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Packing for two weeks… in a cabin bag!

I recently packed my bag and took a trip over the pond to Miami where I took a cruise onboard the Norwegian Getaway. It was an absolutely amazing trip, I loved Miami and really enjoyed the cruise.

I went with my boyfriend Jono and each of us had one suitcase which was cabin size! In there we managed to pack all of our clothes, shoes, toiletries and whatever else we would need for a two-week stay. For me this isn’t a big deal, I am used to packing light but when I have told people about this (and shown them the photo below) they have been a little confused as to how I fit in everything I need! That bag does look tiny with Jono for scale…

packing light two weeks in a cabin bag train station suitcase

I’m afraid to say I don’t have any magic tips about turning your suitcase into a tardis. However, I do have a number of rules that I follow in order to make sure that I don’t over pack. I see so many posts online which list a million ‘must haves’ for your cruise, personally I think a lot of them are complete rubbish. You don’t catch me packing a desk fan or an extension cord!

One way to pack lighter is to remember that…

“Everything you pack has to be washed, ironed and put away when you get home.”

girl in dress miami fort lauderdale hotel sky palm tree beach

What to bring:


The most important thing is to pack clothes which are light and roll up small. This was easy for the Miami cruise as I knew the weather would be hot so I was able to pack a LOT of t-shirts and light dresses. (If you are taking a formal cruise such as one onboard Cunard it may be a little harder to pack light). I pretty much lived in dresses and shorts/t-shirt combinations. Make sure you pack a little cardigan or shrug because you probably will need something at dinner, the restaurants do get chilly. Because I was coming from England, where it was cold, I was able to wear a jumper on the plane. This meant that I had one if it got cold in Miami but I didn’t have to try to fit it into my suitcase.

girl in dress on fort lauderdale beach sandy blue sky


Some people take a RIDICULOUS amount of shoes on a cruise. I stick by the rule that you only need three:

  • Flipflops/sandles,
  • Trainers/shoes you can walk in (I always bring converse)
  • Formal shoes for dinner

I have never had a problem with the three shoe rule, occasionally I will take an extra pair of plain black ballet pumps if I get fed up of my formal shoes or flipflops I can easily change over. Ballet pumps also take up very little room in your suitcase which is good. Jono only brought two pairs of shoes, however his feet are so big that I think this extra pair of shoes took up most of his suitcase…


I usually do my best to buy toiletries when I am already at my destination. For me this meant buying shampoo/conditioner/shower gels in Miami. I do sometimes just use the toiletries provided in your cruise stateroom however I do like to have my own. This reduces the weight of your suitcase which is always a bonus if you are flying. You can then use your new toiletries and just leave them behind. Simples!

How to pack:

  • Roll your clothes! I’ve read this tip a million times and was always like ‘yeah right..’ but it honestly does make a difference.
  • Put things inside your shoes. (Not the shoes that you are wearing… ha ha) The inside of your shoes can make the perfect little place for a pair of socks or a small t-shirt. It’ll also keep your shoes from being squashed out of shape.
  • If your suitcase has straps which go across the suitcase contents make sure that you use them. Pack your suitcase full to the top, do up the straps and pull them as tight as you can. The straps will squash the contents down and make you some extra room for you to put more on top.
  • Take a backpack!!! You may end up looking ridiculously touristy but it is worth it. My rucksack was about half the size of my suitcase and I was able to pack quite a lot of things into it. I mainly used my backpack to carry extra t-shirts and shorts but you can carry almost anything.
    packing light backpack tourist

Things you should bring:

  • Bring a smaller bag that you can take out with you, there is nothing worse than having to lug a big backpack around.
  • Camera – You’ll never regret making the space for this one!
  • Your swimming costume. Don’t forget!
  • A ‘just in case’ pair of jeans. Even if I am going to somewhere which is almost guaranteed sunshine I still find room for a pair of jeans. Not a lot worse than being stuck in a storm in shorts.
  • Jewellelry. Because your rather limited wardrobe you may want to dress up your outfit with lots of accessories.

Things you should leave at home:

  • Hairdryer/Hair straighteners. There will be a hairdryer in your cabin. Maybe I am a little bias on the hair straighteners thing as my hair is (almost) straight.
  • Extra hangers. I can’t believe that people actually bring these but apparently they do! There is always plenty in the cruise cabin (maybe because I never bring many clothes…)
  • Room organisers. You really really really don’t need to bring anything like this. There are plenty of drawers in the cabins and I have never had a problem with losing my stuff.
  • Extension cords. Really?! Another one which I can’t believe people genuinely bring. There is usually at least two plugs in the cabin and another for a shaver in the bathroom. I’ve never needed any more than this.
  • Desk fan (again, need I explain? seen somebody mention this one recently)

Another things to bear in mind: Laundry isn’t the enemy! We took advantage of a platinum NCL perk and had a bag of washing done while onboard. We managed to get most of our t-shirts and some dresses/shorts into this bag. It was well worth it for us. It also is a good idea to bring some travel wash and wash some small bits (extra underwear maybe) in the sink. It doesn’t work well for really dirty clothes but for a quick clean up it works well.

fort lauderdale deck chair girl happy miami south beach palm trees blue sky What I brought for 14 days:

T-shirts: 15

Dresses: 6

Shorts: 3

Jeans: 1

Shoes: 3

+ 1 cardigan, 1 shrug, 1 jumper.

I had more than enough packed for the duration of my holiday/cruise. I knew I would be able to buy anything that I had forgotten in Miami so I didn’t have to worry. I found it lovely and easy to wheel around my tiny little suitcase! I would do it again in a heartbeat.

To read a little more about my Miami adventure why not check out: Fort Lauderdale to Miami

To find out how to dress on a formal cruise check out: Cunard dress code

Do you have any packing light tips which I have missed? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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[…] have a skill for packing light. I normally am able to pack for two weeks in a cabin approved bag. More about that here. Despite my love of packing light there are a couple of comfort items that I definitely […]

Victoria Hughes

Wednesday 8th of March 2017

I should so do the jeans tip!! I can't tell you how many times I have been caught in a storm wearing shorts & a t-shirt ? forever looking like I've jumped in a pool fully clothed


Friday 10th of March 2017

So true!! I always bring jeans. They're a bit bulky but so many times I've been thankful for them :-)

Michas Emell

Wednesday 1st of February 2017

Yes Emma. Pack your underwear and your rolled up t shirts into zip lock bags. You always know where to find them, and it acts like they have been vacuum packed. Then you can pack extra stuff if you need it.