How to Travel The World With Only A Carry-On Bag

Want to downsize your luggage and travel the world with only a carry-on? I’m going to tell you how you can do it. The more you practice your packing skills, the better you’ll get. Don’t become frustrated if you struggle with it at first. It can be difficult to downsize but it can be worth it.

Packing Light Does Not Have to be an Oxymoron

If you’re like I used to be, packing light seems like an oxymoron. Every time you walk by your open suitcase you throw something else in. I used to pack way more than I needed to. The result was that I only ever wore, or used, about 40% of what I had packed. Sound familiar?

Luckily, these two words can live side by side in harmony.

Why Pack Light?

This article is not on why to pack light but how to pack light. There are many benefits to packing light. I started to realize these benefits after becoming increasingly frustrated at the inconvenience of having to drag around heavy luggage.

Packing light is especially valuable if you are backpacking or travelling often from one place to another. Because you will have to carry around your luggage a lot, it’s beneficial to have less to carry around.

Still not totally convince about the value of packing light? Check out this article on Advantages of Packing Light: 11 Times You Will Regret Over-Packing.

My Journey From Over Packer to Minimal Packer

Hello, my name is Alannah and I used to be an over-packer. It has been three years since I dragged around a suitcase full of stuff I didn’t need.

Suitcase rage: An overwhelming urge to kick and yell at your heavy and cumbersome suitcase.

As a result of numerous episodes of suitcase rage, I decided that something had to change. I have spindly weak arms and little patience for heavy things. That’s why, during a trip to Australia and New Zealand, I decided to travel with nothing more than a carry-on.

To my amusement, I got a lot of comments and expressions of disbelief towards my tiny luggage.

Travel The World With Only A Carry-On Bag

I was surrounded by other seasoned backpackers. Despite this, many of them were amused and perplexed that I was travelling with so little. I was often asked how do you do it? Some people told their friends hey check out this girl’s luggage! People would say is that all you’re travelling with!?

One girl, that I was sharing a room with in a hostel, started taking clothing out of her large suitcase and insisted on giving it to me.

How to Travel The World With Only A Carry-On Bag

There are two main tips I can give you. If you can do these two things then you will be able to travel with only a carry-on. First, only bring what you need.  Second, make use of all the space you have.

Don’t bring everything you want, bring everything you need

First of all, you can’t possibly bring everything you want. You can however, bring everything that you need. If you want to travel the world with only a carry-on bag you’ll have to make some sacrifices. Pick and choose what will be most important and most useful. For tips and tricks on how to pack light check out this article Packing Light: Travel Tips To Make You Be A Better Packer.

Packing is like a puzzle

For the second tip, roll your clothing to make the most of your limited space. Take advantage of all the little nooks and crannies to fit what you can in your bag. Think of packing like a puzzle. You want to get everything fitting together perfectly so that there are no spaces between the pieces.

To save more space and to organize your items, consider using packing cubes. You can read about my experience with packing cubes NeatPack Packing Cubes Review.

Choosing What to Pack

When deciding what to bring, clothing wise, pick items that are versatile. Pick pieces that you can mix and match with other pieces. If you bring something bigger, like a jacket, then you can carry it with you.

Pack an ultra-light fast dry towel. These take up much less space than a regular towel and work just as well. Additionally, they dry much faster than a normal towel so you don’t have to worry about packing a damp towel.

Toiletries can be one of the biggest and heaviest items that you will pack. Since you don’t need to check in your carry-on bag at airports you’ll have to use travel sized bottles. Your carry-on can only have bottles of liquids that are 100 ml or less. Therefore, having only travel sized toiletry bottles will allow you to easily get through airport security. They also weight a lot less, and take up a lot less room, than regular sized bottles.

Packing Smart and Packing Light

I hope these tips will help you to become a better packer and, if your feeling adventurous, how to travel the world with only a carry-on!

Happy Travels!

Alannah McEwan


(Visited 74 times, 1 visits today)

2 thoughts on “How to Travel The World With Only A Carry-On Bag

  • January 31, 2017, 9:23 pm

    Love this post. I learned the hard way about needing to pack light when after a week of hiking on the Camino de Santiago, I couldn’t handle it anymore and spent about 50 euros to mail back about 12lbs of crap I didn’t need to have. Its eye opening when you realize how much garbage you bring and you learn quick when you have to carry it on your back and hips for 30+ days across all of Spain and Portugal!
    Another tip to reduce your pile is just buy it there. Unless you are travelling to Antarctica or Mars, every place tends to have shops that will sell you toothpaste, shampoo, etc. So unless you need prescription, ditch it!
    My only issue is shoes! But I guess it depends on where you are travelling to.

  • September 28, 2016, 5:14 am

    A very well written and persuasive article. Those ultra light quick dry towels are the best. Use them on backpack trips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *