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    If You’re Only Bringing A Carry-On On Vacation, You Should Pack These 15 Items

    No checked bag; no problem.

    1. A waterproof Kindle so you can take as many books as you want on your trip without having your carry-on ONLY be books. Plus, you can take your reading anywhere, yes, even INTO the pool. This is a game changer.

    the author sitting in a pool with the kindle in her hand
    gif of the kindle in the water showing how it's waterproof
    Abby Kass / BuzzFeed

    ^ Yes, that is me sitting in a pool in Hawaii holding my Kindle over the water without fear or stress that if it falls in, it will break. Truly living my best life.

    Promising review: "I LOVE reading and being able to access a book anywhere with this thing. It is easy to navigate, very easy to read and adjust the brightness or how warm the light is. It doesn't auto adjust, but I don't need that feature. I've read in bright sunlight to dark rooms, and it's always been so clear. You can adjust the font and use the library to search whatever books you want. Makes packing books for traveling very easy. Battery life lasts me two weeks if I'm reading every day for a few hours. You have to have internet and it only shows books. This is not a tablet to surf the internet or use other apps on." —R@L0

    Get it from Amazon for $139.99 (available in 8 and 16 GB sizes).

    2. A set of packing cubes — once you use them, you'll wonder how you've lived this long without them in your life. They help keep your clothes organized and allow you to pack more in your suitcase. Now that's a win-win.

    Promising review: "I travel frequently and travel light. My luggage is usually limited to a backpack that slides under the airline seat. For a two-week European cruise, I added a carry-on rolling suitcase. I've used these packing cubes twice so far, and I am hooked. One cube holds everything (including clothing) I take on a three-night trip. The cube slides into my pack, saving massive amounts of room, and everything is easy to find during travel and at the hotel. Taking out one cube and unzipping is much better than digging through a pack! I will never leave home without these!" —Gura

    Get a set of four from Amazon for $21.99 (available in 10 colors).

    3. Or a set of space-saver bags if you're looking to squeeeeze as much into your carry-on as humanly possible. One reviewer was able to take a 10-day trip to Europe with only a carry-on because of these. Color me impressed! 

    one space saver bag with clothes on top and then another with the clothes inside, showing how much smaller it makes the clothes
    reviewer image of the bags being used in a suitcase

    Promising review: "These were lifesavers! We took a 10-day trip to Europe and were able to pack only in a carry on using these! I used two medium in my carry-on and my husband used three in his carry-on. I packed all my undergarments, five dresses, four jeans, multiple blouses, three pairs of shorts and a few other pieces of clothing. And still had room for my shoes. These will definitely be used each time we travel now. Well worth it." —Amazon Customer

    Get a pack of eight from Amazon for $15.47 (also available four other pack sizes).

    4. *OR* a Stow-N-Go travel organizer with built-in shelves you can pack every single outfit in. When you arrive at your hotel you simply take it out of your suitcase, hang it in the closet, and you'll be G2G for the whole trip.

    reviewer image of packing cube with clothes in it
    packing cube hanging up in closet

    Plus, it has a zipper compartment at the bottom you can put all your dirty clothes in, so they don't get mixed together and you end up just washing everything when you get home (bc that's usually what happens to me).

    Promising review: "I just love it. I travel a lot. Now I don’t have to hang anything up but my organizer. I can see what I pack and where everything is. Just love it. I can fit easy seven days' worth of outfits and three pairs of shoes in a carry-on suitcase. Just great." —Amazon Customer

    Get it from Amazon for $27.59+ (available in two sizes and six colors).

    5. And some laundry soap sheets great to have on hand when you realize the shirt you were planning on wearing again got a liiiitle too sweaty while you were exploring in the heat. You'll be able to give your clothes a quick wash in the sink so they're ready to go the next day.

    Promising review: "This stuff is awesome. I take it everywhere! We travel a lot, and it's perfect for all sorts of reasons! It was very useful on our trip to Israel where I ended up doing laundry in our hotel sink almost every night because of the dust. The packaging is very small and for as much as I have used this traveling, I haven't run out yet!" —Mia Bauer

    Get it from Amazon for $9.73.

    6. A strap you can attach to your luggage to hold your personal item or other items that are too big or awkward to pack (i.e. coat, scarf, neck pillow). Then when you get to your destination you can continue using it to clip your coat or scarf to your bag in case you get cold. 

