Packing for carry-on only
The joys of carry-on luggage far outweigh any downside. It’s perfect if your trip is a two to four days in each place, then on local transport. It’s:
- satisfying being able to carry what you need in 7Kgs
- liberating, just sling your bag over your shoulder and be on your way
- speedy – you can move faster when necessary
- secure – keep your bag near you (usually) on a crowded bus.
It does mean that you need to wash your clothes as you use them, or when you get the opportunity and that hasn’t been a biggie for me. I am fussy about wearing clean clothes. And do note that humid jungles mean it might take a while to get your clothes dry – whether you wash them yourself or take them to laundry – only solar and wind driers here.
It would work best if you’re:
- only travelling in warmer climates as it’s easier wardrobe-wise. I haven’t done carry-on only when travelling in mixed climes. Though you do need some warmer items for the plane and higher mountain areas.
- going to places where you can buy necessities eg sun block.
The first thing for me was changing my mindset. I used to be a ‘take it in case’ traveller and am now a “can I buy it there if I need it traveller?”. Minimalism rules.
The bags I took to Central America
My trusty Macpac Koru 35 bag contained my worldly possessions. It can be used as a shoulder or cross-body or backpack. I mainly used it cross body. It has various zip pockets to conveniently stash things .
I also took a Pacsafe cross body bag which had all the security features – one less thing for me to worry about being a solo female traveller. I used this as my day pack on jungle hikes etc and it did get a bit uncomfortable with two water bottles etc. Not unmanageably though.
Clothes I took
- pair long Outdoor research trousers – it did get cool in mountain towns and you need longs for horse-riding
- 2 pairs Macpac shorts
- Icebreaker merino hooded cardy/jacket
- 2 singlet tops in quick dry fabric
- 3 loose tops cover shoulders: silk or quick dry
- Outdoor Research long sleeve light top w hood
- belt – I lost weight
- 2 bikinis (top doubles as bra)
- 1 bra
- 5 undies
- lightweight small toilet bag
- Bivouac liquid shampoo/soap laundry wash – soap sometimes supplied at accommodation
- toothbrush and small toothpaste – replaced with a foldable toothbrush in El Salvador
- personal meds and emergency meds doc gave me: antibiotics, anti-shit, etc.
- New Zealand stickers with bright pictures and Maori and English words for the kids. They loved them
- prescription glasses
- Panasonic GF2 camera with zoom and prime lenses
- unruled soft cover student notebook
- pens with gaffer tape wrapped around
- Galaxy tablet – for blogging, reading, internet etc
- waterproof bag for camera and tablet
- silk sleeping bag liner – very pleased I took this, as no under-blankets in most places I stayed
- passport and debit card
- small change purse with two compartments for different currencies
- watch – set at 24 hour so I didn’t get mixed up with time zones and miss early morning buses
- NZ to US adaptor plug – get a double one if you can
- paperback novel which I left/gave away as soon as I finished it.
What I bought when I got there
- sun block and used that as all over moisturiser
- insect repellent
- small torch
- disposable razor
- get maps and hotel toiletries as you go.
When I left
I went through all my luggage and left in the hotel anything I could replace when I got home, except my most useful travel clothes. So most toiletries, jandals, a top, etc.
It worked for me and I’ll do it again on my next trip.