03/29/2013 01:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Overpacker's Guide to Carry-on Success (Video)

Hello, my name is Quia Querisma and I am an overpacker. It doesn't matter where I'm going, I need multiple pairs of shoes, a swimsuit, pajamas, multiple handbags, and wardrobe options. Just that statement alone probably triggers thoughts of "her royal highness's matched luggage." Believe it or not, despite my overpacking ways, I've become quite a packing ninja. I've packed up to eight days of summer clothes into a 21" suitcase that zipped effortlessly. Same goes for five days of winter clothes -- knits and layers considered!

There's a distinct method to my madness that I'd like to share:
  • Get real about the purpose of your trip: Whether my trip is for business, pleasure, or a hybrid of both dictates what exactly will find its way into my suitcase.
  • Take the destination into consideration: The clothing I pack for a holiday in the Caribbean is totally different from what I'd bring to Miami. Both areas have a similar climate, but the activities are different. I'd be hard pressed to find a reason to wear a vampy bandage-style dress in the Dominican Republic, but in Miami if I plan to hit any of the noteworthy nightclubs, it's expected. Same goes for heels. I'll be wearing flats (or better yet, I'll be barefoot) the entire time on an island retreat, but a sexy urban metropolis like Las Vegas (which is also very hot in the summer) demands stilettos.
  • Choose shoes first: The reason most women end up taking a second bag only for shoes, is because they pick their clothes first. Don't do that. As a rule, I bring three pairs. Heels, dress flats, and casual flats. They should all be a neutral/flexible color so that you'll get the most versatility out of them. The bulkiest of the shoes should be worn on the day of flight so they don't consume bag space.
  • Try to choose all-day looks: On business trips, I generally opt for dresses because they look polished enough to get through a day of meetings (and can be paired with a blazer for a nice, professional look). When it's time for dinner and client-courting activities, the blazer can be shed for a more relaxed look while still coming across polished and not over-done. On leisure trips, depending on the nature of them, the same thinking can be applied, but if you plan on getting involved with a trendy nightlife scene, a change of clothes may be necessary.
  • Repurpose: Jeans and most garments that are dry clean only can be worn at least twice on your trip. One pair of jeans or slacks for every two tops can streamline your take-alongs. Instead of a boring old laptop bag, opt for a stylish tote that is big enough to fit your computer during travel, and double as a handbag during the day. Also, if you choose to bring pajamas, camis with a built-in bra can be repurposed for workout gear.
  • Streamline the beauty goods: Rather than bringing the full-sized containers of your favorite products, go ahead and transfer them into the travel sized bottles found in the drug store. This way, you won't have your moisturizers, makeup remover, and hair goodies confiscated by TSA (or be forced to check your bag). Also, if you bring shampoo, consider finding a 2-in-1 for your trip to save space in your liquids bag. When it comes to makeup, take a good look at what clothing you're bringing and only pack the products you'll need to complement. There's no need to bring the entire train case.
  • Employ a packing method that works for you: It might seem like a scary thought, to work with the smallest roller bag in the set, but try it. You can roll your garments, use the "rock star method," or take some tips from my own packing technique. I'm here for you, fellow overpackers. I've condensed to a carry-on bag and you can, too.


Quia Querisma is a digital marketer by day, freelance writer by night, and a traveler by nature. Get her latest insights on travel and fashion on her blog,