Carry-on Packing List for Urban and Luxury Travel

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A packing cluster.

Traveling with only a carry-on can be a challenge.

Carry-on packing for a more upscale trip or a cruise, when fashion is important to you, can be even more so.

Our standard Bare Minimum Packing post is hugely popular but it’s based on the casual kind of travel I typically do. To offer you a carry-on packing list for a more luxurious trip – one that works in an urban landscape – I went to Maegan Watson for some input. She’s the founder of the wardrobe-building firm My Dear Watson.

Not surprisingly she has lots of luxury packing ideas as well as specific recommendations for the type of clothes and accessories you should pack. Here’s her advice for pulling it all together…

The key to ensuring that the contents of your suitcase blend well together is to focus on basics and stick to a neutral color palette with one or two pops of color. I love creating my clients packing clusters so I can ensure that each item packed goes with at least two other items in the suitcase.

Packing for travel to fashionable Manhattan.

Carry-on Packing List for Urban, Luxury & Cruise Travel

This list is good for a week-long trip or longer if you take advantage of the laundry services at your destination.


  • Outerwear – In most places you’ll need something for the evening and cool days. Your outerwear doesn’t get packed but is worn or carried onto the plane.

Maegan recommends:

The Classic Alpaca Cape from Cuyana at $195 is the ultimate versatile piece! Capes are so lovely on and they are great for keeping warm on the plane and wearing as your cold-weather coat.

A less expensive option: The Fine Woven Alpaca Wool Cape on Amazon for $79.99.

  • Footwear – Take a maximum of 3 pairs of shoes counting the ones you wear – a pair of boots, a pair of shoes and a third pair for the pool or beach.

Maegan recommends:

These are my go-to boots for travel. I pair them with pants and dresses. Regular $119. On sale for $75.98 when I updated this post.

Aquatalia Riding boot: These boots are great because they are comfortable- meaning they can be your sightseeing all-day boot and they are waterproof- rain snow or shine you will be safe with these on. They’re beautiful but at $500 they’re a little expensive.

A less expensive option: My Anne Klein ankle boots. I’ve walked a lot of travel miles in these boots. Leather uppers with a rubber sole that makes them slip-free. They are a nice option for pairing under pants as well as with dresses.

  • Bottoms – One pair of jeans that are casual enough for day but dressy enough for night, a skirt and a pair of yoga pants. Wear what’s most comfortable on the plane.

Maegan recommends

Lululemon align pant: If you’re going to wear yoga pants these are the ones to wear. They can double as a workout pant and a legging as the logo is nicely hidden. The material dries quickly so washing and wearing multiple times is just fine. (I understand that everyone isn’t comfortable in a legging type pant but these are perfect for wearing with long tunics and sweaters during travel if you plan to workout or hike during your trip)

  • Tops – One shirt-style blouse, one sweater, three t-shirts and a dressy top. Both of Meagan’s recommendations can be dressed up or down.

Maegan recommends

Everlane Silk blouse: A silk blouse in a dark color is a great staple. Wear it alone or under sweaters. I choose this one because the fit and material is beautiful. I recommend silk because it’s warm (but not hot) and a quick hang in the bathroom during a shower and the wrinkles will come right out. Also, the dark color can be spot cleaned when necessary. A silk blouse at this price point is very, very hard to find. There are other brands, of course, but not that perform well. (cuyana, jcrew, etc).

Update: We received a question regarding the fact that it’s recommended that the Everlane Silk Blouse be dry cleaned. Maegan replied: “I’m very against dry-cleaning 🙂 I should have put this in the post. I use this wash to wash my silks. It’s made for items that are dry clean only. (I also use their wash for the sweaters). I have this exact blouse and have washed it many times. I even washed it in the sink without the wash and it came out just fine.

  • One Dress – A dress is a really comfortable option for day or night.

Maegan recommends

Mott 50 dresses for warm destinations: These dresses don’t get the slightest wrinkle making them perfect for wearing on the plane and going straight to your first adventure. They are lightweight, breathable and UPF 50. So versatile they look great over a bathing suit or alone for a nice dinner.

Knit dress by Maeve For evening wear I had to be creative as I usually customize my recommendations. Maeve dresses tend to be quite practical as you can easily dress them up or down. This beautiful fit and flare in navy will work on a variety of body types and transition out of your suitcase seamlessly.

  • Accessories – A long pendant necklace to wear over the cape, blouse, or a sweater, stud earrings, and a watch.

Technology and Toiletry Essentials

These are the basics from our standard Bare Minimum Packing list.

  • All paperwork: hotel confirmations, flight information, passport and travel insurance info
  • Global plugin adapter
  • eReader – Kindle, Kobo, iPad (whatever you use)
  • Journal and pen
  • Computer and ac adapter. I use my iPad and a keyboard that also acts as a cover.
  • Phone and charger
  • Camera and charger (I have the Lumix G)
  • SD card connector. This allows me to back up the photos from my camera onto my iPad.
  • Prescription medication, vitamins, supplements, water bottle
  • Tiny first aid kit
  • Conditioner, hair product, face cream, makeup, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, brush, razor, shaving soap
  • A couple of resealable plastic bags

Last updated: 20th March, 2018


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