Northside SF
The Stylehound
Traveling with carry-on: The only way to go
Many years ago after my luggage was lost I started traveling with nothing but carry-on. I realized having my luggage with perhaps limited choices was better than no luggage at all. But since perfecting the art of carry-on, my options are wonderful and creative and not limited at all. Here are some of my tips on how to carry this off.

Because you will not be paying checked luggage fees anymore you can invest in some good luggage. I like the Tumi soft-sided Voyageur line. It’s light, expands, has good compartments, and holds quite a lot. At 20½ inches long it fits nicely in the overhead. Your second piece should be some kind of tote or backpack that fits under the seat. I like the matching tote for the Tumi Voyageur. Remember, your under-the-seat tote or backpack is your second piece, so women will need to put handbags in their tote or suitcase.

I give lots of talks on packing. People are always concerned with how I put the pieces into the luggage. I don’t have the magic bullet for this. There are lots of methods and all work well. I like to roll items and make a bottom layer and then fold flat the bulky pieces on the top layer. Put your energy into selecting what you are packing, not how you are packing.

I think shoes are the most important item because if your feet hurt your trip is basically ruined. Usually three pair for both men and women are enough – one for walking and sightseeing, one for night that is dressier, and one in-between style that can be an alternate for either day or night. Obviously if you are going to the beach or hiking you might need flip-flops or hiking boots. You can work around these special items and maybe take four pair as necessary.

After you have your shoes, think about what jacket or coat will coordinate. I try to have one color story: If my most comfortable shoes are brown, then my outerwear will go with brown. You do not need to pack several coats or jackets – usually one carefully chosen jacket is enough.

Now you have your shoes and basic color. To help figure out how many other items you need, consider whether you will be changing clothing for nighttime activities.

Here are some good items to pack:

Four tops for every bottom.

Dark-colored bottoms are more practical than lighter.

Jeans are useful; they don’t show dirt and are worn worldwide.

T-shirts and knits are more practical than woven cotton or silk shirts and blouses.

Accessories help make interesting outfits. I especially like scarves and costume jewelry. One daytime and one small nighttime handbag is enough.

Shoes with a rubber sole or street sneakers are good for daytime. Don’t pack athletic tennis shoes for street wear.

Pieces that can be worn day or night are wonderful. For men it might be khaki pants and a polo shirt; for women dark slacks or a skirt and a fun t-shirt. Lots of items are versatile and can be worn both casually and dressed up depending on accessories.

Cropped pants for women work well because they can be worn with flats, heels or street sneakers.

Polo shirts for men are excellent – they don’t wrinkle and can be worn day into night.

Matching pieces and colors are better than items that have only one use.

A wool or cashmere cardigan for both men and women can be useful.

Think about what you are packing in advance so you can coordinate all the pieces – don’t wait for the last minute. Try these tips, and you will feel completely liberated from luggage fees, look stylish with fewer items, and be a happy traveler.
Micki Turner is a Bay Area image consultant and can be reached at

March 2012
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