Bag Lady: Why I Only Travel with a Carryon

Baduizm, 1997

Madame Erykah: House of Badu, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Golden Snatch, and Breaker of the Trite ‘90s Neo-Soul Music Chains, has guided us to the path of light and righteousness for as long as I can remember.

1. “You better pick your afro daddy, because its flat on one side.” 

2. “You better call Tyrone…But you can’t use my phone.”

3. “Bag lady, you gon’ hurt your back.  Draggin all them bags like that.”  

I received that third call to action with an untainted heart when I was quatorze and, and I have lived by those words ever since. I will admit there was a time that I was led astray (I never proclaimed to be perfect.) I did the unthinkable, and until this day, I wear the Scarlet C. 

I CHECKED my luggage.

MXP Airport

At dix-huit when I arrived in Malpensa bright-eyed and bushy-haired, I gleefully waited at the carousel for my houndstooth Anne Klein luggage (don’t judge me, that was the luggage I saved for after graduating high school) to emerge from the dizzying carousel, but it never did.

For an entire week, I had only toiletries.  After exchanging my year’s savings of un mille USD, it converted to less than sept cent cinquante euros.  That was all of the money I had for an entire semester; shopping was not an option.  As a fashion design student, I took the curtains from my flat and made trios robes, deux jupes et une chemise that I could wrap in various styles.

At dix-huit I was filled with optimism, hope, and light…all the things that are taken away after turning trente. Just kidding! My light radiates brighter avec time *insert deux fingernail polish emojis* Nevertheless, I don’t want to risk losing my luggage at this age and stage in life.

Returning to Milan Twelve Years Later.
At 18 I could barely afford to eat while in Italy. When I returned I shopped at Gucci, Prada and dined by the Duomo. The feeling was nothing less than surreal.

Un, my luggage now retails for more than my entire wardrobe at dix-huit and last but certainly not least, deux, it is tres, tres mandatory that I serve looks my entire international trip (you all were warned, my blog addresses very first world issues.)

Here are a few techniques I use to travel with only a tote and carry on.

Wear your bulkiest items.

It was JULY and I was adorned in fur departing DC to Reykjavik.

I know you may feel odd wearing a fur at the airport in July but reorient your thoughts.  Look over your (designer) shades and let it be piercingly known as you’re going through TSA “I’m landing in an alternate hemisphere.  Its winter there.”  *Insert four nail polish emojis* Six nail polish emojis if you say it in a foreign language!

Choose a couluer palette and add pops of couleur.

Leopard Print is a Neutral. NYC

I understand that my mostly black wardrobe does not appeal to all.  I’m merely advising you to choose solid essential garments and add bursts of couluer or prints with your accessories. 

Are those shoes made for walking?


I am blessed *insert one million-praising hand emojis* to be able to withstand high heels, continuously day and night.  But for those who can’t or simply choose not to, be honest with yourself and the precious retail space in your luggage.  Why pack quinze-cm stilettos for the cobblestone rues of Paris only to not wear them and to also risk not being able to explore the city because you’re limping.  ONLY pack shoes that are realistic to vous et votre location of arrival.

Totally tote a tote.

Neverfull MM

Tote bags are a must! A Louis Vuitton (LV) Neverfull GM fully expanded (40 x 33 x 20 cm) maybe a bit of a stretch but a Neverfull MM (37 x 29 x 17 cm) can certainly fit under your seat.  I keep all items I will need during the flight in my tote: book, LV PM Agenda, LV GM Agenda, iPad, iPod, chargers, phone, LV Toiletry 26, and 1L sparkling water.     

Suck it in. 

My tried and TRUE method of ensuring that I always carry on and I ALWAYS have room to shop is a vacuumed seal bag.  I LIVE for these things.  My only precaution is to confirm that your hotel/AirBnB/etc. has an iron because your garments will appear to be permanently wrinkled when you unseal the bag. 

Opting to only carry on also has financial perks. 

