I’ll be travelling Europe (European summer) for a month next year, and doing it all with carry-on only. Here’s my packing list.
Crossbody handbag, contains:
Drink bottle (fill when through customs)
Smartphone double charger
Wallet – contains credit card, euros and NZD for return trip
Documents wallet – contains passport and itinerary, doctors note for medicine
Side pocket of handbag contains: lipstick (liquid), medicine, paracetamol and eye drops (single use packs).
35 litre backpack.
Zip top access hatch of backpack contains:
Clear 1 litre ziplock plastic bag
Small BB cream
Cosmetics bag (with mesh side):
Cheek colour stick
Toothy tabs (solid toothpaste)
Conditioner bar (in plastic container)
Soap bar (in plastic container)
Solid hair oil (coconut oil) in container
Washing powder (for laundry)
Lightweight travel clothesline
Tank merino black
Tank merino blue
T-shirt merino blue
Jandals (flip flops)
Turkish towel blue
6 pair undies (lace)
3 socks merino
T-shirt merino black
Hoodie merino blue
Notes, hints and tips for carry-on travel
Don’t double up! If you’re travelling with a friend or partner, don’t double up. You don’t both need to bring soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc. Co-ordinate between you and save space.
Travel chargers are the bomb! Those portable chargers you an buy for next to nothing at discount stores are little miracle workers. Grab one and make sure you’re fully charged before you travel.
Look for the outlets at the airport before you take off. And charge! Most airports have plenty of outlets. Keep your phone charging before you board, so your device is fully charged while you fly.
Load up maps of your destination onto your phone before you leave. Keep them cached. Be aware that your phone may not work in certain countries. Check beforehand.
Will your debit cards work overseas? We’ve had problems with debit-only cards not working overseas – luckily we had credit cards as well. Check the situation with your bank before you travel!
Photocopy and take e-copies of all documentation before travel. Take photocopies of your passports and itinerary before you travel, and keep them with you in your main bag. Make sure you also have electronic copies of everything saved to your webmail account in case you lose everything or get robbed.
Shoulders and legs! Some religious sites will not allow women access with bare shoulders and / or legs. Make sure you have some way of covering up if you intend to visit these places. We can debate the feminist issues later, but it would suck to miss out on visiting the Vatican (for example) after travelling all that way!
Layer clothing with natural fibres. And lace underwear is awesome. Natural fibres such as cotton and merino stay fresher and dry more quickly than synthetics. Lace underwear dries crazy quickly and can be washed easily in a small sink.
Covered shoes for Asia. If you’re visiting less-than-clean cities in Asia, or cities that have a monsoon climate, covered shoes are a much better idea than sandals, no matter what the temperature. Just trust me on this – I lived in Hong Kong for years! 😉
Avoid long dresses and skirts in cities. Long dresses and skirts can easily get caught in escalators, in underground train door and even in drains. Wear trousers, jeans or knee-length skirts instead.
Water, heat, sun and burns. If you’re visiting a hot country, make sure you bring a water bottle with you that fits in your bag. Many tourist sites charge huge amounts of money for bottled water while taps (with safe drinking water) are readily available. Likewise, bring sunblock, sunglasses and a hat if appropriate for your destination.
Why a backpack? A backpack is hands-free and squishable. Different airlines have varying size requirements for carry-on, and a squishable backpack means my luggage is easier to fit into compartments and transport than a solid-sided suitcase.
What about souvenirs? I intend to post back any souvenirs I buy. I’ve done this before and it worked well. Most cities have a central post office that is easy to find, and many even sell pre-paid bubble bags to send parcels in. Too easy!
Why a cross-body bag? Cross-body bags feel safer and more secure for daily travels and sight-seeing. I like to use my daily bag from home, which makes me look less like a tourist! Keeping the bag around the front of my body makes me less of a target for thieves, and of course a cross-body is harder for bag-snatchers.
No sleeping bag? I’ve found it unnecessary. Most backpackers and ALL hotels and bed-and-breakfasts include bedding, although you sometimes have to pay a small extra fee for a towel.
What’s a Turkish towel? Turkish towels are very light, full-sized travel towels that roll up next to nothing and dry quickly. They’re better and feel nicer than those weird travel towels. I like ’em. Plus, because they’re full sized, they work well as a privacy screen if you’re in a bottom bunk in a group dorm. Be a hoopy frood, and know where your towel is! 😉
Jeans? Aren’t they too heavy? I’ve decided the pros of jeans outweigh the cons. I can wear them for days on end, they’re durable and comfy, and I can roll them up to 3/4 length in hot weather. They’re also modest enough for most countries. Yes they’re heavier than other pants and take longer to dry, but I consider that worthwhile.
What is a universal plug? A universal plug is a flexible rubber plug that covers any sized plug hole and works on suction. I’ve found lots of places don’t have plugs for the sinks in bathrooms, and a universal plug is well worth bringing. Then I can do my washing in any bathroom! 🙂
What about liquids? The rules on liquids vary from country to country, and even from airport to airport, depending on who the customs staff are you get (it seems). I’ll be playing it cautious, and put all liquids in the top of my pack in a separate, easy-to-access compartment, so I can take everything out for inspection quickly. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the whole liquids fiasco is security theatre, but in the meanwhile we may as well make things as quick as possible for ourselves and our fellow travellers.