I'm a Carry-On Devotee—I Swear By These 5 Easy-to-Pack Pieces When Traveling

Welcome to Before I Head Out, a monthly series in which fashion editor Anneliese Dominguez rounds up the snaps she's taken of her favorite outfits before heading out the door of her Los Angeles apartment (or in this case, her friend's London flat).

I've heard horror story after horror story about airlines losing friends' luggage all across the world. And while I like the idea of having to shop immediately once I arrive somewhere (as long as there's a local Zara, I'm in heaven), I'd really prefer to have my things. So last year before our two-week honeymoon, my husband and I declared ourselves carry-on–only vacationers. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent trip to Europe, and believe it or not, no bags were checked. Before I left, I made a Powerpoint of all the outfits I planned to wear throughout my trip. (Yes, I am type A—how'd you know?) My secret is to find easy-to-pack pieces that I'll wear throughout the trip so no official outfit repeating happens but each piece has multiple uses. And after my last trip, I nailed these pieces down. Ready to see what I've declared must-haves whenever I travel? Keep scrolling.

The Just-in-Case Layer + Crossbody Bag


(Image credit: @annadzhenderson)

My first two must-haves are things that you actually don't even need to pack in your suitcase because you can wear them on the plane. Even if I'm going to a climate where I don't think I'll need a jacket, I always bring a little something because you just never know. I like my oversize faux-leather blazer because it can easily elevate my look if I'm going out to dinner and need something to wear on the walk over. And if you don't own a crossbody bag for day-to-day life, fine. But if you don't own a crossbody bag that comes out on your travels, what are you doing? Sure, you may only be allowed one personal item and a carry-on onboard, but I always sneak my crossbody on. Just slide it under your layer when walking through the gate. A crossbody is also essential for busy days spent exploring your destination.

Shop Layers

Shop Crossbody Bags

The-Goes-With-Everything Sneaker


(Image credit: @annadzhenderson)

I always bring a pair of neutral sneakers with me and usually wear them onto the plane. As much as I'd like to think I could run around London in my cute summer sandals, the reality is that we're walking 15,000 steps a day, and my feet would quite literally be destroyed after one day. Luckily, sneakers are a fashion-person staple, and you'll get plenty of compliments in a pair of It girl–approved Sambas or New Balances.

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The Dress-It-Up or Dress-It-Down Dress


(Image credit: @annadzhenderson)

I love dresses more than I love any other article of clothing, so I have lots of options to choose from whenever I'm packing. When I'm choosing which dresses to throw in my suitcase, I always choose something that I know will look cute with any of the shoes I'm bringing. That way, I don't need to change outfits from day to night—I just switch my shoes! Sneakers for a day of sightseeing and strappy heels for alfresco dinner. Done, and done.

Pajama-But-Not-Pajama Pants


(Image credit: @annadzhenderson)

While I do love my jeans, I usually opt for lightweight pants in the summer since they're easy to pack and comfortable AF. (Can you tell I'm all about comfort when I'm traveling?) These cargo pants were the ultimate pair. They were breezy, had an adjustable waistband so I could eat my way through the city, and looked incredibly cool. Trousers and linen pants are also very good options. (I packed both.) Pants that aren't jeans are an easy way to quickly elevate a look without really having to try.

Up next: You've Got Plans, and I've Got Outfits—5 Looks You Can Wear for Summer Events

Anneliese Henderson
Senior Editor, Branded Content

Anneliese Henderson is a Los Angeles–based senior editor on the branded content team at Who What Wear where she covers the latest in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. When she’s not writing about her favorite trends, you can find her reading a book by the beach or spending money on overpriced smoothies at Erewhon.