The Ultimate List of Travel Hacks for a Week Trip to Hawaii (and it all fits in a carry-on)

Hello there! If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are doubting the ability to squish a week’s worth of outfits, cosmetics, hair care products, toiletries, shoes, beach stuff, etc. all in ONE single carry-on. First off, let me answer your initial question: WHY?

Why would someone limit themselves to a tiny carry-on for such a lavish vacation?

My answer: Because I want to enjoy my vacation, not my things. 

Lucky for me, our destination has a warm climate, so it was easy to pack light and avoid bulky clothing.

Now to answer the next question: HOW???

Clothing + Shoes

First rule: No back up plans. Pack what you need, and wear what you pack. This means you need to love what you pack because you don’t have options.


  1. Pineapple T-shirt + Black Shorts
  2. Black Paisly Tank + Jean Shorts
  3. Black/Red Floral Sun Dress
  4. Black/Green Floral Sun Dress
  5. Cream Floral Romper
  6. White Floral Romper
  7. Blue Romper
  8. White Floral Maxi (for a date night!)

Beach Wear

  1. Black Beach Cover Up
  2. Blue Floral Kimono
  3. Coral Swim Top
  4. Black Bottom
  5. White Pattern Bottom
  6. Black Paisly Swim Top
  7. Purple Swim Bottom

Shoes (I went real simple with this category…)

  1. Brown Sandals
  2. Black Sandals


  1. 4 tops (black, neutral)
  2. 1 sports bra
  3. 7 bottoms

My trick here was packing cubes and zip-locks. Swimsuits and unmentionables go in the zip-lock for airtight closure. Everything else is rolled and strategically placed in a few packing cubes. This keeps everything wrinkle-free upon arrival and extra neat and compact for travel.

The top cube holds my cosmetics, makeup, hair stuff, etc. This portion of the packing required the most thought.

First off, let me tell you what I didn’t pack: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and a hairdryer. It’s 100% guaranteed that my hotel will have these accommodations, so I could cross them off the list and save a little extra room during packing. Now, let me show you what I did pack.

All you need is 5 zip-locks and your beauty/hygiene essentials. To help you decide what is essential, I’ve broken down each bag for you below:

The Beach Essentials

There is nothing worse than getting to your sunny destination and realizing you forgot to pack sunscreen. Not to mention, most beach towns charge an arm and a leg for these MUST HAVE items! Save your money (and the stress of over-baking) by planning ahead.

  1. SPF 15 for me
  2. SPF 30 for Hubs
  3. SPF face (my absolute favorite!)
  4. After Sun

Shower Essentials

I already shared that the hotel is stocked with some of the usual essentials, so this bag only covers what I had to add to the mix.

  1. Deodorant
  2. Baby Oil (Super essential for the sun-kissed skin!)
  3. Hair Smoother
  4. Face Soap (in the bag)
  5. Toothpaste (in the jar) Also, I realize now that my toothbrush is in a different bag lol
  6. Hairspray (it’s tiny because my hair is tiny 😂)

Makeup Essentials 

Typically, I do a less is more look when traveling, especially when I can count on the sunshine for my color. I used to travel with a giant makeup bag, and depending on the venue or events at my destination, this is still the case. For a beach vaca though, I don’t really worry about it.

  1. Pore Reducing Primer
  2. Tinted Powder
  3. Contour Kit (doubles as an eyeshadow kit)
  4. Blush
  5. Highlighter
  6. 3 Makeup Brushes
  7. Too many eyeliners lol (regular and waterproof, thin tip and regular tip, kohl and liquid… ughhhhh I’m an addict)
  8. Lash Primer + Mascara
  9. Eyebrow Pencil (freshly sharpened)
  10. Lip Liner + Lipstick + Gloss

Wellness Essentials 

This is my hackiest bag of all. It’s literally like my little bag of tricks, or some might call it my Mary Poppins Bag! It is honestly for all those times I have had to buy something while on vacation that I already had at home. This bag cuts your travel extra expenses way down!

  1. Instant Coffee with Cream + Stevia
  2. Green Tea with Ginger (great for digestion)
  3. Night Time Tea (great for time changes)
  4. Throat Lozenges
  5. EmergenC Packs
  6. AfterBite
  7. The Medicine Cabinet

Y’all. I packed everything but the bathroom sink, including the medicine cabinet… In a carry-on. This is called having your cake and eating it too. We are prepared for everything!!! From left to right:

  1. Benadryl
  2. ZzzQuil
  3. Advil + Aleve + Naproxen
  4. Zinc/Echinacea/Vitamin C Tabs
  5. Cold Fx
  6. DayQuil
  7. NyQuil

The Other Essentials 

This bag holds all the other stuff. Basically, it’s the stuff you want access to during flight and throughout your trip. It has like all the necessary hygiene essentials for daily life plus some of the essentials that didn’t fit in other bags.

  1. Makeup Remover Wipes
  2. Wet Wipes (Priority 1 of air travel: clean your seat and surroundings)
  3. Tissues
  4. 3 Face Masks (sometimes I do these on the plane if the air is really dry.)
  5. Under Eye Masks (Pop these on right before you land and look fresh and relaxed walking off the plane!)
  6. Lip Masks (because the sun is hard on your lips)
  7. Ear Plugs
  8. Hair Brush (little black thing in the corner)
  9. Tooth Brush
  10. Bobby Pins
  11. Razor (why this is not in the shower bag, I do not know…)

First Aid Kit

All of the meds are in the Medicine Cabinet, so this is just some other random things I hate buying during a trip. It’s the stuff you mainly need when you don’t have it.

  1. Spare Contacts
  2. Hair Ties (yes… they are tiny because my hair is tiny lol)
  3. Alcohol wipes (variety)
  4. Band-Aids in every possible shape and size (If you know me at all, you’ll agree this is the most necessary thing in my bag 😂 #accidentprone)

And there ya go… everything I’ll need for the next week zipped up in 1 carry-on. Now, before you start with the What about your laptop? No sunnies for a beach trip? Oh, honey, you forgot your chargers… These specific items will be in that glorious thing the airlines call my personal item. It’s a Longchamp bag that literally just has my passport, wallet, laptop, phone, both chargers, and sunnies. Everything else is in the carry-on 😉

Hope this post will help you with your next journey abroad! This is going to get me through a week, but it’s also great for weekenders and half week trips!

– the Wife

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