by Alyssa Ramos
It’s usually a bit shocking when I tell people I only pack one carry on for long term travel, especially since my Instagram makes it seem like I travel with an entire mobile wardrobe. But it’s true!
All I have is one trusty carry-on sized suitcase, and a whole lot of packing tricks and techniques that I’ve figured out during the last six months of full-time traveling.
Why do I pack so light? Aside from saving a ton on checked baggage fees, I also save a lot of time, and a lot of anxiety about people going through my luggage. Actually, that last part wasn’t even a problem until recently, where on two separate occasions I had a mini-drone go missing, and more devastating; a pin from my grandfather’s Ex Prisoner of War hat. Luckily it was just a replica, but it has now made me extremely cautious about what I put in my checked bags.
But anyway! Enough about my reasons why I travel with just a carry-on, and more about how in the hell I manage that! It’s honestly all about having a good bag, packing light, and accessories!
1. Invest in the Perfect Carry On
I’ve gone through a lot of suitcases, and am definitely guilty of suitcase abuse, but my current bag, the Gabbiano from their Gabbi Collection, has given me no problems at all. It’s lightweight, spacious, easy to maneuver, and has built-in TSA-approved locks. More importantly though, it has two features that are essential to the art of carry-on packing — an expandable hard-shell, and zippered section separators.
The hard shell not only helps you optimize the actual area of space you have, but it makes it easier to squish everything down, especially when using the travel space bags. The zippered section separators make it really easy to organize everything, which is also key to packing a carry-on. Because otherwise your stuff is just going to get mixed into a big lump, taking up way more space than is necessary!
Since I usually also use my Gabbiano as a trolley to roll my heavy purse or backpack on, the 360 degree wheels come in very handy. I also really love how many design options they have, from classic sleek, to colorful chic!
2. Only Pack the Clothing Essentials
You don’t need a different outfit for every day that you travel. This isn’t high school, no one is going to judge you or notice if you wear the same things. You know you’re not even going to wear half of what you pack anyway! That’s why you should only pack basic essentials that you can mix and match, and use the rest of your space to accessorize.
So, keeping in mind that this tutorial is for long term travel (1-3 months), and for various weather destinations, here’s what I’d usually include:
– 3 short sleeved tees
– 3 basic tank tops
– 3 long sleeved shirts
– 3 “cute” tops
– 2 jeans
– 2 casual/loose pants
– 2 jumpers
– 2 dresses
– 2 shorts
– 3 bathing suits
– 1 jacket/sweater
– 15 panties
That may seem like a lot, but you’ll see how my technique of folding makes all of that take up hardly any space. Another reason to pack as minimally as possible is that you have room to buy clothing as you go!
TIP: If you find yourself over-packing, lay your clothes out across your bed, and take out anything that looks similar to something else. Or, to be safe, if your pile of flat clothing already looks high, force yourself to put half of it back.
3. Packing and Buying Accessories
The only accessory I pack from home is a basic black scarf that I use in case I’m cold, need to cover my shoulders to be more culturally appropriate, or even as a hijab (head covering, although it’s really not necessary to do that as a visitor in most places). The rest of my accessories I pick up as I go. They’re nothing fancy or expensive, just little lightweight scarves, hats, and jewelry, all of which make it seem like I have WAY more outfits than I really do!
Scarves are really easy to pack, and you can usually roll up any brimmed hat, or just wear it on the plane. Since the actual outfit you wear is just basics, your accessories will stand out even more, and make it seem like you have more outfits than you actually do!