    The black strap attaching a backpack to a suitcase
    collage of pictures showing how the strap can be used to secure a lot of different travel items
    Amazon

    Promising review: "I love this little gadget. I used it to attach my jacket and computer bag to my luggage on an extended business trip. It made my airport walks so much easier. Now that I'm back home, I've been using it daily to attach my jacket or cardigan to my work bag or purse." —Michele

    Get it from Amazon for $8.49+ (available in nine colors and pack sizes).

    7. A set of six Cadence containers here to revolutionize the way you bring your travel-sized products with you. These lil' cuties are SO useful — they hold a surprising amount of product, are magnetic, and have a removable label you can customize so you don't accidentally put body wash in your hair because you can't remember which container has your shampoo in it. Plus, you can even use them to hold jewelry or even medication!

    set of seven green small containers with little illustrations on the front
    Cadence

    Cadence is an AAPI woman-owned small business that was founded by Steph Hon as a way to eliminate single-use travel-sized plastics. The containers are made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. 

    I have a set of four of these, and, wow, I love them so much. I used them on a six-day trip, and they were perfect. I customized the label so I knew which one was my shampoo vs. conditioner and did a general label for any other things I wanted to bring along. They do hold a surprising amount. According to the brand, they hold approximately one to two weeks of skincare products, more than two weeks' worth of serum, two to three days' worth of haircare, and more than 15 tablets (for medicine and such). And while two to three days worth of haircare might not seem like enough, I found it held more than that for me, but I also don't wash my hair every single day. They were small enough to slip right into my toiletries bag and go through TSA with no problem. The container was easy to open in the shower (even with wet hands), and I had no leakage from them (like I did from my face wash bottle that will not be making the trip with me next time. SMH). These are an incredibly useful tool anyone who travels will want in their luggage. 

    Get a set of six from Cadence for $84

    8. Or a 16-piece travel toiletries set filled with everything you need to bring your hair, skin, and makeup products with you. No need to go waste any money on the expensive travel-sized versions of your go-to products. This set will make it super easy to transfer the right amount to comply with those pesky TSA rules. And as a bonus, everything fits right into the included compact bag!

    The set comes with four bottles, four jars, two spray bottles, two scoopers (to help transfer creams), one funnel (to help transfer liquids), one cleaning brush, a page of labels, and a bag that everything fits in.  

    Promising review: "I’ve purchased a lot of different travel sets for my toiletries over the years. Inevitably, they are hard to fill and tend to leak. This set was magic! The wide mouth made it easy to fill from a larger bottle, and the little scoops made transferring creams to the jar containers very easy and with much less mess. The only con (hardly worth mentioning) is that once you squeeze the bottle, it takes a few minutes to expand with air again, so the sides are a bit sunken. I solved that by unscrewing the top just a bit for a quick release of the vacuum pressure. I had no leaks, and plenty of containers for every toiletry." —MDC

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in four colors). 

    9. A Hackwith Design House shirt actually made to be worn six different ways. This fact alone makes it a great shirt to travel with. But you're going to like the styles so much that I can pretty much guarantee you'll wear it more than once during your trip.

    a model wearing the black long-sleeved wrap top in three ways: off the shoulder, tied in the front with a square neck, and tied in the back with a V-neck in front
    Hackwith Design House

    Hackwith Design House is a woman-owned small business that creates made-to-order apparel. This shirt can be worn as a V-neck, off-the-shoulder, boatneck, V-back, and even open as a jacket. And the color is simple, which means it can be paired well with many different bottoms. 

    BuzzFeed Shopping Editor Chelsea Stuart says: "I have this shirt and I *love* it. All credit for its discovery goes to TikToker @jennifer.bianca who I happened to stumble across on my FYP. It checks all my boxes: black, comfortable, versatile, and durable. My initial worry was that I wouldn't feel secure in it (I have a 38DDD chest and most wrap tops/dresses I've tried haven't stayed where they're supposed to), but I haven't had an issue with this! I've worn it tied in the front giving me a square neck (like the middle picture) and tied in the back giving me a V-neck up front (just like the photo on the right) — both were super comfortable, and I didn't have to adjust myself at all. As someone whose weight fluctuates, I also appreciate that this piece can handle pounds gained and lost. The fabric is medium weight, so I'll be wearing it season to season, and there's just enough elasticity in the arms that if you roll up your sleeves, they won't fall back down. All that is to say trust that I will be buying additional colors!"

    Get it from Hackwith Design House for $145 (available in women's sizes XS–4X and in five colors). 

