3 Years of Travelling with Hand Luggage Only: Our Packing List Update

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After seven years on the road, many things have changed – see our updated carry-on packing list

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.

Travelling light was one of the best decisions we made when we became digital nomads. We’ve saved ourselves stress, aching backs, and money, as more airlines are charging for checking in luggage. We can pack up all of our belongings in ten minutes and have never felt more liberated.

So what has changed from our original packing list three years ago? We updated our popular packing list post with amends in December 2010 so here we’ll focus on what has changed since then.

Things We’ve Got Rid Of

It’s important when you are travelling light to make everything in your bag count. We regularly reevaluate what we are carrying and get rid of anything we no longer use frequently. We don’t keep things “just in case”.

Martin Backpacker travel guitar – Simon played his guitar every day on our first RTW trip but since we’ve been working while travelling he hasn’t had the time. Sadly it wasn’t worth lugging it around for occasional use.

Traveller’s cheques – They aren’t really necessary these days.

International driving licence – Simon didn’t renew it when it expired as we’ve never needed it.

Erin’s backpack raincover – Simon still has his and it is useful to keep the bag clean on dirty buses and when it rains, but I wasn’t using it often.

Erin’s large packing cube – Simon uses a compression bag within a packing cube for his clothes, but really that’s overkill so I got rid of my cube and just use the compression bag. We still use small cubes for underwear and electronics to keep things organised.

Tiny tabletop tripod – We bought this for our little camera but were’t using it regularly enough to keep it.

Large headphones – Simon snuck these in before we left the UK. He liked having high quality headphones but they took up a lot of space.

Digital watch – We used this for the alarm but once we bought an iPod Touch we no longer needed it.

Erin’s Icebreaker – This was a fantastic warm top for South America but we now try to avoid cold places so I rarely wore it. Simon still has his but could easily get rid of it too.

Montane Featherlight Smocks – Our tiny windproof rain jackets were great for South America but again, as we try to avoid cold and rainy places we weren’t using them. In the tropics it’s too hot for a rain jacket.

Erin’s thermal leggings – I didn’t need these after South America.

Erin’s towel – We always get towels in hotels or apartments so I got rid of mine. Simon’s kept his travel towel for the beach while I now use a sarong.

Things We’ve Changed

We’ve had to buy new compression bags (it’s worth getting strong ones like Packmate or Eagle Creek) and we replace our clothes when they need it. We’ve also upgraded some of our technology.

Macbook Retina – After three years Simon’s Macbook Pro was on its last legs. He upgraded from 13 to 15 inch and went for the retina screen which he loves. When you work on your laptop it’s worth getting the best you can afford. If you are considering one read Simon’s review of the Macbook Retina for travellers on Too Many Adapters. We bought the Retina in the US as prices are the lowest there and then sold his old Macbook using Gazelle which was really easy to use.

Simon with new Macbook Retina

Simon very happy with his new Macbook Retina

Macbook Air – After much procrastination I upgraded my Asus Eee PC to a 11 inch Macbook Air about a year ago and I’m so glad I did. The Eee PC is a great cheap travel laptop if you are just using it for web surfing but not for working on every day and I couldn’t use it for editing photos. The Macbook Air is much faster, more powerful, has a bigger screen, it’s unbelievably light, and it’s also so beautiful that it’s a pleasure to work on. Moving from PC to Mac was wonderful—things just worked much more smoothly.

Canon Powershot s95 compact camera – I use a compact camera when I can’t be bothered to lug my SLR around. Our last compact had been dropped from horses too many times so we upgraded it to the s95. It’s an amazing compact camera with full manual control, HD video, and a large f2 aperture which I especially love for food photography.

Tofu at Tosuiro, Kyoto

Tofu at Tosuiro, Kyoto taken with the Canon s95.

Things We’ve Added

iPhone 5 – We bought our first phone on the road three months ago but we still haven’t used it as a phone. We bought it because Simon is now developing iOS apps, for the camera, and to have the option of internet on the move. We are finding the GPS particularly useful even without 3G. Our app Trail Wallet has made tracking our travel expenses and staying on budget so much easier. The iPhone replaced Simon’s iPod Touch which I now use instead of my iPod nano.

Kindle – A Kindle is a must for every bookworm traveller. I bought the Kindle Keyboard 3G in our first year and it didn’t take Simon long to pick up a WiFi version. Here’s more on why we love the Kindle for travel.

Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet – Simon uses this for design work.

Western Digital My Passport hard drive 1 TB – We now each have one of these hard drives.

USB flash drive – Comes in useful at times.

Sketch pad and copic marker pen– Simon sometimes picks up an A4 pad for his illustration and design work.

Erin’s ballet flats – With just my hiking sandals and shoes I didn’t have anything for more dressy occasions so I now have a lightweight (fabric not leather) pair of ballet flats.[Update: I now wear Tieks which are stylish, comfortable, and pack up small].

Extra tshirt – We’ve both added an extra top.

Extra underwear – We now have five pairs each.

Moisturiser and hair conditioner – I sometimes carry small bottles of these (around 50ml).

Sarong – Great for the beach.

Our Current Packing List

Here’s our up to date packing list for both of us.

A few changes in the summer of 2013 have been made in red, you can read more about them including the switch from DSLR to mirrorless camera and getting an iPad mini here. Also see the changes we made in 2014 including new technology and clothes/shoes. Also see our updated packing list for 2017.

Important Stuff

  • Passport
  • Dollars
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Card reader for online banking
  • Driving licence
  • Spare passport photos
  • Photocopies of passport – also stored on laptops and emailed to ourselves
  • Scuba diving logbook
  • Vaccination card
  • Money belt
  • Wallet


After three years our backpacks are still going strong with no real signs of wear and tear, so it’s always worth investing in a quality bag. [Update 2014: We now both have new backpacks, the Tortuga and Osprey Farpoint 40. See our full review].

  • 40 litre North Face Overhaul 40 backpack (Simon)
  • 30 litre Vango Transit 30 backpack (Erin)
  • Backpack raincover (Simon)
  • 1 small combination lock each – to lock our backpacks
  • Light cable lock – for locking our bags to things
  • Cotton shoulder bag – for a daybag
  • Packing cubes – 1 large for clothes, 1 small for underwear and 1 for electronics (cables, chargers etc)
  • Compression bag each for our clothes – saves lots of space.


Simon’s Clothes

  • North Face hiking shoes
  • Sports sandals (waterproof) – useful for watersports, river crossings, rocky beach walks etc
  • Light Fleece
  • Icebreaker bodyfit baselayer top – made with Merino wool these keep you warm and never smell
  • Travel trousers – light weight, quick drying, zipped pockets. Simon now wear stylish but practical Bluffs.
  • Cord trousers Jeans
  • Shorts
  • 2 x shirts (1 long sleeve, 1 short)
  • 2 x tshirts
  • 5 x underwear
  • 3 x socks
  • Swimming board shorts
  • Sunglasses + travel case

Erin’s Clothes

  • Merrell hiking shoes
  • North Face sports sandals (waterproof)
  • Tieks ballet flats – stylish, comfortable and they fold up small.
  • Light Fleece
  • Cardigan
  • Linen trousers
  • Jeans
  • Skirt
  • Summer dress
  • Shorts
  • 3 x short sleeve tops
  • 1 x tank top
  • 5 x underwear
  • 2 x bras + sports bra
  • 2 x socks
  • Tankini swimsuit
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses + travel case


  • Clear storage cube
  • Riemann once a day suncream (2 x 100ml bottles)
  • 2 x Lush shampoo bars – for hair and body. We have run out but will pick up new ones when we can
  • Toothbrush each + small cover for end
  • Small tube toothpaste
  • Travel size hairbrush
  • Deodorant (small roll-on)
  • Lip balm
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Razor + 2 spare blades
  • Shaving oila tiny bottle lasts 6+ months
  • Moon cup – I think this is essential for travelling women. It takes up less space than tampons (and you don’t have to worry about finding them) and is better for the environment, your body, and your wallet.
  • Insect repellant – when needed
  • Hand sanitiser (small 50ml bottle) – sometimes
  • Moisturiser – I sometimes carry a small (around 50ml) tub
  • Hair conditioner – I sometimes carry a small (around 50ml) bottle


  • Ibuprofen
  • Immodium
  • Dimenhydrinate travel sickness pills
  • Few plasters
  • Prescription medications
  • Ciprofloxacin antibiotic – really useful to have on hand for stomach illnesses. It can be bought cheaply in many developing countries without a prescription.


