Guide to travelling carry-on only

Packing for some people can be a daunting task before a trip; what should you pack and what should you leave behind? Packing light is ideal, but it can seem impossible to limit yourself to packing only carry-on. However, with a few tips and tricks, you’ll save yourself the hassle and costs of checking in luggage and be a carry-on pro in no time.

Carry-on basics

The first thing you should do is check the carry-on allowance with all the airlines you’ll be flying with – particularly any budget airlines who are notoriously strict with weight and size regulations. It’s also worth checking if you can have a second small item in addition to your main carry-on.

Packing like pro

Packing will of course depend on where you’re going and for how long, but there are some tips that will help you in any situation:

  1. Roll vs fold – I’ve always been a roller as it tends to be a better space saver
  2. Pack your heavier items where possible – this may seem counter-intuitive, however by packing heavier items on the way over, you can ensure you’ll be able to get any shopping back home without paying extra. Remember to leave some weight/room for your trip back for any purchases!
  3. Be careful what you buy – keeping in mind the liquid carry-on allowance, you’ll either need to pass up on large bottles or post them over before you leave
  4. Reconsider heavy camera/technology – your DSLR can take up a significant amount of your carry-on weight, so if you can do without, consider taking something smaller or getting all your pics on your phone. I did this for a week in Japan and got some great quality photos with just my iPhone!

To pack or not to pack

3 items worth packing:

  1. Back-up power source – a lightweight lifesaver for when you forgot to charge your phone
  2. Cashmere or cotton scarf – depending on the weather, but a scarf will always be used, if only on the plane when the air conditioning can be surprisingly cold or as a makeshift pillow
  3. Pj’s – nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like sleeping in the dirty sweaty clothes you’ve been in all day

…And 3 to leave behind

  1. “Just in case” rain gear – unless you’re going somewhere that is known to be rainy, leave it behind. If it rains a lot of hotels will loan an umbrella or you can grab a cheap poncho from a nearby shop
  2. Hair straightener/dryer – if you’re packing carry-on only, then you’re probably not going to be away for long, so it won’t be worth bringing these
  3. More than 3 pairs of shoes – you simply won’t be able to fit this, so pack a pair of everyday shoes that are comfortable, and perhaps a pair of nicer flats or sandals for night time

Of course, everyone’s needs are different, this has just been my experience after travelling carry-on only for my most recent trips!

If you have any packing tips or questions, let me know in the comments!

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