Zen and the Art of Traveling Strictly Carry On

-Keeping it light…..

A lot of people ask me how I can travel for weeks at a time, flying across the globe and use only a carry on? There are obvious pros to using just a carry on bag. No lost luggage, no waiting at the carousal, having access to all you stuff all the time. Then there are the cons. Having to keep liquids under 100 ml, always carrying your bag everywhere  in the airport and of course, having to keep your pack list to a minimum.

Osprey Packs

Osprey Porter 46

The following is an overview on how I can live out of a carry on and travel for a month. First, the maximum carry on luggage size is normally no more than 46 liters, for this article I’m using an Osprey Porter 46 a favorite of mine that has made over 80 flights with me so far.  My trip is going to take me through Thailand and Central Europe so I am packing for tropical and winter temperatures. The following is my pack list:

2 pairs of jeans
2 1/4 zip fleeces
2 pairs of cargo shorts
2 pairs of board shorts
5 tshirts 50/50
5 pairs of smartwool socks
5 pairs of boxer briefs
1 pair of running sneakers
1 winter fleece hat
1 pair slim “liner gloves”
1 top & bottom base layer
1 small Canon Camera
1 armband iPhone case
1 toiletries bag
1 tablet ( Nexus 7)
1 power adapter
2 charger cables
1 External Battery Charger

Besides what I’m packing, this is what I was wearing when beginning my trip. A North Face Apex jacket, 1/4  zip fleece, tshirt, boxers, socks and a pair of hiking shoes. Try to wear the bulkier things to save on space. Avoid packing anything with a hood as they take up much more space. Wear a jacket that has an attached hood instead. Stuff socks inside shoes & roll everything to save space and avoid wrinkles. Stick a scented dryer sheet in your pack to keep everything fresh smelling.

Although I would rather travel with a small laptop such as an  Airbook, every square inch and ounce counts. Packing some clothes that you are willing to leave behind to make room for new clothes you purchased is also a good option. When I arrive in Thailand I just purchase a pair of flip-flops cheap from a street vendor that I’ll leave behind.

Here is me on a recent trip to Novi Sad, Serbia packing all my gear in a couple of minutes (Thank you Andi for your steady hand filming this time-lapse)


Keeping liquid sizes under 100ml can be a pain. I pack bar soap & a deodorant stick which lesson my liquids. 100ml toothpaste tubes and shaving cream can be purchased at most stores as well as empty 100ml TSA approved containers that you can fill with shampoo or lotion. Many other smaller items can be found at hotels or just purchased along the way as needed.

Another concern when packing light is how often you can do laundry. Hotel laundry service can be costly. Instead do a Google search on places to do self serve or drop off laundry close to wear you are staying.

I believe with smart planning and limiting unnecessary items you can travel infinitely with a carryon. Do you have a packing secret or tip to share?

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