  • Moleskine – we each have one of these small notebooks
  • A4 sketch pad – for Simon’s illustration/design work
  • Biros, copic marker pen, pencil & rubber
  • Moo business cards
  • Travel towel
  • Sarong
  • Small roll gaffa (duct) tape – fixes everything
  • Head torch each – really useful for places with no electricity or power cuts
  • Earplugs – essential (for Erin, Simon sleeps through anything)
  • Eye mask
  • Tiny sewing kit – a few needles and some thread
  • Few ziplock bags – always come in handy
  • Toilet paper – it’s useful to have a little on hand


See our latest 2017 packing list here.

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Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our 47 Useful Gift Ideas for Carry-On Travellers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.

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147 thoughts on 3 Years of Travelling with Hand Luggage Only: Our Packing List Update

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  4. HI
    How did you pack your DSLR and lenses for these packs. I’m looking at getting the Tortuga. I don’t want to have to carry a separate camera bag too. Although I may have to go with a small camelback pack as my personal item. Just to fit my camera and 2 lenses. Ideas? Can I fit a tripod?

    • I fit my Olympus OMD EM5 camera and 2 lenses in a small shoulder bag (Tamrac 3440) that fits inside my backpack, so I don’t have a separate bag on travel days. You might be able to fit a tripod depending on the size. There’s also the option to strap it on the side of the Tortuga – it has compression straps you could use.

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  8. Thanks for this post, really helpful. My family of 5 (3 kids, 2 adults) are venturing out into some world travel starting this fall. One question – we just bought the awesome Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II camera. Do you use a camera case with it? Basically, I want to know how you pack it when not in use and carry it when in use? I’m trying to stay minimal like you. 🙂

  9. Thanks for posting this! I really struggle with packing and am love reading what you do and how it’s changed… fascinating actually. I’m REALLY struggling choosing a laptop. I’ve never travelled with a laptop but I am going to Ireland for 6 months in 16 days and I plan to do lots of traveling. So I’m trying to decide between the 13″ or 15″ MacBook Pro with retina. These are both super lightweight: the 15″ is only a pound more than the 13″. 3.5 lbs vs 4.5 lbs. With that in mind would you choose the 15″ or in your experience would it still just feel too big and bulky?

    • Hi Kristin, It really depends what you need the laptop for. Simon loves the 15 inch Macbook Pro with retina screen but he does a lot of design and development work so appreciates the bigger screen and more power. I use my laptop for blogging and photo editing and find the Macbook Air 11 inch perfect. It’s super lightweight but still has plenty of power. For me the 15 inch is too big and heavy but for Simon it’s worth it. He says if you are doing graphics, video or playing games then the 15 inch is a good choice, if not the 13 inch will be fine, or the Macbook Air if you’re not too set on a retina screen.

  10. I’m trying to narrow down my pack a bit and checking out your list again. I’m curious about your compression bags. Do they leave your clothes really wrinkly?

    • We used compression bags for five years as they do save space in your luggage. They do leave your clothes a bit wrinkly but we try to choose fairly wrinkle-free clothes anyway. Recently though we switched to using Eagle Creek’s compression packing cubes and have found that we can still fit everything in our bags, plus our clothes are easier to access and less wrinkly. I’d recommend trying them first and if you are really struggling for space try compression bags. You can buy them on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1F5qaDx

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  15. Hey,

    I’m really impressed how you managed to compress your belongings in those two backpacks. And I really love your lifestyle! 🙂

    Regarding the list, a small addition here, since health is somehow sensitive issue. Paracetamol in general is much safer than Ibuprofen, so it might be better to replace it if you don’t need to treat e.g. rheumatic pain. Also, Ibuprofen is quite harmful for your digestive system and cannot be safely taken with other drugs (may cause allergy and bleeding if overdosed). Speaking of allergy: antihistamine drugs would be a nice addition too – you never know what may cause a reaction, even if you’ve never had any allergies, and in a remote and unknown environment it’s just safer to have some. Along with calcium pills.

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  18. Hi Erin,
    I love following your blog. You guys were one of my inspirations behind our decision to travel around the world for 12 months, with hang luggage only. It was so great to find a women’s version of what to pack in carry on only. I love travel sketching and finally got around to illustrating what we took in our hand luggage. Check it out here if your interested http://www.shanteleianna.com/2014/06/19/my-carry-on-packing-list-for-12-months-around-the-world/ Thanks

  19. Wow. You guys are seriously impressive. I thought we were traveling pretty light, but your list is something to behold! We managed to fit our lives into 2 carry on luggages and 2 small backpacks for 6 months abroad. Granted… you guys have been doing this longer. Maybe one day we’ll be able to carry even less, but we were pretty proud of our editing skills 🙂 Check it out >> http://www.cameraandcarryon.com/2014/06/what-we-really-should-have-packed/

    • It definitely gets easier with practice. We didn’t travel carry-on only for our first year-long trip but it gave us the experience to know what we could leave behind when we hit the road permanently. Even though we have way more electronics this time we still have less stuff overall.

