How to Pack Carry on Only For An Overseas Trip

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How to Pack Carry on Only For An Overseas Trip

Until about 6 months ago, I used to carry around a ridiculously huge backpack/suitcase filled with unnecessary crap.  It wasn’t until July of this year when I was forced to fit everything into a bag small enough to use as hand luggage that I realised how little I actually need.  I was packing for yet another adventure but this time around South-east Asia.  We were booked onto numerous flights (which cost an arm and a leg extra if you want to buy luggage) and plus, it was South-east Asia!  No one wants to be carrying a suitcase on the beach or lifting it up 5 flights of stairs.


Here’s how to pack carry on only!

Kathmandu kindly gifted me one of their transfer packs and I must say, I was nervous when I saw the size.  At 28L I knew I had a challenge on my hands.  When I went through my luggage from the previous, I found that I didn’t even wear half of the clothes or use half of the beauty products I originally packed.  I made 3 piles – definitely taking, the ‘maybes’’ and the ‘no’s’.


How to Pack Carry on Only For An Overseas Trip


Here’s my carry on packing list



  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of long leggings


  • 3 t-shirts
  • 3 long-sleeved shirts
  • 1 throw over jersey (thin)
  • 1 light bomber jacket


  • 4 light dresses (1 long and 3 short)
  • 1 down winter jacket – I usually use this as a blanket on flights because it gets so cold



  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 2 normal bras
  • 1 sports bra
  • 2 pairs of socks



  • 1 pair of jandals (flip-flops)
  • 1 pair of sneakers


  • Mini first aid kit (with no scissors as you cannot take them with you in your hand luggage)
  • Comb (a hairbrush would have been too bulky)
  • Travel towel
  • Hat
  • Toiletries – deodorant, sunscreen, a little bit of makeup, shampoo, conditioner (use conditioner as body wash to save room!) and disposable shaver.



  • Go Pro
  • DSLR Canon Camera
  • Tripod
  • Computer + case
  • Hard Drive
  • Chargers
  • Go pro accessories
  • Battery Pack
  • Headphones


Obviously, your bag would be a lot less bulky if you didn’t have to carry around things like a DSLR camera and tripod, but because I’m a travel blogger I need to carry all of that damn bulky stuff!

How to Pack Carry on Only For An Overseas Trip How to Pack Carry on Only For An Overseas Trip

Top tips for how to pack carry on only

  • Roll everything

It really does make a difference if you roll your clothes.  Not only that but it keeps them in shape and you won’t end up with horribly wrinkled clothes like you would if you just stuffed them in your bag.

  • Use packing cells

When rolled make sure you place them into a packing cell.  My Kathmandu packing cell is double-sided, which is perfect because you can put tops in one side and bottoms in the other.  You can also get smaller ones which I find are perfect for underwear, toiletries or chords since I travel with a lot of electrical stuff.

  • Find the perfect bag that is space optimised

The bag that Kathmandu kindly gifted to me is perfect for hand luggage because it’s made for that reason.  There are plenty of pockets and even a laptop pocket at the back of the bag making it perfect for a traveller like me who carries a laptop.  Make sure you find a bag that is made to be used as hand luggage so it will be easy and convenient for you.

  • Get a little laundry kit

Since you will be carrying a lot less clothes, a laundry kit is great because you will probably need to wash things more often since you don’t have as many clothes with you.  Doing your own laundry is easy enough if you have a little kit.  This one is from Kathmandu and came with laundry strips, a little clothesline, a universal sink plug and a laundry bag for your dirty clothes.  Getting laundry done is expensive unless you’re in Asia but even then, half of your clothes may get ruined or go missing.  It’s just easier and a lot cheaper if you do it yourself!

  • Wear the heaviest clothing on board

As your carrying hand luggage your weight limits are probably strict (however my bag has never been weighed (touch wood).  I suggest you wear the heaviest clothes you have (Jeans and sneakers) so that your bag is on weight.  I have even had to stuff my pockets with half of my electrical stuff to get my weight down once, you just have to do what you have to do!

  • Tie anything too big to fit in your bag on the outside

For example, if you are carrying sneakers then you should tie them on the outside so you don’t have to squeeze them into a bag.  This also works for something like my down jacket as it comes in a bag that looks like a sleeping bag, so I usually pop it in there and tie it to hang on the outside of my bag if it’s too hot to wear it in the airport, leaving more space for other things!


Let me know if you travel with just hand-luggage and if not, why not try it out!  It’s actually easier than you think.  A big thank you to Kathamndu NZ for supplying me with these products!


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