Carry-On Bag Adventures

Carry-On Bag Adventures

Are you more like a carry-on bag or a checked bag?

Traveling the world with just a carry-on bag, collecting sim cards as souvenirs, is one of my life goals that I’m slowly fulfilling one adventure at a time. It IS possible to live several weeks out of a carry-on bag and a personal item like a purse or backpack. Smart packing on my recent trip to Bulgaria and Albania proved it true once again. Most airlines have a size or weight limit to the carry-on bags so check before you go. Use a capsule wardrobe; take multi-tasking items; and take a few thank you gifts which will leave room for a souvenir or two. Add my bathroom bag, my tablet or laptop, and my coffee thermos, and I’m ready for my next adventure! 

Capsule wardrobes are a small collection of essential items and accessories that can mix and match and allow you to pack less clothes overall. For most trips I try to take 4 or 5 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 shoes, 1coat/sweater, and 1 accessory like a necklace or scarf. All of the tops and bottoms should be able to be worn together so choose a color palate you like. Try to think about a week’s worth of outfits no matter how long you travel. If you are going longer than a week, find a laundry facility or wash things in the sink. Don’t forget underwear, socks, and pajamas. Pretty much that’s it. Pinterest is full of capsule wardrobe ideas and round the world travel packing suggestions.

Even my bathroom bag has multi purpose items. Liquids: roller perfume, Tide to go stick, bug spray, hair spray, hair gel, and hand sanitizer. Bar/Solids: deodorant, shampoo bar, make up, sunscreen stick, and 18-in-1 bar soap. Plus some sanitizing wipes and tissues. I also pack a Norwex towel if it will fit. Instead of an umbrella, I take a hooded raincoat. Some hotels have umbrellas to borrow which can come in handy if you end up in a rainy city like Sofia, Bulgaria! I slip a small empty cross body purse or a reusable grocery bag into my luggage for day use.

My travel water bottle is stainless steel so I can carry hot or cold liquids. I have been known to prioritize a mini electric tea pot in my 17 lb carry-on bag weight limit so I can make hot drinks in my room or boil water. Since their first public sales in 2009, I have always had an emergency Starbucks Via in my wallet. Maybe our definition of “emergency” is different, but my need for a cup of hot coffee at a moment’s notice has made me think outside the box. (But that’s a whole another blog post!) I always take some when I travel and have been known to slyly add it to inferior coffee to get by. 

Years ago my husband and I purchased Osprey backpacks for carry-ons. Some people love carry-on bags with wheels, but when your lodging is a half mile down a cobblestone street or up 6 flights of stairs, you’ll be happy that your carry-on has a handle or backpack straps. For transit, I usually wear the carry-on backpack style and the personal item crossbody style. I feel a little like a turtle, but my belongings are attached to me.

If we do take checked bags, it is usually items we are bringing for expat friends we are visiting. Traveling light makes it easy to repack or move when necessary. It also makes the “what do I wear” decision faster! Always check with your transportation company to see what the size and weight restrictions are. If you worry that you could not get by without a checked bag, start with a weekend adventure and a carry on bag and go from there. Where will you travel next?

Want more ideas on how to use multi purpose soap? Check this out! I’m not ready for the toothpaste version, but I have used it to watch clothes in sinks. Need waiting game ideas for airport layovers? Check this out!

Table talk: Is your packing style more like a Boy Scout or MacGyver? How can you pack less when you travel? Where do you hope to travel to this coming year?

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