Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

Paris + Amsterdam In A Carry-On


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

Time to talk travel and packing light! As I’ve already mentioned (probably way too many times) I spent the last week of June visiting friends in Amsterdam and Paris. It was a quick but jam packed adventure and I had the chance to explore two of this cities I’ve been dying to see for years. I was traveling solo and I wanted to keep my baggage lean and efficient so I packed my AWAY carry-on full of my favourite summer items and tossed all my easy access necessities into my tried and tested CUYANA Tote. I waited until I got back to share this list to make sure it was going to work well and I must say, it was pretty much spot on!

Today I’ll be sharing the following:

1 | Everything I brought (except for toiletries).

  • 1 Carry-On Suitcase
  • 2 Bags
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • 9 tops
  • 6 bottoms
  • 4 dresses
  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 hat
  • Accessories

The weather was quite variable, ranging from a few cool mornings (around 15ºC) to balmy afternoons (around 20ºC) that turned muggy, all the way up t0 a couple of hot, dry days (around 28ºC), so my options cater to a wide range of weather. If you’re headed somewhere with more stable temps you might not even need as much!

2 | 10 of my favourite looks from the trip.

3 | My top 5 lean packing tips to help you pack smart.


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I’ve been using my Everlane Weekender as my carry-on for over a year now and while it’s a great bag it’s a bit hard on the shoulder when it’s packed to the gills and I sometimes worry about things getting crushed since it’s a soft canvas. So I decided to invest in a proper hard shell carry-on. I’d heard great things about AWAY and I must say their Carry-On suitcase lived up to the hype entirely. It held everything I was hoping to bring without hesitation and being able to wheel it along beside me instead of hauling it around was so much better, especially when I was sprinting through Reykjavik Airport to catch my connecting flight. It comes with a great array of interior compartments, a rechargeable USB wall plug, a built-in USB charger and a trusty lock. For $225 USD (+$50 for us Canadian folk) you really can’t beat the quality and functionality of this little travel buddy. Even packed to the max it was easy to lift into the overhead bins and up and down a few flights of super steep European staircases. I honestly can’t recommend it enough and this is in no way sponsored and I bought the bag myself!


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

The perfect companion to carry-on size luggage is a roomy tote like this classic one from CUYANA. It’s big enough to hold any spill over from my suitcase but not so big that it starts sneaking into duffle territory. For this trip I stowed my toiletries bag in here along with my wallet, passport, agenda and other travel essentials like sunnies, mints, headphones and some basic must-haves like hand cream and dry shampoo. I love this tote because it’s sturdy enough to keep things organized but soft enough that you can easily squeeze it under the seat in front of you. Here’s a full list of the items I brought on-board:

Tote | Wallet | Sunnies | Toiletries Bag | Passport Holder | Phone Case  | Dry Shampoo | Hand Cream | Pen | Watch | Lip Balm | Rings | Hat |


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I brought 9 tops on this trip, which might seem like a lot but when you’re walking or biking all day in the sun or even in the shade, well, you can work up a considerable sweat and it’s nice to have some extra options to change into for the evening. I’ve also found that having lots of interchangeable top and bottom options is great to switch things up when you have to wear the same thing a couple times. Here’s what I brought (similar options to shop below):

Olive Silk CropBlack Slinky Tee (similar) | Linn Linen TeePetra CropLinen Shirt (restocked) | Plaid Shirt (modern upgrade) | Georgia Linen Tee (old similar linked) | White Tunic (old similar linked) | White Linen Tee


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I know 4 black bottom options seems excessive and it probably was a little but whenever I know I have to wear something a few times I opt for black because I it’s no fun to stress about what I’m eating or drinking or fret about what I might sit on or brush past for fear of stains. I brought two pairs of skinny black pants, a rust skirt, a pair of flax linen and black linen wide leg pants and a pair of shorts (which was the only item I never wore).

Cecilia Pant | First Rite Skirt (1 left) | Ponte Pant | Black Short (s/o similar linked) | Florence Pant Flax and Black


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I kept it pretty simple with accessories and just brought my personal faves.

Sunnies | Rings | Large Cuff | Circle Cuff | Long Necklace | Circle Pendant | Plate Pendant (old similar linked) | WatchHat


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I knew the temps would be fickle, especially in Amsterdam so I made sure I had a couple of warmer options for cool nights or breezy days. I wore my Emma Kimono almost daily, my favourite old scarf a few times as a shawl and my First Rite sweater cape from last Fall a couple of times when it was brisk. Here are a few similar options:


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I always bring a few dresses on every trip. I knew it’d be nice to have something simple, comfortable and a little feminine to throw on for dinners out on the canal or tucked away in Le Marais. This Ace + Jig maxi dress (similar linked) has been my go-to travel dress since last summer. It’s my absolute favourite warm weather number and it was perfect for one of the warmer days we spent wandering around Paris. My Only Child x Style Bee tunic was perfect for meandering both cities and especially forgiving after I over-indulged on dinner more than a couple times. I also brought my green linen Hoi Bo tunic, which was great over skinnies on cool evenings and my new favourite LBD, the A-Line from BRASS, made me feel instantly put-together and chic.


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I was particularly proud of myself for being practical about footwear on this trip. Usually I lose control at this point and bring everything that will fit in my suitcase, then end up not wearing half of it because my feet are sore and swollen from walking all-day. This time though, pure restraint! I brought my new BRYR clogs despite warnings of cobblestone streets and I’m so glad I did because they were terrifically comfortable and the streets were entirely manageable. My Birks were an obvious and totally predictable choice and they did not disappoint. My Veja’s were also great for travel days and cooler nights, plus I fit right in because everyone in Europe wears white sneakers.


Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

I try to limit myself to 3 bags or less for a trip like this and managed to stick to 2 total. My classic tote which I’ve already mentioned was a great travel day option and my cross-body from the Opelle x Style Bee collab (now sold out) was fabulous for long days of exploring hands-free, biking all over Amsterdam and transitioned perfectly to night by simply removing the strap to make it a clutch. More options for both types of bags below.


I won’t blabber on about every outfit but I pulled together my favourite 10 looks from the trip (that I could remember) to help show how the different items work together for different looks. I’ll start with my plane look and go from there. I wore two looks a day most days so this gives a pretty good idea about how much you can do within a carry-on! Wherever possible I’ve linked to the exact item or something very similar (will be noted with *). 

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

HatRingsWatch | Sweater* | Tunic*Scarf* | SneakersPonte Pant

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

SunniesCircle Cuff | Bag*TeeRingsWatch | Clogs | Skirt*

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

SunniesWatch | Rings | Cuff* | Tote | BirksNecklace* | Pants | Linn Tee

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

Dress | ClogsRings | Cuff*Necklace* | Bag*

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

SunniesWatch | Cuff* | ToteSneakers | Linen Pants | Necklace

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

SunniesWatch | RingsTote | BirksNecklace* | Linen Pants | Crop Top

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

SunniesClogs | Bag* (gorgeous cylinder) | DressCuff | Scarf

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

Hat | Sneakers | Black Tee* | Linen PantToteLong Necklace

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

Emma Kimono | Striped Tee* | Cecilia Pant | Clogs | Bag*WatchCircle Necklace

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On

Dress* (second option) | Birks | Tote | Rings | Long Necklace | Scarf

Style Bee - Europe In A Carry On


Finally, I’ll just leave you with a few of my best lean packing tips in case you’re into the details or still on the fence about whether you can manage your next vacation from a carry-on (which you absolutely can!). Here they are:

  1. ROLL, ROLL, ROLL – Rolling your pants, tops and dresses (and anything else you can) saves room and helps prevent wrinkles. It made a HUGE difference for my easy-to-crease items like silk tops and linen pants. Especially since bringing a mini steamer was not an option.
  2. WEAR YOUR BULKIEST ITEMS – This is a well known lean packing trick for a reason. I wore my bulkiest sweater, sneakers, scarf and hat onto the plane. I might have looked a little bi-polar but it was worth it to have those pieces handy and not waste valuable space in my luggage.
  3. CHECK THE WEATHER – I know, thanks captain obvious, but I mean check it under 24 hours before you zip that case up. If I’d gone by an earlier forecast or listened to what everyone was saying about it being hot I’d have been way under dressed in both cities. Being cold or having to buy layers out of necessity is not ideal.
  4. A SPOT FOR EVERYTHING – I’m a chronic organizer so this comes naturally to me but it really makes a difference when traveling, especially if you have more than one destination. Keep your accessories, underwear, socks, pjs, toiletries, tops and bottoms each in their own designated spot. Also, having a proper pouch for laundry and worn clothing helps A TON.
  5. PREVENT THE TERRIBLE TANGLES – There is nothing more annoying than finding the necklaces you’ve carefully placed in a little pouch have magically found a way to irreparably intertwine themselves during flight. There are plenty of travel cases for jewelry available, but if you’d rather spend your money on the trip itself simply use a piece of cardboard and a few strips of masking tape to secure them. This trick saved the day for me.(See above for visual)

