What’s in My Bag? Packing for Months as an Au Pair in a Carry-On

I am not an organized person, there is just no way around that statement. But, after years of camping and portaging, I have honed in my packing abilities until they are just short of being considered a super power (my humility powers still need some work…).  Therefore, I knew I could get all 6-weeks+ worth of stuff into just my carry-on.  WowAir was also going to charge me more to check a bag, and that is something for which I do not have the budget #unemployedlife. So, below are the contents of my suitscase, and hopefully some inspiration for anyone trying to travel light.

Packing tips for anyone wanting to travel with just a carry on. It may seem daunting, but remember that you can’t possibly pack for a full 6 week trip, so you may as well pack light!

Beach Round

This bad boy came to me through a FabFitFun Box and I love it. Water just rolls right off it and the instagram posts are going to look great. Mine is a Gypsy 05, 100% cotton version which sells for about $50.

You can buy similar, and cheaper versions here. 



I swear by an oversized scarf while traveling. I use this as a blanket on planes, a beach towel when needed, a tapestry on my wall and as a wrap on cold evenings. This is also handy to have when visiting religious sites, as many require you to cover your shoulders. This one is from Bali, a gift from a friend!


Soap, Sunscreen and Cosmetic Bag

The biggest issue you face when only bringing a carry-on is the fact that all liquids must be under 100ml. This Yves Rocher body wash is condensed, so you need only a dime-sized amount for each wash. The bottle promises 40 washes, so I bought two! Yves Rocher also has CONSTANT promotions and sales, it is one of my favourite bath and body stores.


After working as a lifeguard for years outdoors, I am very particular about my sunscreen. There needs to be a fine balance between smell, protection and chemical use. This Aveeno meets all the aforementioned criteria. I also buy exclusively water-resistant sunscreens, they just last better I have found.


This cosmetic bag was another great product from FabFitFun, it is big enough to hold all my makeup, plus it’s just plain funny.

Buy the body wash here and suncreen here 


Summer Dresses

Summer dresses are my go-to when packing space is tight. Firstly, they’re great because one piece of clothing = the entire outfit. Secondly, they are easy and breezy, perfect for hot summer days. I am bringing about 7 with me to Italy, including some rompers.

*Pro Tip* Instead of folding your clothing, roll it to save space



Cross-body bags are super practical for travel as they let you keep your personal belongings within sight whilst still allowing your hands to be free. This Kate Spade purse also happens to have an adorable scalloped edge. My other bag is a recent addition, but has quickly risen through the ranks to become my #1 bag. This Coach wristlet has just enough space to store cash, as well as two slots for ID and a small pocket for other cards. Plus, the extendable key ring means I can clip it to the interior of my purse so as to ensure it stays put. Both bags are going in my personal item during the flight, aka the backpack.

Shop similar Kate Spade Bags here, and Coach card wallets here

*Pro-Tip* Make sure your bag has a latch, tie, or other method to firmly close the bag. Also choose a bag made of a durable material that cannot be slashed or ripped, I always choose leather.



The struggle has been so real trying to find a sandal that a) is cute b) comfy for long walks c) fits a wide foot and high arch. These Geox gladiators seem to be just the ticket. Solid leather uppers mean the sandal will morph to your foot with each wear and the Geox sole promises to keep your feet dry and comfy. Unless required, I try not to bring heels when I travel; they’re heavy and hard to pack.

*Update* Be weary of Geox sales, as any sale item is non-refundable, instead only exchange or store credit is offered on returns


Water Bottle

Seeing as it is Canada’s 150th birthday this year, I thought I would throw a party for the kids I am au pairing. Included in my theme is my water bottle. Swell bottles have taken over as they keep water nice and cool as well as look sleek.

Get them here


Gifts Galore

I mentioned bringing games and activities for the kids I am au pairing here, but I am also taking them books and shirts as gifts. The shirts will play well into my Canada Day party and the books will be a fun way to better learn English. I chose paperback copies for books and a dice game as both are light and easy to pack.

Buy Jillian Jigs here and Scaredy Squirrel here 



I formally swore I would never betray my love of books by investing in an e-reader, but man oh man do they rock. Storing thousands of books, lighting up at night and having the ability to save my favourite quotes are just some of the features that make me okay with giving up the book smell.

Buy an E-Reader here


Other Essentials

This bathing suit is from Pink and is the perfect suit for chasing children around the beach. It is fun with the colour and cut, but also allows you to move around and have a good time playing in the sand and sea. As much as I love glam swim suits, I cannot bring myself to buy something that I can’t dash through the water in.


Obviously Converse are a well-known shoe and for good reason. I wear these with shorts, jeans, dresses and anything else I can think of. Plus, you can throw them in the washing machine when they get dirty, just take the laces out first.


There you have it, my essentials for any Au Pair, and all able to fit in a carry-on.

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