      We regularly assess what we’re carrying and get rid of anything we don’t use regularly, so you might find you can reduce further. You are still doing really well though!

  20. Hi,
    I love your blog, it is so inspiring! And this post is very useful since I’m planning to travel for a year with only cabin luggage. I’m a bit worried about the weight, though. I read that you never had problems with it, but I’ve heard that some companies are getting more strict on the 7kg allowance and they weight the hand luggage.
    Any updates on this? Could you please tell which companies have you recently taken?
    Thanks a lot!

    • We have still never had our bags weighed. We check in online so we don’t have to go up to the desk. We’ve travelled with many airlines. The most likely ones to cause problems are budget airlines but we have travelled on Air Asia, Ryanair, Transavia and Pegasus recently without a problem.

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  23. Hi,

    I am from India. You guys are amazing!! I enjoyed all your posts..Very informative.. It came as na amusement that you have sold everything to roam freely like birds 🙂


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  25. Just started my first RTW trip and found this list to be super helpful! Thank you for taking the time to post this info… I feel much more prepared for this crazy undertaking having read through list like yours!

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  28. Just back from 3 months in SE Asia – followed your packing list which was brilliant for warm weather travel. Osprey Farpoint 40 was the best (current/stock) bag I could find; great full support shoulder + hip harness, stiffened rig, all zips away when not in use.

  29. This is a really impressive site. I have kind of been looking into different ways to travel light, and as a student on a budget, I’ve run across a few multi-functional options. I found this garment on the website Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/859693925/cameleon-multi-utility-garment?ref=footer), and I was wondering if anyone has given something like this a try. It serves as a few different dresses, pants, and bags. I think it would be beneficial for the price when wanting to travel light. Any thoughts?

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  31. Thanks, this has been really informational and helpful. Reading this entry really brings my blood boiling with excitement for my rtw trip that I’m planning right now. It really gives me more motivation. I was contemplating which backpack to get to replace my current deuter 55 Liter pack, but after reading this, I might go with the 38 liter pack that I’ve been eyeing on.

    any recommendation as far as daybag goes? rightnow I have a north face recon which I’ve used as a daybag during my last 5 travels. but for long term travel like a year or 2, i’ve been thinking of getting a smaller one tht I can collapse into the main bag.

  32. Hello, love your list!

    I’m taking a three and a half month semester at sea this summer around Europe and I’m hoping you could give me some advice.

    Cameras- I’m really into photography, digital and film, and I’ve decided I just can’t bring both SLRs. So in lieu of my Canon T2i I was going to bring my little canon point and shoot, but I’ve heard it’s no better than the iPhone 5’s built in camera. Hoping you can give me some advice. I’d love to only need carry on bags, and while the camera is pretty small, it’s still space in my bag. Do you think I should rely that much on my iPhone 5?

    Also, for the first week I will be alone in London and Southampton, should I have anything as an added safety precaution? I’m a 20 year old woman and this is my first trip alone (but not my first trip to Europe, I grew up there.)

    Hoping for some sound advice, thank you!!

    • It’s difficult to say. I wouldn’t rely entirely on the iPhone 5 myself, although I use it a lot. It’s a great camera but doesn’t have a good zoom or low light performance. Maybe try it out for a while at home and see how you get on. It really depends how good your point and shoot is in comparison.

      I can’t think of any particular safety things for England. Just the usual stuff about being careful at night, sticking to well lit/busy areas etc.

      Have a great trip!

  33. Thanks for sharing all that information, that’s great. I never heard about the shaving oil and shampoo bar, I think I will give it a try now!
    I also really appreciate your transparency regarding advertising fees you get. That’s very rare from bloggers, which tends to annoy me. So heads up for that! That shows a high level of professional integrity. Another easy way to show that I’ve seen somewhere else is to put a (*) after the links for which you get a fee.

  34. Hi there, I’m setting off to travel the world next year and am currently looking for the right backpack to get. I see the picture of simon’s backpack on his back and it looks way to big to fit under a seat on a plane. how do you manage not checking it??

