in my backpack. I went through five security checkpoints, not one even asked me about it or took it out of my bag.)
  • Lacrosse ball (A.K.A. my feet’s best friend.)
  • Yoga towel (clipped to the outside of my pack. Perfect for lounging on the beach, a couple down dogs wherever we were staying, an extra towel, etc.)
  • Goggles (totally swam in the ocean… once. Worth it!)
  • Nuun (one half-empty tube)
  • Hat (for running, hiking, and beach lounging)


What I packed in my purse:

  • Water bottle (always.)
  • Two magazines
  • Kindle
  • Wallet
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lip balm
  • Travel sized tissue
  • Snacks!
  • Adapter
  • iPhone charger
  • Headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Journal
  • Empty bag for groceries, etc.
  • Pattern + materials for a friendship bracelet (completed in route)

PS. For more on what I did in Spain, check out this post.

2 Responses

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