Your Style Girlfriend

    Style Girlfriend’s Portavi Packing Session: A Two-Week Trip in One Carry-on? Yep, It’s Possible

    26th June 2013

    Tomorrow I leave for a monster trip (two and a half weeks!) through England, Scotland, and Italy.

    I’ve been packed since last Thursday.

    You guys have seen the wondrous packing skills of my travel-savvy pal Hitha before. She’s helped you mix and match a week’s worth of business clothes, and packed you for a work-fun play weekend in Vegas.

    So when I needed to figure out what to bring along on my trek through western Europe, I gave Hitha a shout.


    In her side gig – her side, side gig, really! Besides her day job as a jet-setting pharmaceutical executive, she also writes travel blog Hitha on the GoHitha’s found time to found and run travel packing service Portavi.

    Meaning “to carry” in Latin, Portavi is all about getting you on the road with as little baggage as possible.

    Hitha and her team offer packing sessions that equip travelers with a customized packing and outfit list to make trips a breeze to both pack and dress for.

    Portavi promises you’ll never have to check your luggage again. Which is exactly what I wanted. I’ll be getting on a plane, then a couple trains, then a (teeny) plane, maybe a boat or two….before finally returning home to NYC. The idea of lugging a big heavy suitcase behind me for all that is about as appealing as doing it all in heels. That is, not very.

    Because we’re friends, she came over to my place and packed me in person, though she can get just as good of results through a Skype video session.


    {Hitha snapping pics of the outfits we – well, she – packed}

    She asked me what I would be doing while I was overseas (a wedding, rehearsal dinner, some hiking, a few dinners out, and some pool time!). We looked at the weather (low-60s, to mid-60s, to swimsuit weather). And then we got to work.

    Hitha ran the show.

    “Do you have a cardigan in grey or black?” dig dig dig. “Yep.” “Great, give it here.”

    “You get three pairs of pants.”

    “I don’t think you’ll wear those shoes.”

    “When was the last time you wore that skirt here? If you don’t wear it here, you won’t wear it there. Pick something else.”

    It was amazing.


    {my own personal lookbook, sent a day after our session}

    After your session, Portavi sends a PDF of your personal travel lookbook, filled with pics of all your possible outfit combinations, a checklist of what’s left to pack, and helpful hints about traveling with 3oz or less.


    A big thanks to Hitha and Portavi for getting me all sorted for my big trip!

    Tell me:

    What’s the longest trip you’ve ever taken with only a carry-on by your side?

    • Michael

      We are very experienced carry-on only travelers. We typically fly to the west coast with our two young children for a week with 2 bags. Last fall, we (the wife and I) went to Paris and Zurich for 12 days with 2 carry-ons and a computer backpack.

      • hithaonthego

        That’s excellent, Michael! Any tips you’d like to share? I don’t have children yet, but hope to be a carry-on traveler even with my brood.

    • Dave

      Traveling like this with the family would be a dream come true. As it stands now, I had to buy a minivan just to haul our crap across the state for weekend visits to my parents’ house. Next year we are flying to California for a wedding and I’m terrified (4 nights). I’ll have to start reading Hitha’s blog for some tips!

      • hithaonthego

        Dave – if you ever need any packing help, please let me know! Happy to extend Megan’s wonderful readers a discount :)

    • Chris Rogers

      I did a lot of trips back and forth to North Carolina for work and developed a system that worked really well for me.
      My biggest tips for carry-on travel is get a system that works for you! Always put things in the same place in your bag. Keep your toiletry bag and laptop easily accessible for getting through security quickly. I keep a raincoat or light jacket in a spot easy to get to in my bag in case of unexpected weather. Invest in luggage that makes your life easier. My carry-on bag is capable of carrying more than enough clothing and shoes for an extended trip, and when I’ve needed to carry a suit and had to pack it in my carry-on I bought a folding garment sleeve to protect it. I can’t recommend eBags and amazon enough for getting the best deals on this luggage and travel stuff. Also, put something identifying on all your bags, for me it’s bright lime green luggage tags. I’ve had to gate check my carry-on when flying on small planes and was happy I did this.

    • ginamelfi

      What a great business idea and service to provide! I recently returned from two weeks (my longest vacation ever) in France and Spain. We had a lot of inter-city train travel planned and were using air bnb for accommodations — so, basically, fourth floor walk-ups à la New York. I was VERY proud of my packing skills for this trip, since I always overpack by about 15 garments and two pairs of shoes. Since I knew that I inevitably end up wearing only the few things that I like, this time I pre-packed a few days in advance (as opposed to my typical late-night-packing-cramming session) and then the next night I UNpacked and filtered out things I knew I wouldn’t use. I shed about 35% of the suitcase (which was carry-on size, although I did end up checking it due to excessive liquids/convenience reasons) and halfway through the trip I did laundry at the Sevilla apartment we stayed at. It worked out perfectly, and I finally feel like I learned the proper way to pack. The best part was that I went shopping in Barcelona and was able to bring home a few new pieces without having to worry about stuffing them in!

