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PART 1 of a month-long style, travel and surf diary in Australia.

How to pack for a month in a carry-on…
Yes- it is possible. The only things you’ll be missing are the inevitable wait at the airport, bag fees, the gut-wrenching sound of wheels at your heels, the freedom of being able to skip around town prior to checking into a hotel, and possible luggage loss. Aside from that, you can fit everything you need for a trip in a bag that never has to leave your side.
To prove that it’s possible to both pack light and look put-together, I’ll be taking a month-long trip to Australia, packing only a carry-on bag, and updating you with via a daily style diary. I’ll be posting style updates from Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, so I had to pack for both (slightly chilly) and warm weather.

My strategy: divide your bag into quarters:
1/2: Clothes, bathing suits
1/4: Shoes
1/4: Accessories
(I keep toiletries, my iPod, computer and books in a separate, small bag that’s easy to get to)

What made the list of packing essentials:
- A Tunic
Bring a tunic dress that can be worn as a top, beach cover-up, or dress. Make sure to bring a layering tank or dress if it’s sheer. My top picks: the L*Space Ava Poncho and the Gypsie Junkies Mimi Tunic.

- Maxi Dress
Like little cotton chameleons, a maxi dress can switch from casual to classy with the right accessories. Dresses that made my bag: a silk Indah dress, Gypsy Junkies tank maxi dress, and an Indah white cotton maxi dress.

- Pair of skinny jeans
Just one, really great-fitting pair will do.

- Solid layering tanks and tees
A few solid pieces for layering under sheer tops and dresses are essential. A few great essentials: a SWELL woven pocket tank and off the shoulder top.

- Tanks / Tops
You can fit about 100 chiffon tanks and tops in your bag. Consider these to be zero points- so like lettuce on Weight Watchers. A few of my picks: the SWELL Trails top and Spare Goletta wrap

- Beach Pants
One pair of printed or solid beach pants are great to have for lounging around. These Indah beach pants are unique enough to wear out.

- Denim Shorts
Like the skinny denim, just bring one pair of your favorite denim shorts.

- Bikinis
Take at least few bikinis. Best picks are ones that can double as tops to wear under tanks (or one-pieces that can be worn AS tanks) and dresses, and at least one good surfing top. If you’re a boardshorts gal, add one pair of those to the list (Billabong makes some really cool short boardshorts). My top picks: a tan Mikoh top, 6 Shore Road one-piece, and rust Acaia bandeau and bottoms.

- Sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat
If you’re going to be in the sun, you’ll be happy you packed these: Nixon sun hat and Waterman’s Face Stick

- Shoes
Flats, boots, sandals, wedges. One of each, and that’s it. You could probably do without either the boots or the wedges, depending on your style and where you’ll be going. What made my list: Frye Billy Boots, tan Billabong sandals, Frye mid-tops, and my favorite pair of tan wedges (similar to this BC wedge sandal below).

- Lightweight sweater
You’ll have a jacket if it gets really cold, and hopefully some scarves in your accessories arsenal, so just one, light sweater will do. In my bag: yellow BB Dakota Sweater

- Jacket: wear this on the plane. This could take up about half a bag, so just wear it. You’ll be happy you did when you realize airline cost cuts left you without a blanket.

- LOTS of accessories (leggings, jewelry, fun socks, skinny belts, scarves)

It may sound like a long list (or a short one if you’re an over-sized rolly bag connoisseur), but trust me, packed right you can fit it all into one, 22” x 14” x 9”, bag. Wear the jacket, boots, a scarf, and either denim or a maxi dress to cut down on the bulk.

"A, ahem. You forgot a board."
Remember, Aussies are a nice bunch- handing out smiles and Vegemite sammies like it’s nothing. So make friends and borrow a board.

See the entire packing list: Travel Essentials
Then stay tuned- the Daily Style Diary starts this Sunday!

About the author: Nicki is the voice inside your…SWELL emails & social networks. See more from her Australia Style & Travel Guide HERE

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