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You’ve booked your new overseas adventure and you’re intending to only take carry-on this trip. “What to pack?” is the million dollar question.

We’re seasoned carry-on travelers here at Below7, and over the years we’ve refined and tweaked our packing list to be ready for any travel situation.

The proficient “one-bag” carry-on traveler masters 3 core elements of light travel:

  • Packing moderation: abandon the idea of lugging too much stuff
  • Weight reduction: find travel-friendly versions of items you’re bringing
  • Bag optimisation: looking for efficient and effective luggage solutions

The goal is to reach a point where your one bag will be small and light enough to carry without consequence. That means finally letting go of any stress associated with your ‘stuff’, and truly experiencing the freedom beyond being bound to a bag.

There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, but the last thing you want to do is figure out what you’re packing when you’re packing.

Let’s come back to the question on everyone’s minds: “What do I pack?”

The simple answer is: start with a packing list.

This determines the extent of your luggage, the weight of your load, how much freedom you will have. It’s your top priority then, to create a good packing list that serves as a pact with yourself before you start packing. “If it’s not on my list, it’s not going in my bag”.

A good packing list is like a personal blueprint that continues to develop alongside your interests. It’s everything you can’t travel comfortably without, it’s something tangible you can refer to, and it ensures nothing important will be forgotten.

This list broadly covers everything we’ve got on our list. It’s our go-to packing list that we rely on to prepare for the unpredictability of travel.

Remember, you’ll need to create one that’s unique to your own needs, but you can use this as a guide.

Luggage

  • Shoulder bag
  • Day pack or purse
  • Lightweight duffel/laundry bag
  • Luggage locks
  • Digital luggage scales (to weigh your bags)

Wardrobe

  • 2-3 shirts/blouses/tops
  • 2 pairs of pants/bottoms
  • 1 dressy jacket
  • 3+ pairs of socks
  • 3+ pairs of undergarments
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pajama top and bottom
  • 1 layering item (e.g. cardigan or jumper)
  • 1 rainwear
  • 1 coat or parka
  • 1 sarong (can function as a cover up, sheet, towel, tablecloth, laundry bag, sling, blanket, shower curtain)
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 sun hat / knitted cap
  • 1 pair of dressy shoes
  • 1 pair of walking shoes / boots
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 belt
  • 1 pair of sunglasses

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush, cap, floss
  • Disposable razor, shaving product
  • Comb or hairbrush
  • Shampoo, soap and container
  • Deodorant
  • Tweezers
  • Mirror
  • Washcloth or towel

Tools

  • Watch
  • Flash light/head strap
  • Utensils (spoon, fork, plate or bowl, collapsible cup)
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Safety pins, cord, fasteners
  • Sewing kit
  • Plastic, sealable bags
  • Repair tape
  • Travel adaptor

Health

  • Antiseptic gel
  • Bandages
  • Water purification tablets or filter
  • Medication (painkillers, malaria tablets etc)
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen

Valuables

  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Vaccination certificates
  • Extra passport photos
  • Copies of important documents
  • Travel tickets
  • ATM cards
  • Security pouch
  • Mobile phone and charger

What you can’t carry-on

Most airlines have baggage restrictions for carry-on bags. You’ll either need to leave them at home or find an alternative. Here’s what you can’t bring on your carry-on:

  • Liquids over 3.4 ounces or 100ml
  • Sharp objects
  • Knives
  • Razors
  • Sporting equipment (sticks, poles, bats, clubs)
  • Tools
  • Lighters, matches, flammable items
  • Meat, fruit, vegetables and agricultural products
  • Certain electronics *check with your airline

Despite this list, we think it’s still pretty easy to travel with carry-on only. Just be realistic about what you need to take with you, and buy the restricted items once you arrive.

Remember, this list of what not to pack in your carry-on bag isn’t all-inclusive. Regulations change often, so make sure you check the airline websites before you fly.

Now that you have your packing list… how do you fit this all under a 7kg carry-on limit? (link to 4: How to stay under the 7kg limit)