How To Travel Long-term With Only a Carry-on

Long-term Travel With Only a Carry-onWhether you are looking to save money on your travels, or make it more fun and less stressful, traveling light is the way to go. Even hobos figured that out and have been carrying bindles (bags on a stick) ever since.

The Benefits

SAVES YOU MONEY
Airlines are only getting stingier by the day while constantly increasing their baggage charges. The more weight you’re carrying the more money you’re paying. Physics 101; every extra kilo you have in the trunk of your car translates into increased fuel consumption, hence higher cost. Travel light with a carry-on and save your hard earned cash. You’ll be traveling long term so you will need every penny you can save.

YOU WON’T LOSE YOUR STUFF
Don’t you just hate waiting by that carousel for a piece of luggage that never shows up? When you travel light you basically keep your pack with you the whole time so you can keep tabs on your stuff and you won’t end up losing your favorite scarf or underwear. We wouldn’t want that now would we?

MORE COMFORT
Carrying mountain loads of stuff gets psychically exhausting. Considering you will be traveling for months, this can be an outright nuisance. That extra weight leaves your feet and back aching for days, just because you had to bring all your comfortable shoes with you. Ironic isn’t it? So why go through this unnecessary discomfort when you could just stay on the light side…

SAVES YOU TIME
If you are like most people, you definitely won’t enjoy standing in long lines waiting to be checked in. That takes at least half an hour. With a carry-on you can skip most lines straight to security check, and when you finally reach your destination you don’t have to worry about waiting at the carousel. Just get off the plane and be on your way!

BETTER MANEUVERABILITY
Navigating through foot traffic in highly populated cities can be quite tricky. You will have a hard time trying to avoid knocking down innocent bystanders. Not to mention public transportation which is generally crowded and nobody appreciates sitting next to a person loaded with tons of baggage, so please be courteous and carry light! 🙂

the challenges

Travelling light has so many advantages but it has some setbacks too, especially during long term travel.

FEWER OUTFIT OPTIONS
Traveling light requires you to cut back on the number of clothing and personal items you bring along. You will probably only have a handful of clothing to change into and most of the time you will be forced to wear the same shirts, which self-conscious people might have trouble with.

But you don’t have to wreck your style and swag to travel light. If you are a lass, you may want to consider carrying outfits that can be paired with other accessories such as scarves to create a fresh look. Black lace or chiffon dresses are perfect; they are light, fashionable and can easily be paired with other rags. Lads on the other hand, can pair the same pants with different t-shirts and shirts and still look sharp.

CONSTANTLY HAVING TO DO LAUNDRY
Even for the most hygienic people their clothes eventually get dirty and soon start to reek of B.O, so you have to choose either to wear your dirty clothes and risk alienating your entourage or do laundry! Paying for laundry services at a hotel can cost a small fortune and is not an option for most people.

You could easily locate local laundry mats online and wash your clothes there. Wait for them to pile up so that you can save a few bucks. Moreover, if you’re feeling particularly cheap, you could just hand wash your clothes in the hostel sink. Just make sure you don’t clog it!

CHANGING SEASONS
Long-term travel most likely means that you’ll be traveling to destinations with different weather patterns, and multi-weather packing can be stressful. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out you won’t be able to wear the same clothes traveling from one hemisphere to the other, and you wouldn’t want to face the Russian winter without a sturdy puffy jacket and those extra long socks!

You can easily beat the heat by incorporating pants with zippers which you can turn into shorts in hotter environments. As for the cold, you can stay warm by packing some thin thermal tops and leggings.

HOW TO TRAVEL LONG-TERM WITH A CARRY-ON LUGGAGE

CHOOSE A SMALL BAG
This might seem obvious but having a large bag will tempt you to carry extra stuff. Look for something between 30-40 liters in capacity. Check out our essential packing guide “Travel Packing 101”.

MINIMIZE YOUR CLOTHING
Don’t carry a different outfit for each day. Instead, pack clothes that can easily be paired with others and are wearable in different environments. Watch out for your color scheme and pick colors that will easily go together. Don’t pack more than a week worth of clothes. Keep your jacket with you on the plane, especially one with several pockets and compartments to carry smaller items.

COMPRESS YOUR CLOTHES
Use a compressor to squeeze the air out of your clothes to create more space, every inch counts… and it’s actually fun!

GO EASY ON THE SHOES
2 pairs of shoes MAX should be sufficient for long term travel. Wear one and pack one only if it’s absolutely necessary! If you expect to visit hot environments include a pair of flipflops.

BRING ONLY ESSENTIALS
Things like chargers and cables can be shared IF you are traveling as a group. Avoid carrying books, you can read via kindle or other online sites. Use your phone to take notes and pictures. Most people are already addicted to their phones anyway, this shouldn’t be hard.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Measure out the weight of your bag before you leave for the airport, in order to get the accurate maximum carry-on luggage weight allowed by your airline.

BE ORGANISED
Yes! You do need to. This enables you to fit more clothes in your bag, so you can carry that sexy pair of shorts you don’t want to leave behind. Write a check list with the essential items you will require for your trip.

GET A MULTI COMPARTMENT BAG
A bag with more pockets allows you to pack more things, and you can fit smaller items in those side pockets. A bag with fewer pockets will limit the number of small items you can squeeze in.

ROLL DON’T FOLD 
Roll’em up like Swiss rolls! Rolling your clothes saves you more space than folding them, creating more space for other items.

GET DOWN AND DIRTY
Ya you heard me! Consider this an invitation to be slightly less sterile! To save you from having to constantly wash and scrub the few clothes you brought you need to be a little creative. Carry dark jeans. Dark colors can handle anything you throw at them. A pair of dark blue or black jeans could keep you going for a week or even more depending on your hygiene barometer.

And there you have it… How to travel long-term with only a carry-on. So next time you decide to take off on your new adventure, make sure to travel light for the ultimate experience.