Packing for a long weekend city break - High waisted bikini & kimono
Packing for a long weekend city break - travelling in Topshop patterned pants
Packing for a long weekend city break - 2 maxi dresses and a playsuit
Packing for a long weekend city break
Packing for a long weekend city break - 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair heels
Packing for a long weekend city break - roll clothes to fit more in your cabin case
Packing for a long weekend city break

Carry-On Packing

Author: Lauren Coleman

A few weeks ago Miranda and I both had the post-holiday blues and decided that the best way to get rid of them was to put together a feature about hand luggage holiday fashion. What followed was a slightly surreal conversation about a fake break that may have involved Miranda telling me I was taking far too many clothes away on my pretend holiday. I may have replied by telling her that I wasn’t just going away for Friday and Saturday but Sunday too and would be staying for much of Monday… Anyway enough about the delusional ramblings of the Rock My Style team and back to the packing.

Just imagine that this is a city break comprising of four days and three evenings having a lovely time sightseeing and soaking up the sun and atmosphere. Flying on a budget airline, the cabin sized suitcase is filled with enough outfit changes for the whole long weekend but there’s still room for souvenirs.
Miranda and I are not envious in any way shape or form of anyone who really is going on a holiday like this.

Mix and Match

I wear black most of the time so having tops and bottoms that go with each other is usually quite easy. I pick a black vest to go with a black skirt. As most people don’t like to look like they’re attending a funeral when that go off on their jollies I have extended out the colour palette and branched out into white and coral splashes. It’s a tip that’s been shared a million times but having items that can be mixed and matched to go with each other is the easiest way to cut down on the amount of stuff you need to pack.


My aeroplane attire has to serve two purposes, to be comfy and warm. Am I the only one who finds planes absolutely freezing? Therefore along with the relaxed slouchy Topshop Pants and River Island casual silky vest and cardi, I would also bring along a pashmina and socks.


In theory all you need for a city break is some sneakers, a pair of sandals and a pair of heels for the evening. I like to go with a mid-heel as after a hard day pounding the payments my feet are usually a bit sore. It’s optional if you want to regularly trip over paving stones and batter the front of your shoes like I seem to do. A lot.

{In My Case}
  • 1 smart maxi
  • 1 smart-casual maxi to be dressed up or down
  • 1 casual maxi
  • 1 playsuit
  • 2 casual short dresses for day
  • 2/3 sleeveless vests
  • 1 pair of denim shorts
  • 1 kimono
  • 1 bikini
  • 1 cardigan
  • PJs
  • Underwear
  • Slimline envelope style clutch with strap
  • Canvas shopper
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of low to mid heels
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Costume jewellery
  • Travel sized Toiletries
  • Swimwear

    It would appear that the hotel I’m staying in is very swanky and has its own pool. Perfect for sporting my new high waisted bikini from the Topshop swimwear range – and cute kimono (that would also double up as a cover-up). River Island have a great selection this season.
    I would always pack a hat too to protect my head and face from the sun. I’ve recently bought a straw version from H&M which can be folded up to fit in your case.


    For dashing around the city I’d suggest taking a few sleeveless tops, a couple of simple dresses, a casual maxi dress and a pair of shorts. The tops can be mixed and matched with the shorts and the trousers from the plane.

    Evening wear

    I would leave separates at home and instead go for a couple of maxis and a playsuit all of which would be suitable for going out for dinner, drinks and dancing and take up next-to-no room in your bag.

    Roll with it

    After I’ve packed shoes at the bottom of my case, I usually roll the rest of the garments and then slot awkward shaped items in any of the gaps.

    The extras

    I like to take a very slim clutch with me to the airport that has a fine strap. In here I pack my passport, lippy, sunglasses and phone and decant my purse to a slimline wallet. This means when I get to the boarding gate I can easily slide my bag inside my case if the airline staff are strict to impose the one piece of hand baggage rule. I always take a canvas shopper with me for shopping when I hit the city.

    I pack my smalls in a bikini bag (Primark do loads of zip pouches in their swimwear section) and then use a small make-up bag to transport my jewellery.

    For beauty I take travel sized items of everything aside from sun cream. I am so pale skinned that I slather it on like it’s going out on fashion so I always nip to Boots when I ‘go through to the other side’ to pick up a couple of bottles. If you fancy it do place your requests for a holiday beauty post and we’ll see what we can do.

    Just to be really annoying everything I have recently bought has miraculously disappeared from the shops so the items you see in the fancy shopping widget are similar replacements.

    These are the clothes that I should have taken on my recent trip to Italy rather than the entire contents of my summer wardrobe. Does anyone else pack like they’re going away for a month? Who can easily manage to pack for a trip away in a cabin bag? What are your top tips for a holiday hand luggage packing? Oooh and finally does anyone else want to join me on my fake break?

    {Shop the Post}

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    Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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    32 thoughts on “Carry-On Packing

    1. Ooo, me me me please!! A couple of weeks ago we went to Bruges and it was beautiful, but I have a different packing dilemma… I lay a lot of things out on the bed. I try to match colours so that I can take less stuff with me. I pack what’s left carefully in my case. Then when I arrive, I open my case to discover that actually all I have is a case full of ill-judged, patterned, mis-matched items (usually far more tops than bottoms, plus a dress that is too short to cover my bottom) and I spend the rest of my time away trying to get as much wear as possible out of one t-shirt. Why? Why do my usual approximate coordination skills go out of the window when I go abroad? Argh.

      1. The too short dress comment made me laugh Ann-Marie!
        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought separates to take on holiday and then realised when I arrive that I have nothing to wear them with.

    2. Could have done with this a couple of weeks ago when I had a nightmare trying to fit 5 days in croatia into hand-luggage. My solution was to fit as much in my husbands bag…. 🙂 I ended up wearing almost everything I took mainly out of principle. I always take wedges (which are heavy) and I always wear them once and then give up and wear flipflops everywhere. I did quiz Charlotte on hand-luggage make up as that really is a total nightmare decanting so much into silly little plastic bottles, so YES PLEASE to your holiday beauty item!

      1. I do this too. Why take wedges? I’m sure there’s a Dragon’s Den to be had for hollow wedges that look solid but are lighter to pack and wear!

      2. Hi Victoria, hope you had a fab time in Croatia.
        Charlotte will be putting together a holiday beauty post very soon 🙂

      3. I always take bloody wedges too, this magnificent (yet deadly) pair from All Saints I bought a few years ago, they make your legs look longer but weigh a tonne. I also only ever wear them once whilst I’m away, ridiculous.

        I’ll put together a beauty piece ASAP (looking forward to the research element where I get to buy stuff……) x

    3. Yes! Why are planes so cold?! I’m always amazed by some of the short shorts/strappy tops that people wear as they board – and they seem fine on board and not suffering from hypothermia. If I don’t have a pair of socks, long trousers and a thick jumper (basically armed for a climb up Kilimanjaro), I’m miserable.

      A holiday beauty post would be fab – I always spend a small fortune in Boots at the airport because I buy way too many ‘just in case’ items.

    4. I too would love a holiday post. I would also love to know where the bed cover in the cover picture is from?? Love it and it would look amazing in our newly renovated spare room!

      1. Hi Fleur, the duvet cover was from Home Sense a few years ago. Interestingly it has a Hobbs label inside the duvet cover and a completely different brand in the pillow cases!

    5. I always over pack for holidays – even when only taking a cabin size – (I once went to Paris for 3 nights staying in an airbnb and the owner was astounded by the size of my suitcase for a 3 night city break! I blame the Eurostar – due to the lack of weight / size restrictions I went wild!) I always get too over excited about the thought of wearing my summer clothes though that often don’t get that much a of a chance to be worn with British summer time being as it is! (Probably a sign I also buy too many summer clothes!).
      I do find it amazing the amount of things those little bags can fit though. The problem is I usually totally fill it on the way out and leave myself no room for the (inevitable) purchases! I always tell myself I’ll have used all the toiletries and that will make room!
      Next time I go away though I will remind myself of this post and try to be good!

      1. I took a rucksack the last time I went on the Eurostar. Big mistake. One, I looked like a French exchange student and two, I had no idea how to negotiate with a massive bag on my back. One rather angry woman actually pushed me out of the way…. I’m taking a suitcase next time!

    6. Oooooo timely post!
      I am currently trying to pack for 8 nights / 9 days in France – into ryanair cabin baggage!!!!!!!!
      I know, I’m completely nuts! haha

      I hate packing, it is just far too stressful, I seriously had a mini tantrum before our honeymoon as I couldn’t keep my clothes to just the normal checked in allowance!!! Poor Dave! (he ALWAYS ends up with a few bits & pieces of mine! heehee)

      Sadly with France in June I cannot guarantee complete sunshine, add to that the fact my mum lives pretty much on a farm – oh & second part will be in Paris = one varied set of clothes needed!!! Eeek!
      Luckily for me 6 of these nights will be at my mums, so I should be able to sneak a little bit of washing in to get more from my outfits!

      Thanks for the tips 🙂 xx

      ps. I started rolling my clothes after seeing Dawn O’Porter mention it – gone are the days of folding! genius!

      pps. I will most certainly be making a trip to books before I get on that plane (damn those airlines and airports with their travel size everything in the tiniest ziplock bag known to man! haha)

      1. Oooh Paris I am well jel 🙂 they dress very minimalist in gay Paris, I basically lived in one pair of black skinny jeans, a blazer and various cute vests/coloured court shoes. That was a mild October but not summer weather however. I’d say little summer dresses and chic flats all rolled up then perhaps take a few pieces of statement jewellery to jazz up for evening?

        I too have mastered the “roll” – you can fit so much more in!!!! x

      2. Have an awesome time in France Rebecca.
        I love that rolling means you can fit more in and your clothes end up less crumpled. Double whammy! x

    7. I always take way too much – I’m just awful at planning outfits ahead of time. Put it this way, I only decide what to wear on a daily basis when I open the wardrobe in the morning!

      On honeymoon I had the hugest suitcase in the world and only wore 50% of what I packed…! Shoes are my downfall – I too am prone to take a pair of heels and never wear them.

      We’re off to NYC in two weeks and I’m determined to pack well (thank god for long haul luggage allowances though!). Bit hard to know what to take when it’s currently in the low 30s (Celsius) and thunderstorms every afternoon!

      1. Have an amazing time in New York Jo. I’m sure it’ll still be very warm even during the thunderstorms so hopefully you can still pack your summerwear and nip into a bar or shop when it’s raining….

    8. I always take a heap of clothes that I never wear and never enough of what I wear! Thanks for the tips – brilliant!

    9. Pretty pretty please can I come on your imaginary trip? Sounds fun. Mind you I would need a whole private jet as I’m not the best at traveling light. Its not that i need an excessive amount of clothes or beauty products but more that I am so blinkin indecisive! I never know what I might want to wear. Couple that with the fact that for the last few years I have only gone away in this country (poor me!) and I end up packing everything from shorts and swimsuit (ever hopeful of sunny english weather) right through to my barbour and hunters plus everything in between!! Must take note of these packing tips if we do ever manage to escape! x

      1. Of course you can come on my trip Charlotte. We’ll have a great time, especially if you bring cake 😉 x

    10. Ooh good post, I am currently trying to pack for my first holiday with our little one. I am sharing a case with her which means I have to be seriously savvy with my selection. However I have done the thing I do every year and have gone into a melt down that I have nothing to wear and have run around the shops like a lunatic, panic buying, I always end up hating what I have bought when I get home and am usually bankrupt!! Oops, I wish someone would plan a really cool holiday wardrobe for me! Xx

    11. This has just shown me that we have a very similar wardrobe. 2 out of the 3 same pairs of shoes and the same general mix of… black. Fab tips. The roll is the only way to go. I’m off for a long weekend to Ibiza in a few weeks with only hand luggage allowance so this will come in very handy 🙂 x

    12. I am going away in August for 5 days… I will definitely be using this to prevent me squeezing my entire wardrobe in to a tiny carry on case (for which I would definitely need to pack an iron to undo all the damage when I arrive)!

    13. Thank you so much for the great tips, I am a TERRIBLE packer and struggle when given a restriction.
      I have recently invested in the new IT lugguage which weighs nothing, so you get a ton of extra weight allowance rather than using a standard case.
      As all girls would, I pack my heaviest wedges for the evenings, knowing that I will never wear them as the boys always want to walk miles before finding something to eat or drink!
      I’m a real sucker for leggings and a top. Leggings when rolled up take up little space and vest tops are great for touring cities, its easy to add a necklace and a blazer for the evenings!!

      1. Thanks Abbie, glad you found the tips useful.
        My mum has one of those IT luggage cases and they’re amazing aren’t they? She had the whole case packed and it felt like there was nothing in there!

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