How I Packed For a 6 Day Hawaiian Trip With Just a Personal Item

Cheap flights to Hawaii mean spontaneous bookings and no carry-ons via United Airline’s Basic Economy ticket restrictions. My parents and I each took a personal item to Oahu and I will show how I was able to pack for a 6 day trip with my Cotopaxi Allpa 28L backpack. All of our bags fit into the measurements bin and given the seal of approval by a United agent before our boarding passes were issued.

Packing List

  • 6 underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 2 bras
  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 swimsuits
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 kimono
  • 1 hoodie
  • 4 shorts
  • 2 romper outfits
  • Toiletry bag
  • Macbook Air and charger
  • Sun hat
  • Teva sandals
  • Glasses and nightguard


  1. Plan out your outfits by day. I usually write out a day-by-day itinerary and what I’ll wear that day depending on the activities.
  2. Roll all your clothes! I usually use packing cubes if I take a carry-on, but with lack of space, I simply rolled everything I could onto the right side of the pack. I started with the hoodie and rompers fitted into the bottom as they’re bulkier, then worked my way up with shorts and then shirts.
  3. Bring a small laundry bag for dirty socks to keep it separate from everything else.
  4. Be prepared to do sink laundry if needed! I usually carry a tiny Ziploc bag of powdered detergent.
  5. United allows plastic grocery bags onboard if you claim they’re food and snacks, PLUS you can carry bulkier items of clothing on your persons without any issues. I was able to go hands free with my Cotopaxi.

Final Thoughts!

Note that since Hawaii is tropical with a fairly steady temperature in the low 80s, my choice of clothing was light, airy, and short. If I were going somewhere colder, I’d have some trouble fitting 6 days’ worth of stuff. I ended up using all my clothing except the second swimsuit, so repacking was fairly easy as I didn’t need to separate dirty from clean clothes.

I also wore long pants, a shirt, my linen button up, and sneakers on the plane to save some space.

The total weight of the pack (including my Macbook) comes out to: 17 pounds. But with the two strap backpack style rather than single strap duffel bag, the 17 pounds was completely doable and comfy. A full review of the Cotopaxi Allpa 28L cane be found here.

xx Sam

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