Travelling carry-on only is a feat most people thing is only possible for a few weeks, maximum a month but in this post I want to share my best tips to lighten your load for your endless days on the road.
1. Buy your bag first
Most people underestimate this tip, but most people think about what they want or need to bring and then get a bag to fit it all in and end up with a 70L+ bag that is just unnecessary. Decide what bag you want and then fill it. My top recommendations for Carry-On bags are: Kathmandu Federate Adapt Pack or the Away The Bigger Carry-On, and honourable mention goes to: Osprey Fairpoint/Fairview 40L.
2. Minimise your skincare, haircare and makeup routine
This tip may be difficult for some people but hopefully if you try it out you'll realise less is more -- pick your essentials and fit them into a 1 litre snap-loc bag. An example list of essentials would go something like: shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash, moisturiser, sunscreen, deodorant, toothpaste/brush, foundation, concealer, bronzer, eyeshadow quad, brow pencil, mascara, BOOM that's it. I would say those are great essentials and you could probably have room for one or two extra luxury items like a facial serum or lipstick. Something like rosehip or argan oil is a great addition because a little goes a long way and it can be used for face or hair.
3. Invest in solid toiletries and makeup
This is a tip if you can't abide to the above and you have all these other liquids that you feel like you need, turn your essentials into solids. Things like solid shampoo and conditioner are really common these days and of course the OG solid soap. Also invest in a foundation stick and a sunscreen stick, two easy swaps that minimise the liquids situation.
4. Pack a capsule wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is basically all your essential clothing items in colours and styles that go with each other. I have a post with my ultimate 25 item round the world capsule wardrobe that you can check out but basically, like with the skincare, pick your essentials and coordinated them. I have a post coming soon on how to curate your own capsule wardrobe for any trip.
5. Use all your classic packing hacks to maximise space
Packing cubes, rolling your clothes, wearing your bulky items etc. If you've watched any packing hacks video or read a packing tips blog post you'll have heard of these, and if you haven't there's plenty of the same stuff all over the internet. These will help you to minimise your not so minimal packing list.
6. Utilise your "personal item"
Most airlines these days allow you to have one main cabin bag and then an additional "personal item" which can be something they describe as a briefcase, purse or small backpack. Put all your essential and smaller items in here, and bulkier things in your main bag. Just keep in mind that some budget airlines only allow one carry on item so be sure to check before you fly.
7. Insulated layers
But what if I'm travelling in winter or to a colder climate? Insulated layers is the key to keeping warm while travelling light. Think, thermals, puffer jackets and merino sweaters, these will keep you warm without the bulk.
8. Mirrorless cameras
If you're trying to pack light downsizing your camera set up is definitely a big step and that includes the camera itself. Many brands nowadays have great mirrorless cameras that perform just as well as DSLRs but are much lighter and more compact. I would recommend doing your research to find out what is best for your needs and budget and go in store as well as online to find out all the info.
9. Ditch the what ifs and just in cases
Consider the things you use in daily life that you really need, and then pretty much if its not on that list then don't bring it. You can always pick stuff up while you're on the road as you need it but stop packing all those 'just in case' items. You know yourself and what you need and use, let go of the doubts and trust your gut. I will mention though, it is smart to bring some medications that you don't normally use like antidiarrheals and antibiotics, as when you're travelling your risk of getting sick is increased and its definitely more handy to have some medications on hand than having to go out and find a pharmacy and then translate what you need and pay for it.
10. Just do it!
Although these are great strategies to minimise the amount you take with you on the road, the real challenge is overcoming your mental stigma and throwing yourself in the deep end. People have been doing it for years and so can you, and once you do, you'll find it incredibly liberating and low-stress that you'll never go back.