When I tell people that we’re going hand luggage only for our 6-month round the world trip, a lot of them visibly boggle. I think everyone imagines the list of things they have, use and love and tries to cram the whole lot into a handbag. Except, of course, packing for a long trip isn’t like that.
Why we’re going hand luggage only
- It’s cheaper – no baggage fees.
- We’ll be more mobile – we can run for a bus or walk to a hotel
- It’s really not that hard – have to do laundry at some point, right?
After 15 years of travelling on budget airlines, I could teach a degree course in packing light and getting away with more than you’re strictly allowed. Most of my trips have been between the place I share with K (wherever that is!) and my parents’ home in Switzerland. As a result, most of the holiday packing rules didn’t apply, so I could experiment more freely. I’ve learned that you can travel indefinitely on the stuff you’d take for a week.
Most travellers and bloggers who list their luggage don’t seem to include perishables on their list, which I find unhelpful, particularly if you’re trying to get everything through the 10 x 100ml airport security bottleneck. Here’s everything I had in Iceland, details below. Or if you’d like to compare, you can see what I took on our last US trip in 2011.
Clothes – zip-off trousers (2); thermal leggings; capri leggings; vest tops (2); thermal base layer; jersey dresses (2); bras (5); underwear (9); socks (3); swimsuit; bikini; fleece; no coat; sandals; hiking ‘shandals'; running shoes; head kerchief; ‘rain tent’ poncho; no umbrella
Gifts well, I’m not going to list them all out, but everything hidden in the orange carrier bag is staying in Charlotte. That’s the new baby effect!
Liquids – deodorant; eczema cream (2); toothpaste; nail varnish (2); nail varnish remover; sun cream; Euceta bug bite cream
Other toiletries – disposable razors (2); tweezers; nail scissors; soap; Lush solid shampoo (in a yoghurt pot); electronic toothbrush (plus charger and spare heads); cotton pads; cotton buds; hair brush; hair ties (2); ‘first aid kit’ (ibuprofen, paracetamol, cocodemol, plasters, K meds) (don’t worry, we’ll buy mosquito nets, anti-malarials and bug spray before we need them); vitamins (6 months supply); Moon Cup; sanitary towels (about 5?)
Tech – laptop (plus adapter, kettle lead, mouse, headphones and pouch for all these wires); Kindle (plus cable); phone (plus travel sim); camera (plus a charging cable, 2 spare batteries, their charger, and some spare SD cards); Fitbit pedometer (plus charging cable); European to US plug adapters (2)
Eating and drinking – water pouch (500ml); plastic knives (2); plastic spoons (4 because I loved the folding ones that come free in Skyr in Iceland); at least one bar of chocolate and usually something like trail mix or granola bars; instant coffee packets (one-cup size, nicked from a hotel) (about 3?); sugar packets (about 3?); usually a banana, apple, peanut butter (in liquids bag for flying) or some other random food we didn’t quite finish up
Misc – reservation print outs; notecards (plus clip) (2); pens (2); swimming goggles; spare glasses; sunglasses; inflatable neck pillow; inflatable back support; mini sewing kit; little box of costume jewellery; money belt; wallet; passport; driving licence; some cash; padlock (plus cable) for luggage or lockers; travel towel; ear plugs; business cards
Knitting stuff – 2.5mm sock DPNs in carrying tube; pouch of interchangeables with cables; crochet hooks (2); darning needle; stitch markers (about 5?); needle size guide; yarn bought in Iceland (2)
Bags – 44L Cabin Zero bag; 12L Mountain Warehouse daypack; cotton Sperm Whale WhaleBag handbag; mesh laundry bag with zip; drawstring laundry bag for dirty stuff; assortment of plastic bags
I’ve tried to list every single thing I’m currently carrying. I don’t know how much the bag weighs (I suppose I could find out) but it’s been cleared onto 3 flights so far with no problems. Most of the things on the list are pretty small, and some stray back and forth between my bag and K’s. On our first day in Iceland, I walked about 10km with the bag, and it was fine, and in Boston we both ran for the train with our luggage. I was so glad we could, as both times saved us at least one taxi, and a bunch of money.
I really believe that travelling light doesn’t have to mean being deprived en route. If I’d brought more luggage, it would probably mostly be clothes, and let’s face it no one really looks at me much at the moment!