Carry-on travel

I’m off to Europe in July! I’ll be travelling carry-on only. This list is for one month of summer travel, carry-on only.

I’ve found I need far fewer clothes than most packing lists would have you believe.

One jacket, two t-shirts, two dresses and one pair of jeans, plus a swimsuit and towel is pretty much the foundation of what I bring anywhere in the world, no matter how long the trip. For shoes, I take an open and a closed (covered) pair, if I’m travelling in summer.

Fabrics-wise, merino is wonderful for being quick-drying, comfortable and non-smelly, and you can wear it several days before it needs a wash. Lace underwear (or merino for the guys) is fast-drying and will wash and dry overnight in almost all cases.

I like to travel in jeans. They feel good, and I roll them up to 3/4 trousers when the weather heats up, and wear them with sandals. So they’re double-duty. They take longer to wash, but I’ll wear jeans 3-4 days in most weather before they need washing.

Here’s my packing list:

What I wear on while travelling:

  • Jeans
  • Merino t-shirt
  • Denim jacket
  • Scarf
  • Ballet flats
  • Eyeglasses
  • Bakelite antique bangle (doesn’t beep through security!)


  • Paperwork, passport, drivers’ license, wallet, cash in local and destination currencies etc.
  • Smartphone
  • Extra power pack with USB port
  • Kindle
  • Hairbrush
  • Pocket mirror
  • Solid perfume
  • Long last lipstick LIQUIDS AND GELS

  • Sunglasses
  • Diva cup
  • Panty liners

  • Water bottle (fill once you’re through customs and security)
  • Pen (to fill out paperwork)
  • Notebook
  • Peppermints
  • Prescription medicine and Doctor’s certificate

Extra clothing in my carry-on pack

I use a 30 litre backpack. I’ve found that rigid suitcases aren’t as convenient and a backpack is easier to manage – as long as it’s not too big!

  • Teva walking sandals
  • Spare merino t-shirt
  • Relaxed lightweight dress A

  • Dress B
  • Black leggings (to wear underneath dresses if it gets cold)
  • 3/4 leggings (add to a t-shirt for instant gym wear)
  • Kaftan – for poolside lounging
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunhat
  • 5 x underwear (lace dries quickly for washing in hotel sinks)

Cosmetics and skin care

In clear ziplock wash bag.
I put liquids and gels in a separate ziplock for easy inspection.

  • Dailies contact lenses LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Tinted moisturiser (travel size) LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Eyeliner
  • Chubby stick (face colour)
  • Toothbrush
  • Body puff
  • Stick coconut oil (for hair)
  • Disposable razor
  • Travel tweezers
  • A few band-aids
  • Paracetamol

  • Stick deodorant

As much as possible I avoid liquids and gels, and bring solid cosmetics instead. I also share with my partner and kids, so we don’t double up on toiletries unless we have to.

Toiletries shared with partner’s bag

  • Sunblock (travel size, shared) LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Toothpaste (travel size, shared) LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Conditioning baby shampoo (2-in-1, travel size, shared) LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Body wash (travel size, shared) LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Cortisone cream (travel size, shared) LIQUIDS AND GELS
  • Antihistamine tablets, shared

    Other belongings

    • Universal adapter
    • Turkish (lightweight) towel
    • Extension cord

    I don’t bring a sleeping bag. I’ve never come across a hostel yet that doesn’t provide bedding, and I’m not one for camping out. But I do bring a large lightweight towel.

    When I’m sharing a room, I try to grab a bottom bunk, and tucking my towel up gives me a screen from other roomies when I want some privacy. It’s also ideal if I hit the beach when travelling 🙂