I Traveled to Italy With Only a Carry-On—21 Fashion Pieces That Made the Cut


(Image credit: @ladhav)

I normally always travel with a carry-on, but with all the recent reports of checked bags being lost and the chaos of summer travel hitting every airport, I've doubled down on my position. I'm not taking any chances! Or at least I told myself that until I tried to pack for an eight-day vacation to Italy. Let me tell you: It was a process of editing everything down to make sure everything fit in my Away carry-on. You might be thinking there's no way I was able to pack 21 pieces, but I assure you it's the truth. Everything was lightweight and thin for the high temperatures, so it all rolled up without taking up much room at all. And I was able to bring five pairs of shoes because most of the sandals were packed flat. No vacuum-seal bags needed here!

Since getting back (sadly all vacations must come to an end), I think I pretty much nailed the packing situation because only one item went unworn. Not to brag, but that might be a record for me. The schedule was Rome for four days (I definitely recommend staying at the W Hotel while you're there!), Naples for one, and Sorrento for three. If you're thinking of traveling to Italy or packing for a country with similar weather this time of year, here's everything that made the cut in my small but mighty suitcase. 

Maxi Dress + Sneakers


(Image credit: @ladhav)

This is one of my most cherished Dôen dresses as it works for dressy and casual occasions—and has generous stretch for when you eat way too much pasta. I happened to wear this to the first dinner reservation in Rome at Trattoria al Moro by the Trevi Fountain but paired it with Converse so I wouldn't trip up on the very uneven cobblestone streets. 

Linen Shorts + White Tank + Flip-Flops


(Image credit: @ladhav)

It was definitely hot outside, so a pair of lightweight linen shorts, a muscle tank, and flip-flops were great items to wear in one outfit and versatile enough to wear with other pieces I brought. 

I stayed at the W Rome, which is located in the Via Veneto area and just a short walk away from the shops by the Spanish Steps. It was really the perfect location—especially because I knew I would be hitting up some designer stores. After stopping at Prada, I ended up splurging on some Miu Miu ballet flats to bring back with me. 

Boxer Shorts + Short-Sleeve Button-Down


(Image credit: @ladhav)

The next day I trekked from the hotel to the cute neighborhood of Trastevere in some striped boxer shorts from Entireworld (R.I.P.), a striped short-sleeve tee, and one of the two bags I brought for the whole trip. This one is from IMAGO-A.

Again, since many of the clothes I brought were super thin to prepare for temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, they took up minimal space in my carry-on. (Traveling in the winter would be a totally different story...) 

Tailored Shorts + Printed Tee + Loafers


(Image credit: @ladhav)

The most comfortable loafers I've ever worn are these ones from M. Gemi—I'm not even exaggerating. I walked the whole day around the Forum, the Colosseum, the neighborhood of Monti, and all the way back uptown in them with zero blisters. 

I brought this terrycloth shirt from Solid + Striped and these Everlane shorts to keep things casual for an entire day of getting my steps in. 

Breezy Long-Sleeve + Wide-Leg Jeans


(Image credit: @ladhav)

On to Naples! This billowy top was worn on more than one occasion since you can wear it open or button it all the way up. I also rewore my favorite pair of Ética jeans since the wide-leg silhouette ensured the denim wasn't sticking to my skin in the heat, but I could also wear them in the evening when it cooled down. (I almost didn't bring any jeans at all, which would've been a massive mistake.) 

Also, this pizza at Antica Pizzeria Da Michele high-key changed my life. 

Swimsuit + Gold Jewelry


(Image credit: @ladhav)

For the Sorrento and Amalfi Coast portion of the trip, I knew I would just be wearing swimsuits and bring some dresses that would double as a cover-up. This Onia bikini came with me, and I knew my go-to gold jewelry could be worn in the ocean without having to worry about anything coming off. 

Cover-Up + Black Sandals


(Image credit: @ladhav)

I got this oversize Ralph Lauren shirt from the men's section so I could wear it as a dress and throw it on over any swimsuit. It's honestly the best purchase I made for this trip. 

Bold Midi Dress + Net Bag


(Image credit: @ladhav)

Once I saw this Dôen dress online, I knew I needed it. I threw it on over a swimsuit and brought my J. Crew net bag to fit some beach essentials for a day trip to Positano. Of course, what's a stop at Positano without checking out Le Sirenuse Hotel? I made a lunch reservation at its restaurant La Sponda to see the best hillside views of the town and get inspired by the interior design. 

Lacy Tank + Buckled Sandals


(Image credit: @ladhav)

Another Dôen purchase for yet another vacation outfit. This white tank from the label was so pretty and worked for both casual and dressy restaurants. I rewore my jeans with it and grabbed my favorite tan Hereu sandals to walk around Sorrento for the last night. 

Matching Set


(Image credit: @ladhav)

This set from the brand Terry is one of my favorite summer purchases, so I had to fit it in my carry-on. I headed back to Rome since I had to fly out first thing in the morning, but not before grabbing one last drink in a piazza around Bar San Calisto and having the best tiramisu (possibly ever?) at Roscioli Rimessa. 

Next: London Girls Know How to Dress—My Recent Trip There Inspired These 6 Purchases

This post was previously published and has since been updated. 

Lauren Adhav
Freelance Fashion Editor

Lauren Adhav is a freelance fashion editor based in Los Angeles. Originally from Orlando, Florida, she always wanted to work at a fashion magazine. After finally getting an internship at Town & Country in 2015, she moved to New York City and continued to get her footing in the industry with stints at Cosmopolitan, W magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Moda Operandi. In 2017, she returned to Cosmo full time, starting off as the beauty and fashion editorial assistant and working her way to fashion editor. She contributed to both the website and print issues, pitching new ideas, forecasting trends, covering red carpet events, and informing the overall coverage and brand voice.

After five years in NYC, she moved to the West Coast for the sunshine and the change of pace. As a freelance fashion editor, she still contributes to Cosmo and now Who What Wear. She's always trying to get ahead of the next big trend before it goes mainstream and loves discovering fashion brands with a unique point of view (Chopova Lowena, Sandy Liang, and Bode being some of her current favorites). She also spends an unhealthy amount of time online shopping for the perfect piece, and now that she's in L.A., she's rediscovering her soft spot for malls. On the weekends, you can find her walking around the Silver Lake Reservoir, trying to catch up on her tan at Venice Beach, and probably ordering a Chinese chicken salad at Joan's on Third.