Light packing has always been a bit of a stretch or wishful thinking for me. I used to lean towards a “more = better prepared” philosophy instead of “planning = better prepared.” However, in the last couple of years we’ve begun to pare down our belongings and expenses and concentrate on things that really make us happy. The freedom to travel and experience as much as we can started to make its way up our priority list.
With a 10-day trip up Highway 1 on the horizon, I knew I wanted an Aeronaut, but I was extremely unsure which of the two sizes I needed. I was flying by myself for the first time in nearly 15 years…and I’m not a fan of flying, not to mention the hassle and cost of checking a bag, or the risk of losing said bag. I wanted to be able to pack for the whole trip in a carry-on. Ideally, I hoped to fit everything in the Aeronaut 30 but I ordered an Aeronaut 45 too as a potential contender in case my newfound packing skills didn’t turn out to be so good.
A couple of weeks before the trip, I started to check the weather for each of our stops and plan my packing accordingly. The day the bags showed up, I pulled out the items on my packing list and put them in a pile. I wasn’t at all confident that I could make everything fit in just a carry-on. However, I had read that multiple other travelers had had the same doubts until they tried organizing all their stuff in packing cubes. Before I threw in the towel, I had to see for myself if cubes could work for me. I’m happy to say they do! The only things I ended up not packing were things I never had on my list to begin with, the things I grabbed in a panic “just in case.”
My entire packing list for a 10-day trip up the Pacific Coast Highway included:
- 6 bottoms: 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of chinos, 2 pairs of shorts, and 1 pair of leggings
- 3 dresses
- 9 tops: 4 tees, 3 button ups, 2 tanks
- 1 sweater
- 1 jacket
- 3 pairs of shoes: sandals, clogs, and Keds (I did end up buying a pair of Sanuks on the trip)
- 2 sleep shirts
- 3 pairs of socks
- 5 pairs of underwear
- 3 bras
- 1 bikini
- Toiletries: deodorant, toothbrush, concealer, blush, razor, face oil, and a hair tie
- Other: sunglasses, phone charger, canteen, 2 stainless sporks, a cloth napkin, 2 cloth bags, headphones, camera and lens, Turkish towel, watch, iPad and charger, a foldable purse, and 3 books
I was able to fit everything above in the Aeronaut 30 and the Night Flight Travel Duffel. I wore my bulkiest items on the days that I flew to save space and I carried my jacket. I also found it helpful to clip my Klean Kanteen to the Aeronaut’s sternum strap when I carried it as a backpack.
Packing lessons learned on this trip:
Don’t do any wishful thinking with regards to weather. Being from the Midwest, I felt like even coastal California would be warm. With the exception of the first four nights of the trip in San Diego and Ojai, I was cooler than I would have preferred. I could have done without one or two of those dresses, a pair of shorts, and sleep shirts in exchange for another sweater and a pair of sweatpants.
Pack everything in the same order. I used three packing cubes for the Aeronaut: one for bottoms, another for tops and dresses, and one of the smaller ones for sleepwear and underwear. Early on, I got in the habit of putting the cube with bottoms in the main compartment first, and then the cube with my tops. It took the guesswork out of which cube I needed when reaching for something.
Keep toiletries to a minimum. I used one 3D Organizer Cube for everything I needed. I also tried to forego as much as possible, meaning no toothpaste (sorry if that’s gross, but 10 days of brushing with water only won’t kill anyone), nothing for hair styling, and bare bones for makeup (frees up time to do other things, plus we could all stand to love ourselves a little bit more these days sans face paint).
Use a duffel as a personal item. I used the Night Flight as my personal item on flight days and packed my regular purse in the Aeronaut. I used one of the end pockets of the duffel to hold my regular purse items. Once I reached my final destination I transferred my wallet, phone, and canteen back into my purse. This was the best way for me to take my regular purse—along with everything else—while sticking to the 2 bag carry-on rule.
Be sure to read the rest of Jenn’s trip report here!