10 Tips to rock the Carry-On Life
I snuggled into a quiet spot at the San Francisco airport and settled in for my 6hr layover. My flight from Australia had been full of crying babies, getting hit in the head with a food cart and sitting beside a woman having night terrors….this experience left me with a few bruises and little sleep. It was just after Christmas and all I wanted to do was get home and celebrate with my family. My phone buzzed. The message read….. FLIGHT CANCELLED!! A day later, a very long sprint across the Denver airport to catch my connecting flight and I finally made it home. Unfortunately, my luggage did not.
I wish I could say that the experience of this trip was abnormal, but after visiting 26 countries, I have finally accepted and learned to laugh at my bad luck. Now instead of calling it quits on travelling, (insane) I have learned to accept and accommodate to these little adventures. When your life is literally on your back and not buried in the belly of a 747, bumps in the road become a lot easier to handle. For my past 2 major trips which were both 1-2 months in length, I have successfully traveled with a 36L backpack and a shoulder bag!
Let me explain how:
1.Colour Coordinate Clothing
This is a must for me. By keeping a colour scheme, you can build multiple different outfits with only a few pieces of clothing to allow space for other essentials. I love this idea so much I have even carried it over into my whole wardrobe. It makes getting dressed way easier especially, if you are in a hurry running from one country to the next.
2. Plastic bags or Packing cubes
You can opt for the packing cubes for a more eco- friendly option, however both of these items do wonders when travelling light. I like to separate my socks, underwear, bathing suits/bras and t-shirts all into plastic bags. This helps for easy access when you are digging through your pack. Instead of tossing clothes everywhere, you simply just find the ziplock bag you need. Voila!
Most airlines allow for one carry-on as well as a purse/laptop bag. Take advantage of this!! There are a few reasons why I picked a shoulder bag. A shoulder bag can easily swing in-front of your body and this is important so you can avoid theft on trains or in big crowds. It also frees up your hands. I can carry my backpack and shoulder bag and still sprint through the airport when having a short time between connecting flights. This is also super handy when moving from hostel to hostel. Also, no one really enjoys those people who are constantly getting out of their seat on a plane/bus to reach the overhead compartment. You can avoid being one of those people because shoulder bags are usually just big enough to fit everything you would need for multiple hours but not to big that you can’t have it under your seat. All of the important and essential items go in this bag. Digging through your pack/or suitcase every time you need something is tedious so I make sure these specific items are in my shoulder bag:
– small reusable water bottle
– phone and charger-any important papers
-half of my money (other half goes in my backpack in case of theft)
-gum and other snacks
– hand sanitizer-baby wipes-sunglasses/glasses
4. Eau natural…because you are BEAUTIFUL!
Ditch the hairdryer, curling iron and straightener! These take up soooo much room and most hotels and some hostels will already have a hairdryer in the bathroom. Throw in a hat, toque or buff for those bad hair days.
I love reading books and even though I prefer hardcover you can always find me reading my kobo while traveling. The amount of books I can choose to read is endless. Remember to download a few before you leave if you are worried about having no internet. And most important, it takes up very little space.
6. Multi- purpose clothing
To pack light you need to find items that are multipurpose. I bring a sarong which doubles as my towel, a scarf and a blanket for those chilly airplane rides. Although it may have the same stigma as fanny packs, zip off pants are the sh**. I prefer Marmot Lobos Convertible pants . They are cheap, durable and loose fitting which I find great for long travelling days. If you are going to a colder climate, your leggings can double as a base layer and your buff as a neck warmer. The same goes for shoes. Try to find a comfy pair you can walk in but can still dress up. I wear my Blundstones everywhere. They are both classy and practical. And of course Thinx panties are a must! These handy garments mean you don’t have to pack or pay for feminine products, they help the environment and are proven to decrease the amount of time you are on your period!!
7. Sample size toiletries
The rules and regulations of flying allow for 100ml per container up to a max of 1L. All containers must fit into a tiny plastic bag. Note if you are going on a trip longer than three weeks you will have to restock some of your toiletries. However, to get through customs with relatively little hassle try these tips…. head to a Drug Store and ask the make-up clerk for some free samples. You should be able to stock up on all essentials relatively cheap. If the thought of leaving your foundation at home is stressing you out and you really cannot do without (remember you are BEAUTIFUL and do not need it) at least buy one that has a SPF in it. I recommend Burt’s Bees | BB Cream. Another must in my bag is coconut oil. It has many purposes and I use it on my hair, as lotion and it is a great natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial if you have pesky cuts that refuse to heal.
8. Roll your clothes
Crazy, I know, but it works and your clothes will end up taking up less space. PLUS it prevents them from wrinkling.
9. The Pack
Try your best to purchase a small pack which forces you to pack light.Overpacking is an easy thing to do if you have extra room. There are many packs available for sale and it can be overwhelming when shopping for one, but I recommend the Osprey KYTE 36. I love this pack because not only can I access it from the top and the bottom but it is extremely durable. I also pack the MEC Travel Light Daypack. This pack is awesome to use for a day hike or beach outing. It allows you to leave your large backpack safely at the hostel but allows for more room then your shoulder bag.
I use Tide Travel Sink Packets. These are great. They are incredibly small packets of detergent meant to be used for washing your clothes in a sink or bathtub. There are two little packets which will usually last me 2 weeks or more.
But, you ask, “what do you really gain by packing light?” Go without the comforts of home for a few weeks or even a month. It is a humbling experience when you realize how little we truly need to live and a feeling of gratitude when we recognize how fortunate we are to have more than we need. The next time you travel, I challenge you to see what you can pack in your carry on and what you can leave behind!!