Every time I travel, I take less with me than I did the previous time. Yet every trip, I still think to myself:
“Self, you have too much stuff! Half of it you don’t even use, yet you have been carrying it around for a month / 3 months / 6 months!”
There is a lot of talk on travel blogs these days, about travelling with carry on luggage only. While expert travellers have always highly recommended travelling light, the idea of carry on only travel has really taken off in the last few years. This is largely due to the implementation of checked luggage fees by airlines all over the world. If you’re a budget traveller, carry on only is the way to go!
While I was in Europe last year, the baggage fees were the final straw! I booked a flight from Brussels to Copenhagen for €5 ($7.40AUD), and had to pay extra for my bag.
Guess how much! Go on!
I had to pay €25 ($37AUD) to check my 15kg backpack. That’s 5 times the price for the actual seat ticket! OMG!
So, I immediately decided my next trip would be carry on only. After a lot of research, I fell for the Minaal Carry On Bag. It’s certainly not the cheapest – but it was my favourite by a long way. And, I figured it would pay for itself after a few flights where I don’t have to pay checked luggage fees.
I was home in Sydney for a few months over Christmas, for a variety of reasons. While there, I ordered my Minaal Carry On Bag! The first time I have used it is the trip I’m currently on – 3 months in Thailand.
People keep telling me how amazed they are that I’m travelling so light (especially my mum)! Yet, my Minaal Carry On Bag is not actually full – and I reckon I could travel with even less.
So, what do I put in my Minaal Carry On bag?
Well, lucky you – I made a little spreadsheet!
The list REALLY isn’t very short! While putting it together, I was actually surprised at how much stuff is on it. Every time I thought I had it completed, I’d find something else. It actually made me feel quite weighed down!
Now, there are liquids in this list – but all of them are under the 100mL requirement, except the bodywash and Listerine. I bought both of them once I landed in Thailand. All the other liquids went into a clear plastic bag for security screening when I arrived at the airport.
What all that stuff physically looks like:
Wows! So much shit. What else could I possibly need?
See the backpack at the top right? That’s my Minaal Carry On Bag… Everything in this photo fits comfortably into it. Well, except the hiking shoes – I wear them on travel days, or tie them to the outside of the bag.
How Everything Fits into my Minaal Carry On Bag
Well, just for you, I went ahead and packed my bag today. I didn’t have to! I don’t leave for another 3 days, and will have to unpack it all again. But, I figured I’d take some photos of the process to show how it all fits in.
You can thank me later.
Step 1: What I’ll be wearing
Sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be naked…
Here is what I’ll be wearing for my flight home on Wednesday, so obviously won’t be in my bag. My phone will also be in my pocket, but since it’s also my camera, it’s not in the photos!
If you’re struggling with space (or weight limits, which I find more of an issue than space), always wear your most heavy, chunky clothes… For instance, I could change this to long pants, and wear my hoodie too. I won’t, because it’s 40 degrees here – I might get changed once I get to the airport though.
Step 2: Toiletries
All of my toiletries fit into my little toiletries bag, which fits perfectly into my Minaal bag. Winning!
Be careful here – as mentioned earlier – you’ll have to make sure you abide by airport rules with liquids. I usually put all my liquids into a plastic bag, somewhere easy to reach until after I get through security. I can either leave it there if it fits easily, or move it back to the toiletries bag.
Step 3: Other Random Shit
So, all the other shit that doesn’t really have a home or purpose in life, gets chucked into a small packing cube. I bought a set of 3 packing cubes (1 x large & 2 x small) from Minaal, when I bought my bag. They’re designed specifically for this bag, and fit perfectly.
This packing cube has all sorts of things – universal plug, pen, micro USB cable, some medicines… Like I said – all the random shit. Remember to keep stuff you might need quickly in an easier to reach place, like one of the top external pockets. Bandaids, motion sickness tablets, Imodium, and Nurofen should always be quickly accessible – just in case.
The above photo shows my day pack – I use this for day to day use, when I don’t want to take my larger bag with me. It fits things like my eReader, laptop, bandana, water, and all the stuff I just said should always be within reach. It weighs hardly anything, and folds up to nothing. Look in the photo below – that’s it again, all folded up!