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  36. What brand are the ballet flats? I’m looking for some flats that are somewhat fashionable, easy to pack, and won’t begin to smell from not wearing flats.

    • I used to just buy cheap ones, whatever I could find depending on where we were. I’ve just got some Tieks though. They are expensive but so far are working out great-loads of great designs, they are designed to be folded in half, and are way more comfortable than most flats.

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  38. Thank you for your inspiring website and 10kg packing tips! I am only travelling for a short time through Africa but I have managed, with your help, to keep it to a 10kg limit in a 45 litre bag. Can’t wait to get going!


  39. Such a great site guys, it is proving invaluable for me. Looks like I’ll be sending back the Caribee Skymaster 75 and going for the 45 instead. I’ve ordered the packing cubes and compression bags and will do a trial run of fitting everything into a 45L bag. My gf is less convinced 🙂 I’ll try and talk her round as I don’t think theres much point in only 1 of you doing carry-on.

    Great to see you’re both Mac converts too. I’m considering downsizing my MacBook Pro to the Air, it’s just storage that’s a problem, 512GB SSD storage is expensive.

    Anyway, thanks again for such a great site.

    • Good for you! And yes, it would be better to have your girlfriend on board! It takes a bit of practice but it’s worth it. The Air will save you weight. I love mine. I’ve partitioned my external drive to use part for back up and part for storing inessential things like movies. The space is a slight issue but it makes you get rid of stuff you don’t really need. I think the prices have come down in the new Airs as well.

      • As you’ll notice from my email address, I actually run a Mac consultancy company so if you have a Mac problem, drop me a line. I tend to buy my Macs from the Apple refurbished store as you normally save 20%. I’m just a little indecisive at them moment as I’m not sure the weight saving justifies the expense. Decisions decisions 🙂

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  41. Hi,
    This is first time for me to travel abroad. I am leaving India and joining my husband in NZ . Plan is to stay there for good. I did go through the traveling list and its very useful, thanks 🙂

    But for the first timer, i better be more aware of the items i MUST take. WHat’s ur recommendation please 🙂

  42. I leave for Colombia in June for a 6 month adventure in South America, I enjoy your blog and appreciate your info! Thanks for sharing.

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  44. Does Simon wear his hiking boots for dressy occasions!? We are super-light packers, but shoes are our Achilles heel, if you’d pardon the pun. ; )

    • Yep! We don’t really go to that many dressy occasions though. He picked the “normalest” looking hiking shoes he could in plain black so they blend in OK. I think it’s easier for guys to get away with it 🙂

      • I kinda solved the “dressy” male shoes situation by getting a very simple and very lightweight pair of black faux leather or canvas flat shoes (a “thinner” version of the Vans) with black laces). They add a little more “bulk” but I only take them to places where I know I will wear them. So that means: my hiking boots, a pair of flip-flops or sandals and the “dressy shoes”. If I cannot by any means, carry all three, I sacrifice the flip-flops and buy very cheap ones at a local market (in countries where these things are very cheap) and at the end of the trip give them to the hotel staff or to someone poor or homeless. If you can spend a couple of bucks on a beer every night you can fork the same amount for a pair of cheap flip flops and give them to someone who needs them.

        • That sounds like a good compromise. Simon has chosen the plainest black hiking shoes he could find so that they can so in more formal occasions too.

  45. We are lugging WAY too much stuff! My partner Barnaby is a recovering hoarder, so I’m way too embarrassed to put a packing list like this on our blog. I’m so super impressed with your tiny bags and tiny list of electronics. We are currently carrying lighting equipment and a tripod in a large suitcase, which of course has consequently been filled with extra unnecessary stuff.

    Barnaby keeps telling me we need extra because we are working on the road, but I don’t agree. This packing list may just win the debate for me!

    Thanks Simon and Erin 🙂

    • I guess it depends whether you actually use everything you travel with regularly. We don’t need anything else but depending on people’s work they might need more. Good luck with downsizing!

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  47. Incredible how you can fit all of your electronics and your clothes and toiletries in these small backpacks. I guess it is much easier if you only travel to hot countries, as you won’t need clunky thermals and down jackets etc.

  48. Wow, I’m amazed at how much you’ve managed to fit into a 30L bag! I keep trying to trim down the things I bring when I’m off traveling. I’ve been inspired to cut it even more.

