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Your Ultimate Holiday Carry-On Packing List

Jul 02,2024

Holiday carry-on packing list blog cover image with ombre print swimsuit, blue denim shorts and white sandals
Let's be real, if you could take your whole wardrobe on holiday, you totally would. But when you’ve decided to save time and pennies, opting for hand luggage only, the thought of sacrificing outfits isn’t ideal. But what if we told you that you didn’t have to?

If you’re travelling light, we’re here to help you with what to pack in a carry-on to make sure you have plenty of outfits to last you your whole holiday. Whether it’s a weekend break or a 2-week escape, the trick is to pack a small selection of versatile items of clothing you can mix and match for endless outfit options. 

When packing your holiday clothes into a cabin bag, it’s all about the power of 3 – 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 3 dresses, and 3 swimsuits. Do it right, and you’ll have at least 21 holiday outfit choices. 

You’ll want to choose items that all work together, so all 3 tops should go with all 3 bottoms, pair shoes to each item of clothing, and so on. Plus, don't forget to consider the different types of outfits you’ll need for any plans – like a comfortable look for a day out exploring and something a little more dressy for your sunset glam. 

Wondering how to make this work with minimal space? Keep reading for our ultimate holiday capsule with a packing list that’ll fit everything you need in your carry-on. 


For your 3 tops, we’d recommend sticking to a neutral colour palette for options that will likely go with any one of your bottoms. Choose a versatile layering piece like a lightweight shirt that doubles as a beach cover up and pieces that work whether you dress them up or down. 

Models posing in a white oversized shirt and black bandeau topWhite oversized shirt | Black bandeau top
Model posing in a beige rib waistcoatBeige rib knit waistcoat


When it comes to bottoms, it only makes sense to have 1 pair of trousers, 1 skirt and a pair of shorts, making sure they go with your tops. Here, you can throw in a more statement piece of clothing for a day to night look. Choose materials like linen and chiffon that you can also wear as bikini cover ups by the pool.  

Models posing in white linen look trousers and blue denim shortsLinen look wide leg trousers | Blue distressed denim shorts
Model posing in a blue abstract print midi skirtAbstract print co-ord maxi skirt


Your holiday dresses only really need to go with your shoes, so mix it up with 3 different lengths and play with a combination of casual and glam styles for daytime looks and evening clothes. 

Models posing in a black long sleeve smock dress and ombre cowl neck dressBlack long sleeve smock dress | Ombre satin cowl neck maxi dress
White crochet halterneck midaxi dressWhite halter neck knit midi dress


If it's a holiday destination where swimwear is essential, go for bikinis that you can mix and match. A staple black bikini set with a printed set will give you 4 options, then add in a swimsuit to switch up your style. 

Models posing in an ombre print high waist bikini set and a black bralette bikini setOmbre bandeau bikini top + High waisted bikini bottoms | Black contour rib square neck bikini top + High leg high waist bikini bottoms
Model posing in a sage green stripe halterneck swimsuitSage green strip halter neck swimsuit


For saving space, 2 pairs of shoes will be plenty. Consider the type of holiday you’re on to make sure you’re prepared, with a selection that includes neutral everyday sandals and low heels for elevated evening outfits. 

White cross over sandals on model and low block tan heeled mules on modelWhite cross strap sandals | Tan cross strap heeled mules


We couldn’t forget accessories and having at least 2 pieces of jewellery will give you enough variation to switch up your looks. Along with one bag and your favourite pair of sunglasses, you’ll be sorted. 

Model holding woven beach bag and black rectangle sunglassesBlack rectangle tinted sunglasses | Large winged beach bag

Gold chunky hoop earrings and coloured hoop earrings
Chunky gold hoop earrings
| Coloured diamante hoop earrings

Once your outfits are sorted, all that’s left is your toiletries and any electronics. Follow our holiday packing list and your next trip will be easier than ever!  

Find all your holiday essentials and outfits in our women's holiday clothing and accessories shop

From the In The Style Team x