We’ve been living out of a small carry-on sized backpack each for nearly four years. It contains all our worldly belongings and everything we need to live and work around the world. We love the simplicity of travelling with just hand luggage, the convenience of skipping baggage collection queues and airline fees, and the peace of mind knowing that our bags are always with us. It has been so long that we can’t imagine living any other way—more stuff just seems unnecessary.
After three years of travelling with hand luggage only we are convinced that it’s the best way to travel. We are happy with our decision every time we whiz through an airport in ten minutes while others are crowding around the baggage carousel; every time we waltz onto a bus without worrying if our bags will emerge from the luggage storage at the end of our journey; and every time we have to walk more than a few minutes with our backpacks on our backs.
We are travelling permanently with only carry-on luggage, having sold the rest of our belongings. I have a 30 litre backpack and Simon has a 40 litre backpack and a small travel guitar. It’s been surprisingly easy to live with such small bags and to fit everything we need into them, including two laptops and an SLR camera. Life is actually much simpler when you own less.
So what do you pack when you are leaving with no plans to return?
Well, as little as possible. Although we have no idea how long we’ll be on the road, we shouldn’t need to pack more than we would for a one month trip. Travelling light makes things a lot easier – you can walk around trying to find a place to stay, you can squeeze on a crowded bus and you can run to catch a train. For this trip we are aiming to travel with small enough backpacks that we can fit them on planes as hand luggage to save time at airports, and hopefully be able to take them inside South American buses rather than put them on the roof.
We admire ultralight packers like Tim Ferris and Karol Gajda from Ridiculously Extraordinary, but unfortunately we haven’t managed to do quite as well ourselves. Still, we haven’t done too badly as our backpacks are half the size of most travellers’.
Check out our very first video to see us packing our stuff!