How to Pack for a Week in Hawaii in a Carry On

Neutral Backpack || Silk Sleep Mask || Hard-side Carry On Bag || Turkish Towel || Double Strap Sandals || Palm Print Swimsuit || Kashi Granola Bars || Crazy Rich Asians Book || Pink Suede Hat

Today’s post is a little different, but because I am leaving for Oahu, Hawaii on Thursday and consider myself something of a minimalist packing expert, I thought I would share some of the things I plan to bring on my trip! I made a packing list weeks in advance to make sure I didn’t forget anything, plus I found a ton of cute essential items for the trip that I had to share with you all. Packing for a week long (or more) trip in just a carry on can be tricky, but if you plan ahead and do some research it can definitely be done!

Carry On Packing Tips:

  • Summer trips to tropical places tend to be the easiest to pack for since the temperature only ranges from about 70-90 degrees during the day and night, so most all of your clothing can be lightweight and small.
  • The easiest way to travel light is with a carry on bag and a backpack. I like to use this inexpensive, hard-sided, clam-shell style carry on bag since it allows you to pack in fewer layers which makes it easier to organize your items. I also just purchased this neutral color backpack which can be used as a beach bag, on hikes, and as your under the seat item.
  • Packing separates in neutral colors or similar color schemes helps you to mix and match items over the week. On this trip, I plan to stick to white, black, light blue, pink, and dark green.
  • Packing hats can be tricky since you don’t want to crush them. Stack your hats inside one another, place them upside down in the carry on, and then fill the inside with socks. Finish by packing clothing around them for support.
  • The easiest place to add bulk to your luggage is with shoes. Try to stick to three pairs or less, one of which you will wear on the plane.
  • Stuff socks and underwear into your shoes and boots to use every possible space.
  • Make more clothing fit into the suitcase by rolling all of your shirts, dresses, pants, and shorts.
  • Put your liquids and laptop in your backpack to make it easy to find them when you have to take them out at security.
  • To make packing light easier, make sure to put your clothes away into the closet and drawers when you get to your destination if you can. It will make you feel more organized and less chaotic trying to find everything crammed in to a small suitcase.

For a 7-9 day trip to Oahu, Hawaii in July, these are the things I plan to pack organized by bag.

Wear on the plane:

  • Comfy tee shirt
  • Leggings
  • Sweatshirt
  • Tennis shoes

Carry on bag:

  • 3 Swimsuits
  • 7 Casual Tees
  • 2 Pair of cute shorts
  • 2 Active tops
  • 2 Pair of active shorts
  • 5 Dresses (one nicer one for a night out)
  • Light cardigan sweater
  • Good walking sandals
  • Cute sandals
  • Wide brimmed hat
  • Baseball hat
  • 2 PJ sets
  • 7 Pairs of socks
  • Underwear
  • Sport bra, strapless bra
  • Curling iron
  • Hair dryer (I’m not staying in a hotel)
  • Camera and charger
  • Small cross-body purse
  • Small, soft-sided cooler
  • Casual jewelry
  • Makeup bag – makeup, deoderant, razor, toothbrush, hair ties, bobby pins


  • Turkish towel (rolls up very small and can be used as a beach towel or as a blanket on the plane)
  • Liquid toiletries in a clear bag – face sunscreen, body sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, face wash, toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 Books
  • Silk sleep mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Headphones
  • Phone and changer
  • Small laptop and charger
  • Large water bottle
  • Plastic bags for phone at the beach
  • Wallet
  • Playing cards
  • Airplane snacks – almonds, dried fruit, granola bars

5 thoughts on “How to Pack for a Week in Hawaii in a Carry On

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