Taking Carry-On Luggage Only – Backpacks Are The Way To Go

Doug Williams

Traveling the world with one piece of luggage is easier than you think. With just a 40-liter backpack you can only take the essentials; you will thank yourself for packing lightly once you see other travelers struggling with huge backpacks.

I’ve got a lightweight backpack here in the Outdoor Revival office; it’s here because it’s too popular and everyone want’s to use it when it comes to flying. It’s a perfect size to have as a carry on, and it’s a lovely backpack when you need to carry it. I’m selfish I know, not letting the family and friends use it, but heck, I bought it!

So if you’re going to travel with a smaller pack, what are the essentials?



Plan ahead for the outfits you want to wear and the things you’re going to be doing. This is easier if you are traveling during one season, or if you’re going to a place where the seasons don’t change much, but you should be able to manage two, or even more.

Pack neutral clothes so that mixing and matching them is much easier. You will need less space if going somewhere hot than you would when traveling to a colder climate.

If you are a woman make sure you know about the local customs so that you pack the appropriate clothing. You will need enough clothes to cover you for about five days, that should allow you to wash them when you can and still have clean ones to wear.

Take t-shirts, a pair or two of shorts, one pair of long pants, underwear and socks, and a lightweight jacket. Add merino wool clothing if heading somewhere cooler, as this is lightweight, low pack size and warm.

To reduce weight, don’t pack more than two pairs of shoes. Depending on what terrain you are hoping to cross, think about including one pair of hiking boots, or durable shoes that will cover most terrains.



With restrictions for all passengers on what liquids you can take in your carry-on luggage, shampoo and shower gel are now out. Get creative and see what else is out there.

If you are staying at hotels or motels, check online to see if they provide toiletries. If you are going to be roughing it, look for solid versions of shampoos, shower gels, and even sunscreen.

It’s recommended that you take a small toiletry bag filled with solid shampoo and a conditioner bar, a bar of soap, hairbrush or comb, solid sunscreen, deodorant, toothpaste, and a toothbrush.

Things like razors, nail scissors, and tweezers may not get past airport security, but you can try. If they do say you can’t take them, you need to post them back to yourself or throw them in the bin, so be sure you’re willing to lose them before risking it.

You can also check on what’s available when you reach your destination; it might be easier to get hold of things like shampoo etc when you’re there.

Travel Technology

If you are on a working holiday and planning on blogging or writing, a light laptop or tablet would be best. Most tablets today have optional keyboards making them much more viable as a working platform.

Take a phone for emergencies and, if you like to read, a Kindle or similar device, although you can get Kindle apps for your phone if it’s easier. I always travel with my Kindle.

For photography, it depends – if you just want some holiday snaps, then your phone might be fine; otherwise, cameras such as the micro 4/3s camera are lightweight and take great shots. My Sony a6000 takes brilliant images, and it’s easy and light to carry, it can make all the difference between taking photo’s and not bothering because your camera weighs too much to lug about.

You will need to carry a travel adapter – choose one that works in many countries rather than carrying a few of them.

To keep photos safe you can store them in cloud storage or join any of the numerous online accounts like Smugmug to upload the photos. Take earphones and charging cables and spare SD cards.


Create a travel first aid kit and have this at the top of your backpack. If you have prescription medications, look up the regulations for the countries you are visiting. Some require an official letter from your doctor stating that the medications are required by you.

Also, look and see what painkillers can and can’t be brought into the country. If you are carrying pills such as anti-malaria pills, do not pop them out of their blister packs and into a bottle – customs officials do not like this, and you could lose them.

Get yourself a cheap bubble wrap envelope to keep them safe and undamaged – this goes for any medicines you carry in marked blister pack form.

Sticking plasters and bandages and gauze pads should also be in your kit.


Pack light for extra things you may need such as a lightweight towel, sunglasses, a sarong, and possibly a large plastic bag which can be used for many things.

Research the country you are going to and make notes in a notebook or on your tablet about what is allowed in and what isn’t.

This is especially important when traveling over borders from country to country. You are a guest in these countries, and it’s important you follow the rules.

Even when heading into western countries such as Australia you will find they have strict rules at their borders. A heavy fine or, worse, getting deported because you didn’t check ahead of time, is a silly way to ruin your trip.


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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival