Carry-on to Cozumel

If you live anywhere south of Iowa, I envy you this time of year. Our winter started out super mild (in the 30’s and 40’s) and we got way too comfortable. Fast forward to mid-January and we started averaging at least one snow storm a week and are now up to 10 school snow days. Ick.

Luckily, Luke and I are about to break free from this Bing Crosby record stuck on repeat to the welcomed sounds of a Mariachi band. We leave for Cozumel in a few long days.

I told my friend Lindsey the other day that I don’t even care about putting my toes in the sand (the test determined that was a lie) but am just excited to put my bare feet in the grass. The feeling of having those soft, living blades beneath your skin and taking in a deep, earthy breath is incredibly cathartic.

Don’t think our grass will be making an appearance in the near future.

We try to take a vacation to somewhere warmer once a year. I am not meant for cold weather. I believe that I was born to live on an island with the ocean and beach out of my front door. Unfortunately, that isn’t currently in our budget so I will just have to settle for a vacation for now.

I am an over packer. I pack 3 outfits for each day so that I have plenty of options. I wear an average of 1.5 outfits per day when on vacation. I am committed to not over packing on this trip.

We have spent many hours in the baggage claim area of an airport in the past just to grab my bag of stuff I didn’t really need. We have come close to missing connecting flights or shuttles not to mention wasting precious time in the sun.

This time WILL be different. I am putting my foot down. We will NOT be taking a checked bag to Cozumel. I received much more push back than I thought I would from the hubby. Turns out that MY burdensome bag that we ALWAYS have to wait for also holds small stowaways such as beard oil, hair product and manly smelling bodywash that just can’t make it into those quart-sized bags. Odd…

I really want to keep things simple this time around. I am using the KISS method. I always hated the “stupid” part so I have decided to rip off the old acronym and change it to Keep it Simply Sophisticated. Yes. I am a dork.

We are going for 6 days and 5 nights. I will show you how I packed one carry-on and one personal item (that’s not cheating) for each of us. I will also show you my little tricks and tips about liquids. Don’t worry. Not going to show you anything that will get either of us onto the “No Fly” list.

Since I figured I average 1.5 outfits per day, simple math indicates that I will need a total of 9 outfits (beach wear, dinner wear, and day wear (there’s your darn Oxford comma – don’t really give two hoots about what the peanut gallery thinks of my writing style. If you are here, you probably are enjoying it – or you are one of my aunts who loves me no matter my grammar or comma usage). If I divide my 9 outfits into the 3 categories, that leaves me with 3 outfits for the beach, 3 outfits for dinner and 3 outfits for any daytrips to town or non-water excursions. Re: Excursions, I just hope that Luke doesn’t pick anything that involves ATV’s and dirt because, let’s face it, I don’t own garments that are dedicated to that line of work and if I did, I certainly would not allow them to take up precious suitcase space.

More of my psuedo math would tell me that I need 3 garments (not including under ones) for each outfit. No way I will have enough space for that. Another issue is that I am a being who craves novelty, (and also fears being spotted in the same outfit twice in 6 days) so I will be forcing my clothes to do double or even triple duty in order to conserve space but also maximize my number of outfits.


For the Beach

This is where I really wanted to uncomplicate things. When we travel anywhere warm and near water, I typically pack about 2 swimming suits per day. I end up wearing the same couple of suits the whole time – switching only to ensure no goofy tan lines. For this trip, I am packing only my 4 most flattering suits. I am also packing only 2 coverups and 2 pairs of beach shoes. The shoes, yellow kimono, and 2 of the suits are going to do double duty and assist an evening outfit and a day outfit.

For the Evenings

We will have several options for dinner on the resort and will most likely sneak off into town to try the local cuisine. I did pack 5 different outfits for that. Dinner is where I really don’t want any repeats. Here, I have packed 4 dresses (that could potentially be worn on a daytrip into town ) and one pant outfit. The pants are linen beach pants that I can be thrown on with the kimono if needed.

Top right outfit is made of a well-cut black blazer, linen beach pants, and… a swimming suit.

I packed mostly gold-toned jewlery to make all of my looks more cohesive. I chose 2 more pairs of mules (just cuz I was really missing that trend with this crappy weather) and an easy pair of wedges.

Not pictured: One pair of denim shorts. These shorts can be used for the beach, excursions, or day trips into town. I will just put them over a suit and pair them with my kimono.


I always put all of my liquids into a Ziplock quart bag and put that into my personal item so that I have easy access to it or TSA checks. I only keep that baggie, my phone and a book for the flight in there. Everything else gets into my carry-on bag. This time, I packed only what I thought would be too inconvenient to get in Mexico. My must-have liquids included: texture spray (for my hair because I refuse to use any styling tools on vacay), tinted moisturizer cream (I also refuse to use a heavy foundation), mascara, contact solution (I am too scared to get Lasik), extra pair of contacts, small bottles of lotion, my own shampoo/conditioner, roller perfume, and toothpaste.

The liquids I am willing to get in Mexico will be: sunscreen and aloe vera gel (because Luke will inevitably get burned). These are sold in gift shops of every resort and I don’t mind paying double the price because I am saving time and money by not taking a checked bag.

I will update this with photos of the outfits from the trip. For now, I want to hear what YOU pack for a beach vacation. How many days can you travel for without the use of a bigger checked bag? Leave me a comment below!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Autumn G says:

    I almost always do a carry on only. My “trick” is a carry on suitcase for over head and a backpack for under the seat, that I deem as my personal item. I love a good hand bag but I have about four I use for traveling and they aren’t structured . Therefore, I pick two or a purse and clutch and pack them empty in my suitcase. I love the packpack for my personal item because I’m bound to buy a few extra items I’ll want to take home that a purse (even my largest) wouldn’t fit. Rolling and large zip locks to reduce space are my best friend. Also, the no styling tools on vacation save so much room. Longest trip with backpack only was 18 days (crazy I know, I did find a local laundry mat).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. raebree84 says:

      I can’t believe you did 18 days in a backpack! That’s awesome, lady. I’m totally stealing that tip. I’ll just stick my liquids in the outside pocket. Thanks so much for the tip and for reading 😘


      1. Casey P says:

        I’m waiting for the outfit post. The folded items are a tease and look really cute! Also, suits please and where do you get them?


      2. raebree84 says:

        Ha thanks, Casey! 3 of the suits are from Cupshe and the other is an oldie from Target.


  2. Paat says:

    Great advice. I aalways over pack.


  3. Julie Kuntz says:

    I travel in a 37ft fifth wheel camper and I take half my closet and my puppy too.


    1. raebree84 says:

      Lol! Sounds like traveling in total comfort (especially the with a puppo).


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