Travel Packing List for a Carry-On Trip

Travelist - Travel Packing List for a Carry-On Trip

When we announced to our friends and family that we were embarking on an 8-month journey around the world with nothing but carry-on bags, one of the first questions was “But...HOW? How will you pack all your belongings in one carry-on suitcase?”, complete with looks of shock and mouths agape. 

Travelist - Travel Packing List for a Carry-On Trip

As a woman, I never thought bringing only a small bag and backpack would actually make my life SO much easier - when there is less to choose from, our brain experiences less decision fatigue and is relieved - also I could live in workout clothes forever #flatteringAF.

After setting up our travel plans, we decided to go "travelist", travel minimalist style. As we realised that we will travel mostly to warm-ish places, I started to think about what to pack for a worldwide trip.

Here’s the trick: Our travel plans include various part of the USA in summer, Greenland in September, ascending Everest Base Camp sometime in November, and will be around South America, Europe, and Asia attending weddings in-between. All the clothes needed for this trip had to fit in a carry-on sized duffel bag and a backpack, including electronics, toiletries and wedding outfits.

Challenge accepted!

So the key to our travel packing list is minimalism: if you are traveling for an extended period of time with only a carry-on luggage, you will need to accept that you won’t be able to be Instagrammable every day. For me, that meant spending my time mostly in yoga pants and workout clothes - basically the dream.

Also, be honest with yourself: if you haven't worn that t-shirt or haven't been able to pair that funky pair of pants with anything, it shouldn't make your travel packing list. Think essentials. 

We got rid of 90% of our belongings in Dubai before leaving, donating most of our clothes to charity and selling as much furniture as we could. We then left with nothing else to our names but our backpacks and duffels, which did feel weird at first - in a surprisingly liberating way. We were FREE!

Travelist - Travel Packing List for a Carry-On Trip

Since we started our trip in the USA, we knew we would find some Target stores with cheap and good enough quality clothes, in case we felt like replacing something. The same applies for stores such as Primark in Europe. So bear this in mind: in case you need something urgently (such as an American-flag top for July 4th, for example…), you should be able to find a $5 top or a 10-pack of socks for $8 pretty much wherever.

I can't stress this enough: You don’t NEED to pack that outfit you haven't worn in 5 years “Just in case the occasion presents itself where it'll match with a wall pattern for the perfect Insta pic”. Forget it, move on.

Think practical, and neutral colours in your travel packing list - remember that accessories can go a long way!

Another thing to remember is that if you’re heading to a country where travelers/backpackers are present, you will find laundromats conveniently located next to hostels/motels/hotel areas. If not, remember that hand-washing is always an option, as long as you can find a sink and somewhere to dry your clothes. 

You then only need to bring enough clothes for a week-ish, provided you can wash them once a week. Undies and socks can be hand washed in the sink if necessary too! #HoboLife


Here’s my travel checklist for a RTW trip:

THE Duffel bag

This little beauty is an Eastpak wheeled duffel bag - much more practical than your usual backpack (it has wheels!) it is perfectly carry-on sized and fits all my essentials.


Find your own here!




Travel checklist: Clothing

  • 2x workout shorts - these can double up as PJs and casual wear

  • 3x yoga pants/leggings for workouts/hikes or just to lounge

  • 1x pair of funky pants or a nice skirt - because sometimes you just need to feel a little fancier! 

  • 4x nice tops - to feel and look good, because sometimes it’s necessary!

  • 2x long sleeves tops: in case it gets chilly at night!

  • 4x workout tops - comfy and perfect for hikes/casual going out

  • 1x nice dress - to go out at night or weddings/occasions

  • 1x bikini, of course

  • 10x pairs of underwear - better safe than sorry here

  • 2x nice bras - for the tops which don’t allow sports bras :)

  • 5x sports bras - I find them so comfy, I could wear them everyday - also good for workouts/hikes etc

  • 10x pairs of socks - less if you’re going to a flip-flops only destinations. I wear sneakers a lot, so socks are indispensable!

Already planning your trip around the world? Let us help...

Travel checklist: Toiletries and make-up bag


Travel checklist: Shoes

  • 1x pair of sneakers - I wish I had space to bring 2 pairs, as I wear them a lot, but they do take SO much space. I use them to hike, for long walks and workouts. Remember to travel wearing your biggest items! My favourite sneakers are adidas Ultraboost

  • 1x pair of black flats - for semi-formal occasions

  • 1x pair of black flip flops - for casual days

  • 1x pair of nude block heels for weddings - I could have bought those on the road, but wasn’t sure if I was going to find the right ones. Remember, you can buy pretty much anything on the road if you’re missing something!


Travel checklist: Extra

Hair Dryer: I decided against bringing a travel hair dryer and did well - most motels in the USA have one, and for the ones who don’t, nothings better than air dry! This, of course, depends on your hair and preferences.

Hair Straightener: Same goes. I’m team #IDGAF, but if you do, make some space for it.

Accessories: Sometimes you will want to up your look. Bring a nice pair of earrings, a nice necklace or a couple of bracelets, but remember to keep it small! Place in a separate pouch to find them easily.

Electronics: We will make a separate post for “What’s in our backpacks” for electronics, but basically I brought my laptop, a MacBook Air, my Kindle, my iPad, our DJI Spark drone + batteries and my iPhone.

Note: Havn’t used my iPad once - again, only bring what you really use daily, not what you think you will need. Also, chargers and cables take space and get messy, so I would advise to plan a special pouch just for them!

A small towel: in case you aren’t staying at hotels/motels, make sure to bring a small towel that dries quickly!

A scarf/shawl: From covering your shoulders in conservative places or in a freezing mall, to a small pillow in the plane, a scarf can go a long way!

Packing tips for a trip around the world:

  • ROLL everything! Tops, pants, everything can be rolled to save space.

  • Start packing your luggage with the big pieces (pants, long sleeves) and fill gradually with tops, shorts etc. Leave the underwear/socks/small items for the end, where you will put them wherever you can find space.

  • Fill your sneakers with socks/underwear - there must be no lost space inside this bag!

  • Pack your jewelry in a small pouch, so you don’t lose any earring part or rings.

  • Make use of ALL the pockets of your bag. Our Samsonite duffel is perfect as it has many pockets, allowing us to reserve one for underwear and one for dirty laundry, for example. You also learn quickly in which pocket specific items are, which is easier than in a suitcase with no pockets!

  • Put your make up and toiletries in a see through pouch: this way, it’ll be easier to know where exactly is what you need!


Do you have any other traveling packing list tips? Let us know below!


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