And that’s about it! I’ll be sharing all my trip photos and the spots I visited next week. Thanks for hanging in while I slowly but surely pull these posts together.

So tell me, are you headed anywhere fun? Do you have any packing tricks you’d care to share? I’d love to know!

This post is not in partnership with or sponsored by any of the aforementioned brands. All opinions are my own. 


Leave me a comment here!

  1. Alison says:

    So curious! Been looking at ordering some Bryr clogs lately, especially after how well you say they were for traveling. What is your Birkenstock size versus your clog size? I saw on their site they say their clogs run smaller than other EU sized brands and was hoping for a good comparison!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Hi Alison! I usually wear a US size 7, my Birks are a 37 and I ordered the 37 (7-71/2 US) from Bryr Clogs. The straps are pretty standard in terms of width around the foot. My feet tend to run more narrow so I was worried but the buckle helps and I don’t find there is too much gaping at the toe. I’ve found the black leather has stretched a bit with wear as well and they’re feeling great now. I shared more details on my latest post. I hope that helps! Thanks for reading! xo

  2. Dee says:

    Hey Lee,
    Loved this post! I’m a little obsessed with packing and organizing, it really calms me (and the neurotic in me). These travel tips and packing posts are my favorite type of post. Loved the looks you brought and the versatility of your accessories and color palette. Keep up the good work! I thoroughly enjoy your blog.

  3. Maria says:

    The cardboard trick for jewelry is GENIUS. I was just lamenting to a friend about how my necklaces always get tangled!

  4. Mun says:

    Eeek I don’t know whether I could ever travel with just a carry-on. Whilst I (don’t think) that I would have any problems with packing my clothes, how did you deal with bulky incompressible items like shoes, make up and toiletries? Tips would be lovely!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      I kept it to 3 pairs of shoes, wore my bulkiest pair on the plane and brought my make-up and toiletries in my carry-on tote. It is totally doable!! xo

  5. Nicola says:

    I’ve gotten really great at packing light in terms of clothes (in a muji roller case that is the size that can fit under the seat) but then end up overpacking for my actual under-seat bag. After adding up my Bose over-ear head phones, book, magazine, wool jersey circle scarf, socks, snacks, water bottle, and this piece of magic:, my personal item is just as big as my carry on suitcase. Do you have any tips for staying comfortable on the flight, but still packing light?

    • Lee the Bee says:

      I know what you mean, I found that my carry-on purse was a little over-stuffed this time but it was mainly because I was bringing a purse for my friend so it was easier coming back. I think the more you can stow the better but a big carry-on bag will probably always be necessary, I did skip the books on the way out and just listened to podcasts and passed out (it was a red-eye). I always bring a scarf but rarely ever use it so next time I’ll leave it in the suitcase. Maybe that helps? Sorry, I don’t have any more useful tidbits haha

  6. Andrea says:

    We are leaving for ten days in Seattle and eastern Washington, to visit home and spend a few days at the lake with family. We haven’t been back in over a year so we are super excited. It’s going to be 23-30+ degrees during the day, but 15-19 at night so it’s going to be interesting to pack for. My tips would be pretty much the same as yours. I always include slip on socks for airport security (if I’m not wearing socks and sneakers, no one wants to do security barefoot!) and pack my chargers for devices in my carry on (since I always check my luggage). Snacks are always good, and I bring an empty refillable water bottle so I can have water during my trip without spending $2 on water every time I’m thirsty. I inevitably pack too many books for the evening, but I think that’s just who I am!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks for the tips Andrea! That trip sounds great! Definitely tricky to pack for such fluctuating temps but layers will be your friend for sure.