    • Tom

      I’ve done two trips to Europe for about 15~ days each out of a big brown leather (carry-on) backpack. I stayed at hostels and took advantage of the washer/dryer, which allowed me to pack a lot less. I did two loads of laundry while there, and while my clothes were washing I just hung out in the common room drinking beer and chatting with other travellers. The only downside to a limited amount of clothes is that my pictures are all rather monotonous. A blue shirt of some sort, a dark pair of pants, same pair of shoes all trip, and either a gray cardigan or beige sweater in every picture. Still, it was super convenient and I didn’t feel like I missed anything.

      A quick, tiny note note: “portavi” actually means “*I* carried” rather than “to carry” (which would be “portare”). I think I like the first person translation a little better. It adds a more personal touch to it and a reminiscent sense of a trip that was enjoyable, all because of packing well.

      • hithaonthego

        Tom – I appreciate the Latin lesson! I originally wanted to name the company Portare, but the domain wasn’t available! That said, I like the translation of Portavi a lot – I’ll have to update my “About” page!

    • Sameer Vasta

      What a great idea for a company! I’ll have to check it out. As someone that does a lot of business travel, I’ve never taken anything more than a carry-on for a trip, including several month-long trips to Europe. Once you learn how to bundle and layer and hand-wash and hang-dry, you learn you really don’t need much to get around.

      • hithaonthego

        Sameer – thank you for your comment! I’m a fellow fan of the hand-wash and hang-dry technique. The Launderess makes a great travel detergent that I recommend to every one of my clients!

        • Sameer Vasta

          Oh, thanks for the tip about The Launderess! Hadn’t heard of them before, but will definitely be ordering soon. Thank you!

    • Tom Allan

      All I’ll say is be prepared for variable weather as the homeland has a reputation for turning to rain at a moments notice. That said I’ve just been shipped off to Germany again and it’s not that much different here.

      • hithaonthego

        Tom – I made sure Megan was equipped with some rainy/cold weather clothing as well. I know firsthand how fickle British weather can be, having lived in London myself for 2 years…

    • Tom Allan

      If you travel to Edinburgh from London on a train you should go through my sleepy but pretty home town near the border.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I’ll wave out the window of the train. Be on the look out :)

        • Tom Allan

          Unfortunately I’m living in Germany at the moment so won’t see you waving.

    • TJ

      I’m a big believer in packing light for trips. The last thing I want to do is wait in line to check a bag or pay to have them checked. The one problem is finding space for everything you bring home! Have fun on your trip! I am jealous. I did a study abroad in Europe back in college want to go back to Europe so bad.

      • hithaonthego

        TJ – the trick with that is to leave space in your suitcase when you originally pack, and to pack dirty clothes flattened as to conserve space. You can also throw your toiletry case and a pair of shoes into your personal item bag to conserve suitcase space!

    • adventurer627

      Last big trip was in 2000. Spent 3 months using up airline miles. East coast of Australia including diving the Great Barrier Reef. Victoria Falls area of Africa (Safaris- land & water, Bungee Jumping, Gorge Swing, White water rafting the Zambezzi), Uganda – White water rafting the White Nile, Prague and Paris.

      Biggest pain was the dive gear (mask, fins and dive computer). Thank god Australia was first as I shipped the dive gear home after diving.

      Packing was not so bad. Used a Jansport carry-on/back pack and a collapsible nylon bag for souvenirs.

      Best/cheapest laundry was in Africa. They did everything and even ironed my T-shirts.

      Worst was using the hostel shower (drip, drip) in Uganda to wash my hair (I had long hair down to the middle of my back)

      When you’re in Italy I recommend picking up some Proraso shave cream/soap or other shaving supplies for your male friends/family.

      As for what you might like for souvenirs, myself I liked to pick up some local music CD’s. I know everything is on the internet these days but you just might pick up something before the rest of America knows about it

      Happy travels :)

      • Tom Allan

        The reason they ironed your clothes in Africa was that when they are damp insects lay their eggs on the clothes which would then burrow into you. The ironing kills the eggs and prevents having to remove bugs from your person.

        Loved Livingston in Zambia which I used as a base for all my Victoria Falls activities.

        • Style Girlfriend

          That is a gross, but totally interesting, fact. Thanks Tom!

    • Tyler Lahti

      I’m about to fly out for three days. Hopefully I can manage just a carry-on.

      • hithaonthego

        You can definitely do it, Tyler. If you need help, feel free to shoot me an e-mail – hithaonthego (at) gmail (dot) com!

    • Eric

      This post is perfectly timed for me, as I’m about to leave on my annual 10-day camping trip. I’ll do my best to fit everything into one bag, in Hitha’s honor!

      • hithaonthego

        Let me know how it goes, Eric!

        • Eric

          It went quite well, I managed to find a very large bag. Everything fits! ;)

          • Style Girlfriend

            well done!

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