After all the random shit, and my folded up day pack – there was still room in this packing cube to put my travel towel.
Step 4: Clothes
Are you getting the hint yet?
Picking up on the pattern?
PACKING CUBES! Everything into packing cubes!
I spent 10 years backpacking without packing cubes, but last year I decided to give them a shot. OMG – what have I been missing out on all my life?!? Even in my big, 65L pack – they make things so much easier! I know what is in each cube, and it keeps it all neat and in place. When I open my pack, things don’t go flying out everywhere.
They also help to compress things, and keep them in the shape of the bag. This is especially important when you are travelling light and want to maximise space, like with the Minaal Carry On Bag. I couldn’t imagine using it without them.
The trick to packing clothes is rolling them. This works especially well for t-shirts but sometimes I find bulky pants are better to fold flat – it depends on the particular item, and the space you have to work with.
This fits all of my t-shirts and singlets – 6 in total, as I’m wearing 1. Plus my bandana, and my board shorts – and there is still room! Check out that space on the end.
Step 5: Getting Serious – things go into the main bag
The Minaal Carry On Bag has two built in sections, that are basically packing cubes. In one, I throw my laptop charger, any other cables and similar things, and the other is where I put all my colourful underwear!
Now, the trick with the Minaal Carry On Bag, is not to load things in on top of this section – pack it into the opposite side – the front of the bag. This may seem counter intuitive, but it makes packing a whole lot easier.
The first things I pack are the softer things – my hoodie and long pants. These will press against the outside of the bag, and as they’re soft, they will easily mould to fit the shape. It will also help to protect other things in the bag.
Then, I chuck the toiletries bag and the packing cubes on top of the hoodie and pants. It looks like there is only 1 small packing cube in this photo… But the other one is empty and hiding under the full one. It will start to fill up throughout the trip, as I put my dirty clothes in it.
Step 6: The Finishing Touches
Ok – the moment of truth… Does it close?
I assure you it does, though it might need a wee bit of convincing. Push it down, and slowly zip around it… And presto! All packed into my little Minaal Carry On Bag!
Well, that’s the majority of the stuff squeezed into my Minaal Carry On Bag – but the most important things are yet to come! How about my laptop and eReader?
There is another section, and it’s perfect for them. A laptop sleeve, and a smaller version for the eReader – they strap in, so they’re not going to come loose, and they don’t go right to the edges – giving extra protection if you’re a bit rough with your bag now and then.
I also tend to chuck my flip flops in here. (Yes, fellow Aussies – I’m a traitor! But if I call them thongs, it means forever explaining I don’t mean underwear!) Make sure they’re clean, or put them in a plastic bag – don’t want dust and dirt getting into laptop keys etc.
And that’s about it…
So there you have it. Everything, quite easily, fits into my Minaal Carry On Bag!!
The only issue? The weight limit for carry on is 7kg, and this weighs nearly 10kg. FFS!
In Europe, I’ve found with most airlines the limit is 10kg, and I’ve heard that in the US there isn’t a weight limit – just the size limit. So, this wouldn’t be an issue travelling within Europe or the US. However, long haul and within Aus / Asia – where I live – it’s 7kg, which kinda sux.
Some airlines are really strict, and if they force you to check the bag at the last minute, the fees can be crazy high. So, for my 3 flights within Thailand, I actually did check it. Though, 2 of them were with Thai Airlines and the checked luggage was included and didn’t cost me any extra. It also had the advantage of allowing me to have liquids of more than the 100mL carry on limit. My bodywash and Listerine went safely in my checked luggage without upsetting security.
My flight from Sydney to Bangkok, I had no issue getting it into the cabin – they didn’t weigh it or anything. Hopefully it will be the same again on my flight back to Sydney, though the checked baggage allowance is included, so it’s not the end of the world.
I guess I still have a bit of work to be totally carry on only!
Do you think you could travel with carry on luggage only? Or do you already? I’d love to hear your thoughts & experiences.
Have any questions about this post, what I take with me, or my Minaal Carry On Bag?
Let me know in the comments, or on social media and I’ll get back to you!