6 Plus-Size Summer Vacation Looks That Fit In A Carry-On

One thing about the return of hot girl summer and vacation planning is that I get overly ambitious about how much stuff I can bring on an airplane with me. Suitcase limitations are the bane of every style lover’s existence and for international flights, you always have to consider the worst-case scenario: “What if my bag gets lost?” For a plus-size traveler, this is a fashion nightmare. As I started planning my recent two-and-a-half-week vacation to Italy, the idea of being left in a country known for its fashion with nothing but my airplane clothes made me shudder.

Shopping as a plus-size girlie is already challenging even on familiar territory — size-inclusive swimsuits are often frumpy and cover-ups mostly consist of matronly muumuus. Not to mention, IRL shopping is limited to niche boutiques (my favorites include LA’s The Plus Bus or NYC’s Plus Bklyn), which means that 95% of the time, my shopping has to be done online where you never know how something is going to fit until it arrives. While I found some Italian brands that carried larger sizes, the options were still few and far between for me to commit to a checked bag. This is why months before I started packing, I made a mental list of must-have summer looks that could cover all of my OOTDs and fit into a carry-on suitcase

I knew I had to strategically plan out how I would be able to cover two weeks’ worth of outfits in a 22- x 14- x 9-inch bag, and it was a challenge I was up for. I began by creating an outfit for each occasion I anticipated: aperitivo, wine tasting, sightseeing, beach-lounging, and, of course, shopping. And then added pieces that I could easily mix and match with the looks for everything in between.

If you are planning your upcoming trip and laying out your outfits on your bed or an Excel spreadsheet, allow me to cut out some of the planning. From shoes to undergarments and full ‘fits, ahead, a plus-size summer outfit roundup for all your travel needs.

Plus-Size Vacation Must-Have: Matching Sets

A matching set really covers all of the bases. I love the versatility of being able to mix and match it with my other pieces and create a whole different look. I wore a co-ord set for everything from the plane and train to the beach. I was even able to use one set for pajamas when I needed something a little warmer. Basically, it’s like having five outfits in one.

Plus-Size Vacation Must-Have: Statement Separates

When traveling, you have to have statement pieces that you can pair with your summer staples. This golf skirt is one of my new favorites; not only does it instantly add interest to something as simple as a white T-shirt but it additionally features built-in shorts and moisture-wicking fabric. I also love a printed wide-leg pant for warmer weather, especially in a breezy, breathable linen. I was able to pair both with my go-to tank by Kada, which has a lightweight lining for when you want to go braless.

Plus-Size Vacation Must-Have: Flowy Dresses

While some reserve frocks for nighttime activities, I use dresses for my more casual looks. All I need is some comfortable shoes and lightweight shorts to protect against chafing (more on that below), and my OOTD is ready to go. Breezy dresses were perfect for the Mediterranean humidity and looked effortless, with the option to dress up or down by swapping accessories.

Plus-Size Vacation Must-Have: Double-Duty Swimwear

Good swimsuits are a must-pack for every beach vacation. I stan Kitty and Vibe not just for its adorable prints but also for its sizing model. The latter provides two fit options in each one of their bottoms sizes (that go from XS to 5XL) — one for a smaller booty and one for a fuller one. I also love a bikini top that provides just as much support as it does style factor, and can double as a bralette or a crop top.

Plus-Size Vacation Must-Have: Utilitarian Undergarments

I tend to run hot, and get super uncomfortable — and cranky — when I feel sweaty. So a thin, unlined mesh bra is perfect for the summer heat. I also loathe the feeling of swamp booty (IYKYK), so to help combat it, I opt for cotton period underwear, which helps absorb moisture on even the most humid of days. And this wouldn’t be a plus-size-friendly roundup without a trusty pair of shorts. The ones from Thigh Society are my summer wardrobe holy grail.

Plus-Size Vacation Must-Have: Comfortable Shoes

Anyone who has ever traveled to Italy will tell you: leave the heels behind! Wobbly ankles plus centuries-old cobblestones make for a quick trip to the Italian ER. As someone who deals with plantar fasciitis and just overall sore, achy feet, I never skimp on comfort for my footwear. Thankfully, sneakers and athletic footwear have made their way back into the fashion zeitgeist, so my shoes didn’t take away from any of my looks, and I didn’t have to sacrifice comfort for the sake of a vacay pic.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by us. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy or click on something we link to on our site, we may earn a commission.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

3 Plus-Size Outfits Ready for Festival Season

Best Plus-Size Swim, According To A Beach Lover

8 Brands Making Beautiful Plus-Size Swimwear