How to Travel With Only a Carry-On

I am a last minute packer and I have a tendency to over-pack. So, if you are anything like me, then you can understand how difficult it was for me to challenge myself to travel to New Zealand for two weeks with only a carry-on and a small backpack. It actually wasn’t that hard and here is how you can travel internationally with only a carry-on too.

Bring Only Travel Sized Items

This may seem like a no-brainer, but some people do try to bring full-sized items and check-in their luggage. You only need a few things:

  1. Toothbrush & Toothpaste (and mouthwash if you prefer)
  2. Shampoo & Conditioner*
  3. Deodorant
  4. Face Wash & Moisturizer*
  5. Body Wash & Lotion*

*If you are going to a hotel, you can get these items there. It is best to bring a shampoo and conditioner that works best for your hair though.

If it will be raining or happens to be rainy season where you are traveling, a small umbrella would be good to have as well. It is best to check the weather before leaving.

Stay In Places Where You Can Wash Your Clothes

Hostels and most Airbnb’s offer laundry rooms where you can wash your belongings. At hostels, it isn’t usually free, but it is inexpensive to use. Just make sure you have a few coins with you in order to do so. Because you can wash your clothes, the amount of clothes you need to bring goes down. Below I will put what I believe is the best course of action to take when choosing what to bring. This can go down depending on the amount of time you will traveling or depending on how big your luggage is.

  1. 5-6 pairs of underwear and socks (they are small and don’t take up too much space; can easily be shoved behind other clothes in corners that aren’t filled
  2. 1 hand towel and 1 face towel (if the places you are staying at don’t provide them; hostels usually do not provide towels or they offer them with a fee
  3. 3 pairs of jeans or 4 pairs of shorts (depending on the weather; also can be worn again) *make sure to roll the jeans; leggings can be substituted
  4. 1 pair of pajamas
  5. 4-5 shirts (if bringing sweaters, it is best to roll them and bring a few thin undershirts as well
  6. If you are traveling to somewhere colder, wear the coat or jacket and other needed items with you to the airport

Bring Only Essential Items in Personal Bag

If you don’t need your laptop, leave it at home. Smaller tablets are fine to bring. If you are bringing your camera, don’t bring your camera bag with you. Put your camera and chose only one or two lenses for your travels. The smaller the camera, the better. If you like to bring a book or journal with you as you travel, try reading or writing digitally on your electronic device. If you must bring a physical book or journal, make sure it isn’t bulky. If you are bringing the umbrella, put it in your bag as well.

Once you have everything packed, you are ready to go! If you want extra room in your bag or carry-on (if you don’t have any extra room left) for things you want to buy and bring back with you, then take out one of your thickest items. Or, you can either go to the local post office wherever you are and mail the items to you (even though that will cost you more money) or decide not to buy the items at all. Most of the time, they are unnecessary.

I hope this helps you on your next adventure. If you have any other tips and tricks that you have learned, please feel free to share. I love learning new things on how to travel better and smarter.


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