    10. A 2-in-1 hair tool you can switch from a curling iron to a straightener with one push of a button. This means you only need to add one hair tool to your luggage, but you'll have the option to curl or straighten your hair the whole trip (because it's always a good thing to have options).

    the curling iron and straightener
    reviewer showing how straight their hair got using this tool

    Promising review: "Don't be fooled by the tiny price or size, this little baby is serious. If you are looking for a small travel option rather than lugging your big straightener and giant curling iron around the world, than I think you'll love this. It performs really well, turning my frizzy wavy hair into a smooth and sleek style. The curling iron option also creates shiny, silky lasting curls! It's easy to transition between both. I also like the grippy handle and the fact that the curling iron clip is a different color than the straightening bars because that helps me see how I should be maneuvering it around. The voltage goes up to 240m, so you are good using it internationally without a converter (but you will need an adapter just to fit it into various foreign outlets). At this price, definitely give it a try and flaunt your tresses abroad." —Christine

    Get it from Amazon for $39.99 (available in two colors).

    11. A pocket-sized, refillable travel perfume atomizer so you can easily transfer your signature scent to bring it with you. Plus, it's so small that you'll probably just end up keeping it in your bag when you're not traveling for a little refresh while you're out and about.

    atomizer pumping on a perfume bottle
    Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

    BuzzFeed Shopping Editor Elizabeth Lilly says, "That's me pumping my signature perfume into one of these travel atomizers I've been using for about a year. As the reviewer below mentions, it's great to just throw in your purse on the reg for a fragrance re-up throughout the day. As you can see, it's about the size of my thumb and therefore takes up very little room. Plus! It's smaller than most rollerball travel fragrances you can pick up. This first one is working so well, that I just have the other three in storage. But if this one bites the dust this summer during travels, I'll be OK about digging into my stores to use one of the remaining three...especially at this price point." 

    Promising review: "These work so great. Love it!!! I put my favorite perfumes in each one. When I wear a perfume I put the matching one to the perfume I’m wearing for the day in my purse. So I can freshen up my scent later! I like to smell pretty all day!!! They are small and compact but hold enough before you have to refill as well." —Nikki

    Get a four-pack from Amazon for $7.99.

    12. A portable rain hood you can wear with any jacket so you don't have to try and pack both your cute and practical jackets when you're tight on space.

    model showing the hood attached to the inside of a trench coat
    the model with a jacket open, showing how the hood goes under the arms to attach it
    Amazon

    All it is is a hood attached to a vest you wear under *any* jacket to protect yourself (and your hair) from whatever the weather has planned.

    Promising review: "I love this! The quality is very nice and it fits great. Wore it last week in the rain with a coat I love that doesn't have a hood and it was perfect. It slips right under your jacket so all you see is the hood, so it pretty much blends in with your jacket. Such a great idea! Wish there were more colors and patterns, I'd order more." —Jill Hammel

    Get it from Amazon for $29 (available in two sizes).

    13. A flying USB port with four places to plug in all your cords so you only need one plug in your bedroom to keep all your electronics (phone, watch, tablet, etc.) at 100% during your whole trip. 

    white usb-port with four slots that looks like a plane
    Multitasky

    Multitasky is a woman-founded and -run small business that began in 2020 as a way for founder Julia Xu to create products that were both functional and cute. 

    Promising review: "It does as it says it does, allowing my Dell XPS15 to operate a pair of USB devices from my lightning port! The laptop has two USB ports, one of which is always occupied by my USB mouse dongle and the other by my protected USB drive. If I wanted to plug in my phone to switch data or add another thumb drive to transfer a device, everything might have to be disconnected, but not anymore. It was really worth it." —Liberty

    Get it from Multitasky for $25 (available in three colors). 

    14. Subtl Beauty Stack, so you can keep up to *eight* makeup products in one convenient stack. You can customize your picks and stack anything from blurring face powders to brilliant lip and cheek tints! And while it's a great travel companion, you'll prob find yourself using it on the day-to-day, too.

    a stack of makeup essentials
    a gif of a closeup of whats inside the stack

    Promising review: "I absolutely love how compact this product is. I have been pleasantly surprised at how natural the makeup feels and I love the natural look it provides. I originally purchased it for traveling, but have been using it daily and love it!" –Paula Bowie

    Get the Starter Stack from Subtl Beauty for $60 (available in 17 tones), or customize your own stack starting at $12 per layer.