Long-Term Travel With ONLY Carry-On Bags

Yes.  You read that correctly.  We plan to travel for more than one year with only a carry-on backpack on each of our backs.  By traveling with carry-on bags, we are able to more easily maneuver on crowded streets and trains.  We are able to keep our belongings with us, rather than have them lost by the airlines or bus companies.  Besides, there is the limitation of being able to carry the weight of all that we pack.  This is minimalism at its finest!

Packing Challenges

We had a number of things to consider when making our decisions about what clothing to bring.  One thing that makes this first year of travel tricky for us is that we are packing for multiple climates—from warm tropical beaches to high-altitude mountain ranges.   Another challenge is that we are frugal—we wanted quality items that will last a year of heavy use, but not be too expensive.  Finally, not only do we need to carry our clothing in these carry-on bags, but we also need to carry other items like a computer, additional supplies for our hobbies, a water filter, medicines, and toiletry items (but more on those items in a future post!).  Although we have many things in common, we pack completely differently!

Emily’s Clothing Pack List

Emily chose to travel with the ebags TLS Motherlode Weekend Convertible Junior bag.  The bag measures 19.5”x14”x9” and is about 40L in size.  She uses 2 packing cubes in order to keep everything organized.  Like a capsule wardrobe, everything is color-coordinated to make mixing, matching, and layering easy.  Her list includes:

  • 3 short-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • cardigan
  • light-weight coat
  • raincoat
  • thermal set (top and bottoms)
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • pair of jeans
  • pair of yoga capris
  • dress
  • skirt
  • belt
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras
  • nightgown
  • swimsuit
  • swim shirt
  • scarf
  • pair of mittens
  • hat
  • boots, sneakers, sandals, ballet flats (1 pair of each)

Ryan’s Clothing Pack List

Ryan chose to travel with a lightweight foldable Oricsson 35L  Dayback from Amazon.  His bag measures 20”x13”x7.5”, but he says it seems more like a 30L pack, rather than the 35L they claim.  This bag empty only weighs 0.7 pounds!  He packs his clothes by rolling them and then placing rubber bands around the rolls to keep them compressed.  His list contains:

  • 3 short-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • thermal shirt
  • 2 light-weight jackets
  • rain poncho
  • 2 pairs of pants that unzip into shorts
  • pair of pajama pants
  • belt
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • pair of gloves
  • 2 hats
  • pair of flip flops and boots

And we don’t want to fail to mention that we each have an additional “personal item” with lots of security features—for Emily it is the PacSafe Citysafe CX convertible backpack (which easily converts from a small backpack to a purse) and for Ryan it is a Travelon laptop messenger bag.

Carry-on for long-term travel is possible

We found it very helpful to see what other long-term travelers have packed—some pack so much more and some pack so much less.  Since we have been married, we have traveled carry-on only for all of our vacations.  It just makes the trip easier and also cheaper to not have to pay those expensive checked luggage fees.  We hope we encouraged you to think about traveling with on carry-on luggage for your next trip!

P.S.  The Travel Fashion Girls website was an incredible resource in helping Emily create her pack list.

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