Are you planning a trip and wanting to fit it all in just a carry on or a backpack? Keep reading for a great system packing for any type of trip in a carry on/backpack!

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I think it’s definitely possible to look cute and pack completely in a backpack for a vacation. I mention in one of my ten tips for traveling abroad to always pack light (10 Tips Before Traveling Abroad). The backpack that I use and swear by is the Osprey 46 Porter, which I will link below. This post will be all about creating cute outfits while still packing light!

There are many other items I recommend for packing in just a backpack, but this post will just focus on packing clothes since they take up the most space. I’ve come up with a system that I use for every single one of our trips and I’m able to have multiple outfit options and still look cute in my pictures! I am no fashionista so this system may not work for everyone, and that is totally okay! You can adjust this system to fit your own unique style or even use it to pack in a checked bag but have more outfit options! But I will assure you, in the words of one of my favorite childhood shows; no you will not be “Lizzie McGuire AN OUTFIT REPEATER!!!” 

The best way to ensure you fit everything in a backpack is planning! Visualizing and planning your outfits out and exactly which pieces of clothing you will bring. I know this can sound daunting but stick with me! You do not have to plan exactly which outfit you are going to wear exactly which day, unless you want to of course.

The Packing List:

  1. 3 versatile tops
  2. 3  versatile bottoms
  3. 1 dress/jumpsuit
  4. 1 Light Coat
  5. 1 pair tennis shoes
  6. 1 pair neutral dressy shoes or booties
  7. 1 pair PJs
  8. 4 pairs socks and underwear
  9. Assortment of scarves, bralettes, headbands, belts to accessorize with!

This is what a packing list looked like for our 10 day trip to Europe in the fall. With this packing list you’ll have 11 outfits! Our trips are usually around 10 days so 10 outfits is a happy number. With that said, you can use this system for any climate or duration of trip, but what you choose will vary (shorts, tank tops, sweaters, etc). 

Okay time to break it down, we are going to pick out three versatile tops and three versatile bottoms. You will want all the tops to be able to match the bottoms, so it will make 9 outfits for you! Sometimes I will even make a chart so that I can keep track or I will take pics of the outfits for reference. That way when it comes time to pack I know exactly what to pick out from my closet.

I do not include my airport outfit on the packing list but I think its important to note: use your airport outfit to your advantage! Athleisure is so in style and if you are going to have additional flights, long train rides or travel days, it will be nice to have a comfy outfit to wear. Additionally, if you plan to do any hiking or physical exercise you can wear your workout clothes as your airport outfit. Mine usually consists of:

Airport Outfit:

  1. Comfy Shirt
  2. Comfy Sweatshirt
  3. Athletic leggings/joggers

My personal packing list would look like this:

Three tops:

  1. Black short sleeve turtleneck
  2. White button up blouse
  3. Burnt Orange ribbed short sleeve shirt

Three bottoms:

  1. Mom Jeans
  2. Cut off Straight Leg Jeans
  3. High waisted black cut off jeans

Neutral Shoes:

  1. Reebok Classics
  2. Ankle Brown Boots

& a light tan coat for the evenings because I get cold so easily!

I have linked tops and bottoms that are either the same one or a similar one as I have below:



Check out this video to see the specific items I mention in my packing list:

My style gravitates towards neutrals but if you prefer bright colors, skirts, etc then use those as your top and bottoms! The key is to just make sure all of your tops match all of your bottoms when alternated. If your trip is shorter than 10 days, then you do not have to worry about having 10 matching outfits, just enough for the days you will be there! 

You can stick with just the outfits but I like to accessorize with neckerchiefs, hats, sunglasses, etc to add color to my outfits since my pieces are pretty neutral. You can also alternate tucking in, letting loose, or half tucking in shirts to give your outfit a different look!

Let me know if this was helpful on your journey to packing for your trip or if there is more you would like to hear about being an efficient traveler!

Happy Exploring – Morgan

Check out my instagram to see the outfits for yourself!

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