The Handbag Packing Masterclass launches again in June!  REGISTER NOW >>

My Packing Goals May Not Be Your Packing Goals (and That’s OK)

my packing goals may not be your packing goals
brooke with her carry-on luggage
With my 25L Antler carry-on suitcase and my Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 Gii daypack.

I’ve had several people comment on my tiny luggage choices while traveling over the past few years, which at the time usually consisted of a carry-on sized suitcase or backpack plus a daypack.

In response, I would often add, “But my dream is to travel with just this bag right here!” This bag being my daypack, the Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 Gii, a 12L backpack that I adore.

They would laugh, I would laugh… giggles all around. They would think I was crazy; I would think I was crazy, but in a hopeful-it’s-possible type of way.

See, after dozens of trips and months of consistent travel experience under my belt, I’ve come to the realization that for me, packing smarter means packing both smaller and lighter. I can make tight carry-on restrictions, and most of all, I’ve learned that I hate the burden of carrying anything at all.

I finally reached my goal this year of traveling with a 12L handbag, and it was glorious.

Me and my 12L handbag! Glorious freedom!
Me and my 12L handbag! Glorious freedom!

I’ve become obsessed with that feeling of freedom and power that comes with a tiny bag. So much so that I pretty much preach the tiny bag benefits on this site, around the web, and in our HPLWorld Community. It’s my personal packing goal.

But here’s something that we (yes, myself included) all need to be reminded of:

My packing goals may not be your packing goals. And that’s OK.

Her Packing List was founded with the idea of helping women to pack smarter and travel more confidently. We have the information and the resources to help you no matter what your packing goal might be.

If you want to fit more items into your luggage, we can help. If you want to find a more useful jacket, we can help. If you simply want to pack toiletries so they don’t leak, we can definitely help with that, too.

Everyone coming to this site has different trip styles and needs; different items they’re (not) willing to travel without; different health issues and considerations.

Maybe you’re like:

Brooke, dude (yes, we’re on dude terms), I travel home once a year from my teaching job in remote country A and you better believe I’m stocking up on ALL MY FAVORITE GOODIES from back home in my family-sized suitcase.

Or maybe you’re like:

Brooke, I’d luuuuurve to travel carry-on only, but my body is so sensitive that I HAVE to pack extra lotions and potions from home. All those liquids can’t go in a carry-on.

Or, maybe this is you:

Brooke, clothes and makeup are my jam! I can’t travel without them; I just want to make sure I’m not going over my one checked bag allowance.

I get you.

After all, I have been known to come home from a trip to the States with an extra suitcase of shopping. It happens.

brooke overpacked
We bought ALL THE THINGS in America.

So please, don’t get intimidated by all my crazy travel with a purse and ultralight jibberjab (I’m really passionate about it as you can tell). And I’ll do my best to not assume that traveling with a purse and ultralight is what you want, too.

(But if it is… I’m totally your girl!)

Ideally, Her Packing List wants to help you to be more:

  1. confident in your packing choices,
  2. in control when you’re moving from A to B, and,
  3. comfortable with travel in general.

For that, the most important first step is to identify what packing smarter means to you, and take it from there!

Care to share? What does packing smarter mean to you?

P.S. Here are some quick links for different packing scenarios:

my packing goals vs your packing goals

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Gina says

    Brooke, you have inspired me with your 12L packing. It’s definitely in my goals to travel as small as possible where appropriate.

  2. Kristi says

    Brooke you’re such a packing inspiration! Though I don’t know if I’ll ever do a 12L bag, it’s totally made me rethink everything that I’m bringing on a trip and how I can be more strategic about packing and wearing clothes.

  3. Jenn says

    I’m one of those with NO desire to pack in a 12 L pack. I do enjoy traveling carry on when it makes sense and being able to manage my own luggage by myself. That said, my goals are to invest in quality pieces that are efficient and dependable.

  4. MiaNaja says

    I’m one who misses all the hard large luggage trunks with bellmen and porters. I’m older and do not do backpacks, I also like to look nice and sophisticated when I travel. I am more likely to travel to events where I have to entertain, speak, sing or dance and need multiple evening gowns and shoes. But when I travel abroad I do want to know what is a must take or a leave home in terms of daily clothes. So the tips are helpful.

  5. Char says

    Good to know but after seeing your post and the video, I feel like I NEED to do this. I have two little kids I’m traveling with so it may not be possible but I’m still gonna TRY! We are going away for 6 days. I don’t mind if my kids have luggage but I still want to pack my stuff, carry on only in a handbag. Think I can do it?!?

    • Brooke says

      If you want it badly enough, of course you can! You’ll need to downsize your toiletries into tiny bottles. And for 6 days, you could bring 2, maybe 3 outfits and wear a couple of times, or mix and match. Easy 🙂

  6. ClicketySnap says

    I can relate SO MUCH

    I recently helped my parents “pack lighter” for a 3-week trip that included a pretty fancy cruise. I ended up having to bring an extra suitcase when I joined them because they felt their two carry-ons and one 24-inch checked bag weren’t enough. When we first started packing I was hopeful to send them off with their daybags and a 24-inch checked bag between them, but as they kept adding to the pile I realized that their “packing light” and my “packing light” were about 30 lbs of clothes and shoes apart.

Leave A Reply