How to pack for a week overseas in a carry-on bag

Travelling overseas is so accessible these days and as a society we are jetting off more regularly to exciting destinations near and far.

As airlines tighten the rules around what can be taken on board and charge for the luxury of checking baggage, packing has become an important part of trip preparation.

Travelling with only carry-on luggage can save a lot of time and money, and with some simple tips you can be equipped with everything you need to enjoy a week abroad.

Determining if only taking a carry-on suitcase will work for you is often reliant on the climate at the destination and the activities you plan to undertake. A snow trip, for example, requires lots of gear and heavy clothing so may not be suitable for carry-on travel, however a beach holiday in a tropical climate is ideal as items are smaller and light weight.

The next important decision is luggage selection. Many low-cost airlines are extremely strict on the weight limits for carry-on luggage and some are even weighing suitcases at check in. To maximise the carry-on weight allowance, choose a lightweight piece of luggage that is suitable for your travels. A backpack or duffle bag is often much lighter than a hard-shell wheelie suitcase.

When it comes to clothing, select items that are versatile to help reduce overpacking. Consider layers based around a colour scheme to make efficient use of minimal items. Clothing made from lightweight natural fibres, such as cotton and silk, are ideal.

Washing clothes while travelling allows you to pack less. It’s easy to wash underwear on the road but bulkier items are a little more challenging. Some hotels have reasonable overnight laundry services and some Airbnb’s are equipped with a washer and dryer.

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Shoes can be bulky and heavy, so it’s important to take only what is absolutely necessary. Wearing your heaviest shoes on the flight helps save space in your luggage for other items.

Electronics and camera equipment also add significant weight to luggage, not to mention the required charging cables and adapters. Try to minimise what you take and rationalise what you need. For instance, your smartphone can double as a Kindle to read books while on the road.

Travelling with just a carry-on bag takes practice when it comes to packing, but if you follow these simple tips and research your destination you can easily take only what is necessary and have a convenient and efficient trip.

Tips for packing light

  • Wear heavy items on the flight, such as hiking shoes, jacket, hat, scarf
  • Pack small sized toiletries under 100ml in a clear zip lock bag. Samples are good for this or plan to use the toiletries provided at most hotels
  • If taking multiple flights check the baggage restrictions and weights for each airline as they can differ greatly
  • Take a reasonable sized personal item, such as a small handbag, but be aware that often the weight of this is combined with your carry-on bag
  • Packing cubes will help keep everything organised, allowing you to pair similar items together and save on space
  • Remember, in most destinations you can buy items as you need them so there is no need to pack for every possible situation
  • If travelling in a group, share the load – can you share charging cables and adaptors, reading material, sunscreen and insect repellent?
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