If you’ve just cashed in on a $89 one-way ticket to (insert your desired destination) more than likely that budget-fare comes with a trillion additional fees; seat selections, food, drinks, seat belt (I’ve seen it! Ok, I really haven’t) and the possible checked baggage fee.  The initial $89 fare can rapidly turn to $6oo.oo. 

Here’s a list of ten things I’d rather you spend $7o.oo (approx. savings not checking in) on:

  1. Thirty min massage
  2. Bottle of Clicquot
  3. 15 cappuccinos
  4. Mani/pedi
  5. Laduree keychain (if your arriving city is Paris)  
  6. Two (TSA Approved) Miss. Dior rollerballs
  7. 10 annoying ass “I HEART <insert city>” shot glass souvenirs
  8. Train ticket to neighboring city (Berlin to Prague is approx. $5o.oo)
  9. Two prix-fixe dejeuner (approx. 25 Euros in most European cities)
  10. A 100% Italian Silk Scarf in Como
A Complimentary Evening in Amsterdam

In addition to saving money, soley carrying on allows you beaucoup flexibility. I recall a flight to Cairo, with an hour layover in Amsterdam. The flight was overbooked and the airline offered to pay any customer willing to adjust their flight and a complimentary nights stay in Amsterdam. Had all of my belongings been checked in en route to Cairo, I would have missed the opportunity to comfortably experience a vacation within a vacation.

Do you only carry on? Or swear by checking in? What are some of your savvy packing tips? And what would you use an extra $7o.oo on?  

Ciao for now 💋


  1. Katrina Washington

    My favorite Blog thus far! The things stated in the blog makes your imagination have a Visual experience as if I were you. L❤️VE IT !

    • Awwwwww! Thank you! I’m trying to be as descriptive as I can. While not rambling ANDDDD staying within a certain word count. It ain’t easy! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  2. Moorsay

    I agree…those vacuum bags are life savers! However, I do have a question about lost luggage. How do I go about getting your luggage after leaving the airport? Also, what happens if they never find your luggage?

    • My husband introduced me to the vacuum bags and I’ve been addicted ever since. Fortunately the time in Milan was my only experience with lost/delayed luggage. A week and a half later the airlines contacted me and had my things delivered to my flat. But I’ve heard horror stories about people having to pay delivery fees or returning to the airport to get their lost luggage. I’d rather not take the chance. So #teamcarryon it is. Thank you for commenting!

  3. Love the way you write and your stylish travel tips! Your blog definetely rocks! 😘

    • Grazie mille! You are the FIRST international reader to comment!!! Time for Prosecco 🍾🍾🍾 when I return to Rome we must meet for a day of shopping!!! 💋💅🛍

  4. Keshaun

    I love that I’m learning French simultaneously as I learn thes travel hacks!

  5. Stephanie

    After one instance when your luggage is lost you will NEVER check a bag again. If I cant fit in in my carry on its not going on the trip lol.

  6. Leah Upshaw

    Love these travel trips! (Wishing that I had taken fur for my July trip to Reykjavik nearly 10 years ago!) Been traveling with only carry-ons as much as possible over the last several years. I just remarried and took two trips with new hubby, where traveling with only carry-ons was great! Our stay in Negril at the amazing Rock House ended with an offer to be bumped to a later flight for credit. We used the credit to visit Paris, for less than the value we received! Thanks to having only carry-on luggage, we were only mildly inconvenienced (somehow wound up on our originally scheduled flight back to DCA), and had an amazing Parisian vacation in October (with lots of shopping on Rue du FBG Saint-Honoré at Hermes, Chanel, and Louboutin that was accommodated by a spare carry-on)!

    • Now this is music to my ears! July is Reykjavik is BEAUTIFUL! I remember leaving the cinema a 2:00am and it was still daylight. If I’m traveling for a week or so, I always volunteer to get bumped. The perks are often worth it. PARISSSSS! Hermés, Chanel, Louboutin oh my! I have even packed my purchases (with boxes) in the same carry-on. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I truly appreciate you!

  7. Jamithia

    I truly enjoyed reading this blog. With this being my first year traveling since the pandemic I need all the pointers I can get. Thank you!

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