      I haven’t had to take my shoes off at the airport for my last couple of trips so I think they might let you leave them on now. Totally agree though, walking on that floor is no time for bare feet. I overpack books and magazines too!

      Have a great time! xo

  7. MICHELLE says:

    This is a slim pack. You go girl. Also, I love that new Rachel Comey circle purse. I’ve been debating if I should invest in it when my APC half moon bag wears out. It so far has been the only bag I use in the past two years. Hopefully RC will make it a recurring classic.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks Michelle! Isn’t that circle purse amazing!? I have been drooling over it all season. I think it will likely come back. The APC half moon is so timeless and elegant though. Life is tough with so many good bags to ogle! haha

  8. Anna Kay says:

    These are awesome tips & outfit ideas – thank you! My new hubby & I are headed to the Nordic countries for a week here soon and I am bound and determined only to take a carry-on. (I was waiting to finish my packing list until I saw your post… 🙂 ) You perfectly capture stylish + comfortable travel wear!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks so much Anna Kay! You’re so sweet and I’m totally jealous of your Nordic adventure! You can totally manage with a carry-on, especially at this time of year. Congrats on the new hubs and have the best time on your vacay! xo

  9. Thuy says:

    I wish I had enough dresses for each occasion to even pack that many lmao. My wardrobe is under-construction. Ever since I purged all the things I accumulated from my teen years just because and mostly low quality, I’ve been trying to build my wardrobe purposefully. It’s tough. Impatient.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Good for you Thuy! I’m actually really looking forward to doing a big clean out later this summer and get my closet super streamlined for Fall. I totally get the impatience factor though. It takes a lot of time and restraint to build it right and not fall back into the trap of adding for the sake of adding. Keep at it girl! xo

  10. Emily Mahi'ai says:

    I’m headed to the UK, Paris, and Amsterdam in the fall, too! I’m even more of a light packer than you are though, planning to bring less than that though I’m going for almost a month. I used to be a chronic over-packer though! What’s helped me the most is just minimizing my wardrobe overall. It’s much easier to select a few favorites now.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Oh that’s awesome! Good for you! I am slowly but surely weaning myself off of over-packing. I totally agree that the leaner your closet overall the easier it is to pack light. So excited for you, I wish I’d been able to see the UK again and go for longer. Have a great weekend. xo

  11. Lo says:

    Love this packing list, and it’s inspiring to see how much you were able to fit in that carry-on! Wondering how you like that dry shampoo. I’m on the hunt for a great powder version in case TSA takes my little aerosol version away on my next trip.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks Lo! It was a squeeze but no seams were strained 😉 haha

      I really like the YAROK dry shampoo and it saved my hair from over washing. I’d been using Batiste and love it but I worried I might get dinged by security. I’d say it’s a great option, just make sure the top is closed or things get messy (learned the hard way). Have a great weekend! xo

  12. Karin Rambo says:

    You have the best style girl! I’m so jealous of your trip. 🙂 We did a month in Europe a few years ago (all with just a carry on) and it was the best thing we’ve ever done. And I agree that black is the way to go when traveling… not only does it not show dirt as much, but it goes with everything!

    Karin |

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Ah, thanks Karin! It was a great trip but I can’t believe it’s already been done for weeks! That’s amazing that you did a month out of a carry-on. Definitely a major challenge but now I can see it being totally doable. So true, black is just too good to deny 🙂 xo

  13. Ann says:

    Thank you for the post. I was wondering if you could do a review of the Cecilia pant. I’ve been eyeing them for a while, but was wondering about fit and versatility before I made the purchase. Also wondering, are they similar to the ponte pant that you also brought?

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Hi Ann, I’ve had a few requests for a review of that Cecilia Pant so I’ve got it on my list. You can see how they fit in this post and I shared my thoughts on the difference between the Cecilia and the Ponte Pant in the comment section of this post. Hope that helps for the time being. They are easily one of my favourite pants and I highly recommend them but for some reason they don’t see the blog in outfits very often. I have a size S (but would order a 2 if buying them now) and wear a 26/27 in denim. Have a great weekend! xo

  14. Karine says:

    Thank you for this post! Similar to Susy, I’m heading to Europe this fall and needed this inspiration to keep me on track as I start to plan what to pack. You’ve got such fantastic style- the bar has been raised from my current 5 white tee strategy.

