How to Pack a Single Carry-on for a Three-day Conference

This past week, I attended a conference for work.  I try to avoid checking luggage whenever possible, so I aimed to pack all of my outfits into a single carry-on.  I was successful!  AND…it was pretty cold where I was going, so I was pretty impressed with myself for traveling with winter-wear and managing to not over-pack or check a bag.

Chic in Academia, http://chicinacademia.comView from my hotel room.  Can you spot the snow flurries?

Here’s how I did it:

1) Pick a comfortable pair of shoes and plan your outfits around them

I chose a pair of super old Marc Jacobs heels that I purchased brand new on eBay for $30 years ago.  They are patent black with cute – not overly obnoxious – bows, which I also know pair well with opaque tights.  Conference rooms in hotels can be super cold, so layering and pants and/or opaque tights are usually a must for me.  The heels have a high-ish heel, but nothing that would make it uncomfortable to walk from room to room, or to stand on my feet several hours a day.

Chic in Academia, http://chicinacademia.comDetails: Heels, Marc Jacobs, similar here and here // Sunnies, here // Necklace, similar here // Lipstick, YSL, here

2) Pick a color, any color!

Because my shoes were black, I decided to go with a black base for all of my outfits.  Hence, I packed the following:

  • 1 black blazer
  • 2 black and white dresses
  • 2 tops (in case I needed options)
  • 2 necklaces
  • 1 pair of earrings
  • 2 pairs of opaque tights (just in case I happened to ruin a pair somehow)

My strategy was to wear my coat on the plane and wear pants that I could wear on my return flight.  So, I packed a second top to wear with those same pants on the way back.  I also wore my second pair of shoes on the plane.  In this case, I wore knee high boots just in case I should happen to need to walk outdoors somewhere, in the snow.

Chic in Academia,

A single carry-on and a tote to carry during the conference.  Oh yes, and my morning coffee. 🙂

Chic in Academia,

Details: Luggage, Alice and Olivia for Target, similar here // Bag, Chanel, similar here

My luggage from the inside.  This photo was actually taken when I got home, but as you can see, my luggage was not over-packed.  The silver bag is a large tote that I like to carry in case I happen to go shopping while traveling and need to carry the excess with me on my way back. 😀  Always best to be prepared!

Chic in Academia,

Details:  Coat, Zara (on sale in stores), similar here // Top, Elizabeth and James via TJ Maxx, similar here// Skinny jeans, Ann Taylor, similar here // Boots, Forever 21, similar here // Chanel Pendant necklace, South Boutique, similar here

No mirrors at the airport to take a full-selfie, so you get a birds-eye view of my outfit! (Photo above)

Chic in Academia,

Details:  Blazer, Zara, similar here // Dress, Salvation Army, similar here // Opaque tights, Hue via Nordstrom Rack, similar here // Watch, Michele (gift), similar here

For the first day, I wore a black and white dress I got at a thrift store for $3 a while back, paired with my favorite Zara blazer.  What makes it my favorite?  The puffed-sleeve.  It balances out my hips! 😀

Chic in Academia,

On the second day of the conference, I chose to wear a dress which required nothing but a statement necklace and cocktail ring to complete the look.

Chic in Academia,

Details:  Dress, H&M, here // Necklace, similar here // Ring, Aldo (BOGO and only $8ish in store), here

Chic in Academia,

Chic in Academia,

Details:  Tops, H&M, here // Necklace, J Crew, similar here

Here, I am wearing the same pants and blazer I wore the first day, paired with a top from H&M.  Same shoes all three days as you can see.  I also wore the second necklace I packed.  You’ll notice I tried on both tops and although I loved the look of the white top, it was a bit too sheer to wear without a tank underneath, so I went with the darker top.  Still works, I think.  What do you think???

An unrelated, but useful tip: Because I chose to work during times when I wasn’t in sessions, I ended up ordering a lot of room service.  Did you know that you can order from the kids menu and not only pay less, but actually get a greater variety of food than when ordering from the adult menu??  I had no idea!  I’ll definitely be doing this from now on!

What are your tricks for packing for work-trips?  I’m always looking for tips and tricks, so feel free to leave any you think might be helpful for me in the comments section below!  Finally, don’t forget to enter the Tory Burch giveaway on my blog!  Details for the giveaway found here.  Ends tomorrow!

Until next time!  Stay ‘Chic’!