Are you considering joining the movement of packing and traveling lighter? Well, then you’ve come to the right place. Marty and I have been practicing minimalist packing using only a backpack for years.
We have traveled with only our backpacks for years and love not only the freedom of not having a bag but also the money that we’ve been able to save on baggage fees. LOL!
This type of travel does take some careful planning. So to save you from some of our packing fails, we wanted to share with you our ultimate carry-on only packing list. This list is great whether you are hitting the beach or the mountains!
This is the third post in our minimalist travel series. The first step in succeeding in minimalist travel is to have a great backpack, so we started this series with The Best Travel Backpack for Europe…and Beyond. This post will help you choose the best backpack for your travels before moving you on to the second post in the series, How We Travel With Only a Backpack, which provides you with all of our tips to make traveling with only a backpack easy and fun.
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Carry On Only Packing List
The purpose of this post is to ensure that everyone can travel easily using only carry-on luggage, which for us is our backpacks. I’ve broken this list down into different categories that you can add to or delete based upon your needs.
For instance, if you aren’t traveling out of the country, then you obviously don’t need your passport. Our categories include must-have items, clothing, electronics, and health & beauty.
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Must-Have Items For Carry On Only Packing List
You definitely don’t want to leave home without your passport if you’re heading out of the country. Be sure that your passport is up to date and ensure that it won’t expire during your trip. You want to be sure you can get home! I always put my passport in one of the small pouches in the front of my bag to ensure I have easy access to it at the airport. Once I’m through airport security, I then put my passport in a more secure place further inside my bag.
Having an extra identification document, like your driver’s license, never hurts. Besides, if you’re renting a car at your destination, you will need it anyway.
Download your boarding passes to your mobile phone or take a screenshot of it if you’re afraid that you won’t have internet access.
Copies of Your Important Documents
Absolutely make copies of your important document including your passport, debit/credit card, and local ID. We not only carry copies of these documents with us, we also upload them into a password-protected cloud for easy electronic access if needed. You will have a much easier time replacing documents if you can prove easily who you are.
I don’t think this one needs much explanation. Make sure that you have your prescription medication and that you have enough pills to get you through the entirety of your trip.
Credit/Debit Cards and Cash
Make sure that you have options when it comes to resources on your trip. You will definitely want your debit card so that you can access the ATM machines at your destination. It also never hurts to have some cash on hand. A little cash can go a long way in a crunch.
Car and House Keys
I know this sounds silly, but be sure that you have your car and house keys with you and that you always keep them in a safe and secure location within your backpack.
Of course, clothing is a personal choice and will depend on the weather of your travel destination. The following items are suggestions based upon our travel experiences. Keep in mind that these are only suggestions.
You should definitely take the suggested list and make it your own. If you’re more of a t-shirt and jeans person, then by all means, pack in that direction. The last thing you want to do is to be uncomfortable while on vacation.
With that in mind, here are some of our clothing suggestions:
- Tops (6 total)
- Pants or Shorts (2)
- Socks (6)
- Underwear (6)
- Bras (2)
- Skirts or Dresses (2)
- Sweater/Jacket/Coat (1-only if needed)
- Pajamas or Yoga Pants (1)
- Scarf or Sarong
We all depend on our technology these days, so don’t leave home without the essentials you need on your trip. We include our camera equipment, phone, phone chargers, portable power pack, camera batteries, converter, iPad or laptop, and headphones.
Health and Beauty Items
We pack as few health and beauty items as possible, but there are a few things that I always take with me. The other items we either purchase once we arrive or use the hotel freebies. LOL!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Face Wash
- Make-up (very minimal-powder, eyeliner, mascara)
- Hair gel
- Non-Rx Meds (Tylenol, Benadryl, etc)
- Extra ziploc bags
- Journal and pen
Final Thoughts on Carry On Only Travel
If you’ve made it this far into this post, then you are truly committed to this carry on only packing list! Well then don’t stop now. Check out the section below where we have linked up some of the exact items that we take on with us on our travels.
And yes, we only take our backpacks everywhere we go! I promise, once you’ve done it a couple of times, you will be a pro as well!!
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.