    I’ve been steering away from white ‘dress’ sneakers (what is this correct term) but will fully embrace my love of them now. And sorry if I passed over this, but how many days did you go for? And you said you could have left a dress behind- was that because of weather or because people were more casual and in pants?


    • Lee the Bee says:

      My pleasure Karine, I’m so glad you found it helpful! Thanks for the style love, too, I very much appreciate it. Ain’t nothing wrong with a good white tee though!

      Haha Your guess is as good as mine about the white sneaker terminology. I just call them my ‘fancy sneaks’. I was on the fence too but they are super versatile and I’ve found that they don’t get as dirty as I feared (mine are leather and easy to wipe off/spray). I went for 7 days total including travel. I’d say it was a combination of reasons that I could have left a dress out. Partly weather and casual factor but also because I bought a pair of vintage jeans that I ended up wearing a bunch because I was so obsessed with them haha. Hope that helps! Always happy to answer any other questions you might have.

      Have the best time in Europe! xo

  15. Susy Palmer says:

    Such a stellar and super helpful post, thanks for sharing! I’m going on a trip soon and will definitely use this advice. The last time I went to Europe, I was backpacking and hostel-hopping for a couple months and was so ill-prepared with my tiny little bag, it was laughable. I remember there was one knit pencil skirt I brought that I had also used as a scarf and as a top, depending on what the weather was for the day. Restriction breeds creativity, I guess, although truth be told it was notttt a good look. 😡

    Anyway! Do you feel like there was anything you brought that you didn’t really wear as much? Or anything that you think you could have done without?

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks so much Susy! I never ended up doing a proper backpacking trip but a few friends of mine have and they all mentioned how tough it was to pack for. European weather is s fickle! That skirt/scarf sounds ingenious albeit…unconventional haha!

      I didn’t wear my shorts once so I’d forget those next time, the crop top was pushing it (I was chilly that day until I got my hands on a sweater) and I could have opted for only one pair of skinny black pants. If I’m being totally honest, I probably could have gone without one of the dresses but it was really nice to have options. I wore everything (but the shorts) so I didn’t feel like I wasted any space.

      Wear are you headed for your upcoming trip!? xo

    • Susy Palmer says:

      Okay wow that was a way more aggressive emoji than I thought it was going to be, I meant for it to just be a “no comment” face. Oops! I’m doing a Budapest/Prague/Vienna trip and I am super super excited 🙂 I’ve never been anywhere in central or eastern Europe so this will be a first! Hopefully this time there won’t be any weird skirt/scarf situations hahaha

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Haha, I loved it! That trip sounds incredible!! My Dad adored Vienna and a friend of mine spent a lot of time in Prague and loved it. Budapest looks amazing! Suddenly feeling some major wanderlust again 🙂 xo

  16. Katrina says:

    THIS POST!!! So many heart eyes!! I love posts like this, my wanderlust is in full throttle now!! 😀 😀
    I went to Amsterdam and Brussels in December and tried to do the minimalist thing, and honestly I didn’t pack enough. I was checking the weather weeks before, and coming from WI, 40 degrees (F) sounded balmy. I was NOT warm enough and ended up wearing the same thing everyday 🙁
    I’m headed for a quick trip to St. Paul in a few weeks and out west later this summer, I may or may not be printing this out!
    My best packing tips are:
    Healthy plane snacks
    Socks in the airport!!
    Dirty laundry bag
    And for Europe/longer trips- a heavy leather duffel bag is NOT ideal (I know this from experience) -go with wheels!!

    xxx Kat

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Ah! Thanks Katrina! I must admit Amsterdam is a really hard city when it comes to predicting weather. Even the friends I stayed with, who live there, have a tough time dressing for the weather. It seems everyone has a raincoat and a scarf handy at all times haha.

      Great packing tips! The healthy plane snacks are a good call. I always end up eating chips and feeling gross! I am also 100% on the wheel train now too. So much easier than lugging a duffle around.

      Have a great time in St. Paul! xo