Well, for starters, this is only applicable when traveling to a tropical island. Aka, light on the clothing, heavy on the bikinis, which as we all know, are very tiny these days. On my recent trip to Maui I was determined to travel light, as I’m not really an over-packer, I’m more of a shitty packer. Meaning: I pack without thinking. I cover all the bases but I don’t pair outfits ahead of time, I bring useless items, and so I always have to check my bag(s).

2 days before my trip I received a 3-piece luggage set from Calpak–hello marble luggage of my dreams!–and made it my mission to only bring the carry-on. I must admit that once I actually unzipped the bag I wasn’t too daunted by this mission…the bag has space!

The first thing I did was lay everything out on the bed. Once all the “essentials” were there I began to edit this shit out of all the crap I laid out. Since this trip was only 1 week it was a pretty easy amount of stuff to manage, otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d just have an “eff it” attitude and check a bag.

Here is how I managed to pack 1 week’s worth of tropical island vacation style into one carry-on:

The Perfect Carry-On: As I said, this bag is spacious and very well thought out / organized. There are small compartments for underwear, shoes, toiletries, etc. I love that. I’m notorious for not unpacking while ON a trip (I live out of the suitcase) so having a specific spot for all my stuff made the actual trip part really nice and easy. Also, breezing through the airport with my fancy-shmancy rolling carry-on was juuuuuust fabulous!

A Bunch of Bikinis: Duh. The main attraction on most tropical islands is the beach, making the necessity for bathing suits pretty crucial. The nice part is they are pretty tiny and compact, and you can double a one-piece as a bodysuit with shorts as an outfit. Bingo. I like to use a drawstring cloth bag to store all my bikinis while traveling. And for the record, when I do check a bag, my bikinis are usually in my purse. No joke. Valuables, you know?

Bodysuits: One-piece bathing suits or just bring a few bodysuits. So easy, cute, and again, takes a tiny amount of space. Speaking of taking up space, I hope everyone has already caught on that rolling your clothing, not folding, is the way to go when packing. Always.

Denim cut-offs: Which brings up to shorts. This is an area I always over-pack. I guess I never realized what a denim-shorts hoarder I am but I’ve got tons. No, Sivan, you don’t need 3 different blues, 1 white, 2 distressed, 1 boyfriend, and 1 high-waisted. Just, no. 2 pair–blue and white–will do.

Flip flops: Don’t fool yourself. No one wears heels on an island. Not even me. And to be totally honest, I’m usually more barefoot than anything while on vacation so flip-flops is as committed as I get to shoes on an island.

Lace-up sandals: Ok fine, 1 pair of “dressy” sandals are fine. Just for nights you might be going a nice dinner. But again, most islands are very casual so sandals are fine (not heels!).

A Flirty Dress: For dinners, random dates, events, etc. This requires a little thinking ahead, but typically I don’t need more than 1 or 2 dresses. Stick to something flowy so it can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Toiletries: THIS is where I also used to mess up big time. For starters I used to bring a blow-dryer everywhere. Why. Every hotel in the world has one–a shitty one, yes–but a blow-dryer, nonetheless. I also used to pack my entire make-up drawer. Stupid. On vacation you have a natural glow…leave the foundations and heavy stuff at home. Think about the make-up that will enhance your tan–mascara, eyebrow filler, a little shimmer bronzer, red lipstick, golden eyeshadow, etc. I’ve scaled down the make-up packing a lot.

As for your skin routine, that’s a little tricky. At my age my skin is dependent on my products and there’s no way around it. However, I recently discovered that ALL my cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, etc. are all TSA-approved sizes. Basically I only bring the essentials.

Pajamas: 1-2 should cut it, right? And go for a nightie or t-shirt to save space.

Undies: I always run out of underwear!! How????? Plan on 2 pair per day just in case. Otherwise plug your bathroom sink and start hand-washing mid-trip. To be totally honest I always pack my bra(lette) but it never gets used so if you’re like me you can most likely just skip that. Oh, and if you wear sneakers on the plane don’t forget to bring clean socks for the trip back home. I always do that…

Bomb Beach Bag: Something big-ish and cute that can double as a purse while on the plane and your beach bag during the trip.

Hat: My least favorite part of traveling somewhere warm is the damn hat. You CANNOT pack it. They will get ruined / squished. I always end up carrying it (and always almost forget it on the plane), wearing it on my head, force Paul to wear it, whatever it takes until we get to the hotel.

Festive Jewelry: Nothing crazy or expensive. In general when traveling I usually leave my wedding rings at home just in case. It’s just not worth it. However, it’s fun to rock some tassels or pom-poms in a bikini so pack things that make sense and keep it tight.

Plane Clothes: Obviously you’re wearing an outfit on the plane, but don’t forget about the ride home. My go-to now is distressed jeans (don’t want anything tight on a plane), a comfy tee, and sneakers. That way the bigger / bulkier clothing aren’t in the suitcase wasting space and if I need sneakers for the trip I don’t have to pack those either. Just throw in an extra clean t-shirt so you don’t feel totally gross on the way back.

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