  49. I am loving the one-bag carry-on deal. We have been RTW twice and have over-packed both times. Not this time!!! Will be taking your advice and going with a 38L backpack – the bonus is that it converts to a duffle and only weighs 1.4kg.

  50. Hello,

    the medical list above…what is •Few plasters???
    is that band aids or something?? I am American and don’t know what Plasters are…

    Enjoying reading your stories, have fun adventuring……


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  52. Wow, you guys have done so well reducing all your gear, I’ve just been away for the weekend with my family and some of them have three bags for 3 nights! It’s amazing how little you actually need, we’re leaving on Sunday for our trip and I’m sure we’ll be able to get rid of some things after a couple of months.

    • My mum is like that – she takes way more stuff for a weekend away than we do forever 🙂 Happy travels and good luck with the reducing. It gets easier when you realise what you aren’t using.

  53. I love traveling carry-on only! I had a 40L and a 20L daypack for my RTW and it worked well most of the time. I did end up on a few flights where they weighed my bag and it was over their low limit, plus a few flights on prop jets where even a 40L won’t fit in the overhead. My goal now is to only use the 40L and have some kind of collapsible daypack that I can put inside the 40L. I might have to look into the compression bags you mentioned.

  54. I love the transparency here. Before we left on our trip just over a month ago, Zab and I used your packing list as a go-to reference when we disagreed about something to pack or not. I’m impressed you got rid of your travel towel, Erin, but it makes sense given the style of travel you’re doing now. It was just funny to read it the same week we were considering buying a second one so as not to have to share one!

    • I’m so glad you found the packing list useful Sam. We find that even budget hotels provide towels so it hasn’t been a problem so far. We rarely stay in hostels these days though.

  55. Impressive. Though we’re working toward making travel our full time jobs, we don’t want to become completely nomadic. We like having a home base. We travel carry-on only most of the time, but I must admit it is nice to come home between trips and only worry about what’s needed specific to the destination we’re headed.

  56. Thanks for the great post! I’ll be using your list to get rid of some stuff we bought over the last year on the road. We usually spend a few months at the same place and basically used this excuse to get more stuff. Bad! How much does your bags actually weight?

      • Hmm, that’s tricky. We have booked one way flights to Cancún on New Years Day (!) and managed to get very cheap flights (not much over £200 each).

        HOWEVER, the airline, who shall remain nameless, stipulates 55 x 40 x 20 cm (not a problem) with 5kg weight (might be a problem)! I will be working on the road so am buying a <1kg laptop but I will struggle to keep below the weight I reckon.

        Shoes are always a heavy item so I recommend wearing the heaviest stuff you've got on a flight (you can always take off boots, jumpers etc on board) and keeping luggage to an absolute minimum.

        Wish us lucky guys!

        • Our bags are over 5kg and we rarely end up getting them weighed and have never been prevented from taking them on because of weight. It’s always a bit of a worry though. Good luck!

  57. Great post there! You never actually need as much as many think you do. Traveling light is the only way to go, so much easier. I find it almost comical to see how much stuff some people pack for a 5 day vacation(multiple large suitcases) when you can take an average sized backpack and last for a year or more just fine. Keep up the good posts!

  58. Great little list. I can’t wait to get rid of everything and just have my carry on. That’s why I sort of hate having my own place as you need things (bedding, frying pans etc) which you know you are just going to chuck away when you get on the road. It feels such a waste of money.

  59. This is a quite useful guide for backpacking. As I often get confuse when backpacking as I find it very hard to decide which things to take and which to left. But after reading your post I hope I will be sure about the things to pack for backpack. I am surprises that you use Canon s 95 because it has not much optical zoom and I believe Sony Hx20 v has better in photography and zoom as well.

  60. We travel with carryon only too, though with bigger bags than you guys have. I like the idea of the speed of goign through airports and such, but it can be a bit of a pain always having stuff on my back. The weight though does remind me to not need as much stuff.

    One thing I didn’t see on your list is some form of daypack. We couldn’t really travel without a daypack to carry water and cameras and such around. I have a backpack that flattens nicely and fits inside (or strapped outside) the luggage.

    • We have a cotton shoulder bag that we use as a day bag which fits inside Simon’s backpack on travel days. When we need something bigger we just empty out my backpack. My camera has its own case (which fits inside my backpack) so I use that when we are out and about.

