As a digital nomad, I travel and hop between different cities a lot. I’m currently on a 3-month trip visiting 10 different cities–all with different kinds of weather. I know what you’re thinking, you imagine me with so many bags to house my fortune of clothes, right? Well, not quite so.
In one of my first few trips, I met a European friend who was going to volunteer in Guatemala for 6 months with just a carry-on. I was shocked and honestly felt silly that I had a big bag and a carry-on for a 2-week stay. So I decided to change my lifestyle.
Traveling light is traveling happy.
You walk with your luggage much more than you think. When you have a small bag, you won’t have to worry about stairs, running to catch the bus, or straining your shoulders.
When you travel with only a carry-on, it saves you up to 80$ on a round trip flight with connections. Imagine how much you can save per year, especially if you’re a frequent traveler.
You don’t have to wait for your luggage anymore. You’ll be the first person to go out from that exit door. Also, you’ll spend less time packing.
Traveling with big heavy bags makes you a typical tourist. Just saying.
Here’s how I do it.
Pro tip: get a backpack that can be attached to the luggage
When I travel, I carry 2 things: a carry-on luggage and a laptop backpack that can be attached to the carry-on. Samsonite S’Cure Spinner is a great high-quality bag, a bit pricey but totally worth it. As for the laptop backpack, choose any bag that can fit a lot of stuff and that can easily be attached to the luggage. Now, how do we fit a whole 3 month trip in a small carry-on? Simple. Don’t bring a lot of stuff.
Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario
Ask yourself, do you really need four pairs of pants? You probably wear the same jeans for a week or 2 anyway. Keep in mind, you can wash your clothes pretty much wherever you go, you already do that at home anyway. Don’t think about the “what if”s and start thinking about what you can’t live without. When in doubt, keep them out. So choose your favorite clothes and just wash & re-wear them.
Choose your outfits
The best way to bring fewer clothes and avoid getting useless stuff is to choose your outfits before packing. I usually try to get everything in black or gray, but that’s just me. The point is, choose matching colors and style so that everything can go with everything.
Roll, roll, roll your clothes
Rolling clothes is a great way to prevent wrinkles and saves some space in your suitcase. Choose a side for the clothes and the other one for the remaining stuff (toiletries, liquids, etc.). I usually put the stuff in the closed zipped side so they don’t scatter around everywhere.
Limit your liquids
If you want to travel with just a carry-on, keep in mind that each liquid bottle in your bag should be 100ML max. Make sure the size is actually written on the bottle or else the security guys will tell you “how would I know that this is less than 100ML?” trust me, it happened to me. All your liquids (combined) should be in a sealed bag and less than 1L, and at some airports, it’s even less.
Instead of bringing a heavy coat, bring multiple layers of clothes. This way, you can wear them with multiple outfits, and in different seasons.
Wear the heaviest
It might be annoying, but it’s worth it. Wear your heaviest clothes and jackets to make space in your bag. If it’s too warm, then tie them around your waist.
One shoe to rule them all
Do you really need more than one pair of shoes? I never carry more than one pair with me, shoes take a lot of space. So try to find a good pair that can go with all your clothes and wear it.
Use free baggage service
Keep in mind that a lot of times the flight can be full, in this case, the gate staff might ask you to check your luggage free of charge. I love when that happens.
Check in online
Print your boarding pass in advance or use the check-in machines to avoid the check-in desk and go straight to security. The check-in desks are where your bag will most likely be weighed. If it’s above the limit, you will pay a huge amount to check in your baggage at the gate (usually 2x the normal fee). So make sure to avoid the check-in desks.