Traveling with One Suitcase

Compared to a lot of travel bloggers, I haven’t really traveled that much. When I do travel, it’s usually for two to four weeks, and I’m only allowed to take one suitcase and one carry-on with me. What I have learned in my limited travels is that checking your bag is always a pain in the butt and that you really don’t need everything you think you do. Needless to say, from my month-long trips abroad and dealing with family on family trips, I’ve learned a thing or two about packing light.

Pick Your Essentials

You should start by making a list of everything you need to bring for your trip. Making this kind of list is not my forte and I always end up packing everything the night before I travel. But, you shouldn’t aim to be like me, you should try to be better than me. Making a list is the best way to ensure you’ll only forget one thing as opposed to five.

So, what is an “essential” while traveling? That’s going to depend on the person. For example, if you’re a someone who gets their period once a month then you’re going to need to take your necessary hygiene products as well as anything else you need for that time of the month. Other people might consider their Pillow Pet an essential, whereas others might say “Sam, you’re twenty-five-years-old, leave that thing at home.”

Whatever those essentials are, make sure they’re at the top of your list and the first thing that go into your suitcase.

The Best Suitcase

The best suitcase is always going to be objective. I don’t like hard, plastic suitcases no matter how cute they are because, well, they take up too much space. With light, canvas suitcases, you can easily store them in a closet or under your bed after you unpack (because, let’s be real, no one wants to live out of a suitcase for a month or longer). This is especially important if you’re looking at spending an extended amount of time on a boat like my family does. You’re not going to have a lot of cabin space, so make sure you’re taking something that can be stowed away easily.

I also don’t like the trendy plastic suitcases because they’re going to be heavier than a canvas bag. When traveling with one suitcase, you’re going to be given a weight limit on your suitcase. When I went to London, I think it was about 50 pounds. You should want that weight to go to everything you’re going to take with you, not the device you’re using to carry it all. And don’t worry, there are plenty of canvas suitcases with wheels you can purchase.

Traveling with One Suitcase
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

How to Pack

There are so many methods for packing your suitcase. Personally, I love the rolling method, which is where you roll your clothes and stack them rather than traditional folding. It’s a great way to pack a lot without using a lot of room if you’re traveling with one suitcase.

You can find so many packing methods on Pinterest, and the right method is going to change based on the person. The best method is also going to change based on what suitcase you’re actually using. The most important thing I can say is to use your carry-on luggage wisely.

You’re allowed one personal item and one piece of luggage, as long as it fits within carry-on guidelines. I always use my backpack when I’m traveling. It can fit my laptop and my makeup bag as well as other little things that I don’t want wasting space in my suitcase.

In Case of Emergencies

When I was in Europe, I had an old roller/duffle bag hybrid that wasn’t designed for the amount of stuff I needed to carry. The wheels were too small for the size of the bag, and I ended up wearing a hole in the bottom. I didn’t have a sewing kit or duct tape to fix the hole, so I used the next best thing: I used a “feminine napkin” to repair the hole and switched them out as need be. So, because accidents happen, here are some things you should consider taking in case of emergency.


  • A Sewing Kit – This should be a no-brainer. Take a small bag of sewing supplies with you in case anything tears or you need to fix a button.
  • Detergent – Same logic as the sewing kit, accidents happen so if you can make room for it, take a small bottle of laundry detergent with you so you won’t have to pay to have your clothes washed.
  • Duct Tape – I just can’t stop thinking how much I wish I had duct tape when my suitcase tore.
  • Extras – If you have space in your carry-on luggage, I recommend packing extra underwear, socks, and travel-sized toilette trees just in case your luggage gets lost. Better safe than sorry.

What are some things you can’t travel without?

Traveling With One Suitcase Pinterest

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