Travel light: A modern man's guide to packing a week's worth of clothes in a carry-on bag

carry-on bag with sneakers and sunglasses

Planning a getaway and wondering how to pack all your essentials in carry-on luggage? Look no further! The 4-3-2-1 rule is a proven method for packing efficiently and ensuring that you don't overpack for your trip. By sticking to this rule, you'll have a variety of options to choose from without overwhelming yourself with too many clothes, creating a travel capsule wardrobe. 

The 4-3-2-1 rule states that you should pack: 

  • 4 tops (shirts, polos, t-shirts, etc.) 
  • 3 bottoms (pants, shorts, etc.) 
  • 2 shoes (sneakers, slides) 
  • 1 dressy outfit (blazer, chinos, dress shoes) 
summer outfit inspiration male flatlay

Keep all the accessories neutral and choose mostly neutral coloured clothes (beige, navy, white, khaki, black) just adding in a couple of pops of colour, this will help you achieve the maximum number of outfits out of the least amount of clothes. 

By sticking to this rule, you'll have a variety of options to choose from without overwhelming yourself with too many clothes. Additionally, you can mix and match the items you've packed to create different outfits, which will help you make the most of the limited space in your carry-on. 

When it comes to packing your clothes, fold them the width and the depth of the base of the bag (the side that has wheels). Then instead of packing them the traditional way, sit your bag upright and stack them high like pancakes, working your way from the bottom (where the wheels are) to the top (where the handle is). This will give you about 30% more space and it means you can easily identify each piece when you open your luggage.  

To make the most of the limited space in your carry-on, you'll want to pack your heavier items at the bottom of your bag and your lighter items on top. In addition to clothes, you'll also need to pack other essentials such as toiletries and electronics. To save space, consider using travel-sized toiletries and packing a small toiletry bag. Be sure to also pack any chargers and adapters you may need for your electronics, and try to limit the number of devices you bring with you. 

When it comes to shoes, you'll want to pack the ones that you'll be wearing on the plane and then two additional pairs to make 20 outfits. Try to choose shoes that are versatile and can be worn with multiple outfits, a dressier sneaker, slides instead of thongs etc. Try to avoid packing heavy shoes that take up a lot of space, or shoes you will only wear once. 

Lastly, don’t forget to think about the destination you are going to, and pack accordingly. If you are going to a cold destination, pack a jacket and some warm clothes, if you are going to a sunny destination, pack light clothes and sunscreen, if you want to work out (good for you) pack some workout gear too in addition to the above. 

Packing for a week-long trip using only a carry-on bag is totally doable! By following the 4-3-2-1 rule, stacking your clothes, packing travel-size toiletries, and using packing cubes, you'll be able to fit everything you need into your bag without having to check it or worrying about your luggage. This guide on how to pack clothes for a week away using only carry-on luggage and referencing the 4-3-2-1 rule will help you to have a stylish and stress-free trip. 


Catching a flight soon? Let our stylists set up your luggage for success. Take your style quiz, order a parcel and ask your stylist for some carry-on-friendly styles. Sit back and receive five items to try on comfortably at home. Test them out in your luggage, and imagine yourself wearing your new clothes while you jet set.

Keep what you love and send back the rest. Shipping and returns are always free. 

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