  61. Quick note: an international driver’s license is a good thing to have as a “gecko’s tail” ID. It’s an official-looking document that’s useful at police roadblocks and such, where it would suck to hand over an ID you might lose. (Works best where the hand-over-ee is unlikely to read English.)

  62. Wow, you guys amaze me! I thought I was good travelling with a 40L through SE Asia, but then had to expand to a 65 for the cooler climes of Northern India and the UK. By the way, I like your frayed skirt, and cannot believe a guy picked that up – I had to go back and look 🙂

  63. I’m back home visiting family but am heading out again next month. This time I am hoping to join you guys in the carry-on club, with a 40L main pack (down from a 55+10L) and a small daypack. One of you is doing it with no daypack? That’s even more impressive. I never wrote up a packing list before, but this time I think I will. There will be a fair amount in common with yours.

    • We really didn’t want to carry two bags each so our day pack had to fold down inside Simon’s main pack. If we need anything bigger such as for hikes then we use my main backpack. Good luck with going carry on!

  64. A great post, which I’ve now bookmarked 🙂 It’s a great resource not just for anyone traveling, but anyone moving abroad, since it’s a reminder that wherever you go, you can acquire whatever you need… and also that you don’t really require that much stuff.

    I also think it’s interesting the extent to which being in warmer climates (and the fact that’s now your focus) necessitates having less stuff.

    • It’s definitely much easier in warmer climates, although we still managed hand luggage only in some chilly parts of South America. I wish we could avoid colder climates altogether and get rid of even more stuff, but I feel the cold too much even with a slight drop in temperature.

  65. Poor Erin, with her frayed skirt! 🙂

    We *almost* kept our belongings down to two bags. Unfortunately our first house-sitting gig commandeered us into bringing along some car parts, which required a 3rd bag. We still have it, and it’s full. But we’re really going to try to get rid of it before we leave the States for our next journey!

  66. I have now just spend the last following some of the links on your gear… when I should have been working! 🙁 I pretty much have my packing routine sorted, but I am aiming to go down in packsize on my next big RTW trip, so your compression bags looked pretty interesting. Thanks for the posts!

  67. We leave for our RTW in 4 months and this is a great list. Can you tell me more about the •Card reader for online banking
    We are planning on each having a Charles Schwab ATM card, a capital one credit card, and a backup bank atm card with like nothing in it (parents will transfer if needed), so curious about the card reader. Thanks again


    • The card reader is something our bank makes us have to do certain transactions on internet banking for security. I think it’s a British thing, as quite a few banks there have them but I haven’t heard of it in the US. Sounds like you have a good backup system in place.

  68. Your initial packing list and posts brought me to your site. Three years later, I still love how you guys pack. Your bags look so small. I too travel light with carry on only. However, I have a go lite back and it compresses from about 70 liters to 35 (or 40). So it gets hard to limit myself sometimes.

    thanks for all your updates on packing!

  69. Pingback: How to Travel Long Term With Only Carry-On Luggage

  70. It’s amazing how little you actually need to live and travel! Tony & I were really proud of ourselves for each having packs that are less than 50L, but we also have daypacks which we use for all of our electronics and camera gear. Would love it if we could consolidate to just one bag apiece, but it is actually quite hard! And unfortunately for us, although our larger bags do technically meet carry-on standards, in Asia many of the budget airlines have a 5kg carry-on max which is just far too little for us… So while we have been able to carry-on all of our bags some of the time, unfortunately we have had to check them a few times too.

    That said, by using such small bags we really can’t overpack and neither of our bags is over 10kg, which is perfectly fine for hauling them around. Whenever we have to walk long distances with our packs strapped on, we always remark about how glad we are that we don’t have larger bags!

      • I’m reading that carry on in Asia is limited to 17 x 14 x 8 at 15 lbs Max. My current carry on is a Patagonia at 20.5 x 13.5 x 7…which I will have to check for our flight from Hanoi to Siem Reap. Traveling in Vietnam and Cambodia for 18 days, doing a Mekong River cruise. Thinking I may have to check my carry on for that one flight, wondering if anyone has a carry on that fits ALL international carry on specifications? Thanks! Dolores

  71. Great post! I did pretty well packing light when I was on my RTW back in 2004 but it’s been a little harder as a digital nomad, so this is really helpful. Packing for only one climate at a time would definitely make things easier!

    • It can be harder as a digital nomad but basically electronics take priority over clothes now 🙂 We actually travel with less than we did on our RTW trip before we were digital nomads.

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